Ben and Tom Birchall completed the final race in the FIM World Sidecar championship in third place at Magny Cours in France and at the end of the incident packed 2010 campaign to find themselves in an overall position of third in the championship.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Mitchells of Mansfield supported brothers as they had not ridden the Magny Cours circuit before and they spent free practice learning their way around the course while at the same time running in a new engine.
“We were on the back foot,” said Ben. “The weather was against us in free practice as it was damp so we couldn’t really learn anything except which way the track went.”
First qualifying threw up a number of technical problems which further limited their track time but these were rectified for the final session and the brothers recorded a series of fast laps to start their final race from third place on the grid.”
“We were the quickest team through the first and second sectors but not quite so quick towards the end of the lap. But our final lap proved to be our fastest so we were able to secure third place on the grid.”
The race itself was held prior to the Bol d’Or, the French round of the World Endurance championship and when the Sidecar event got underway the Birchall brothers moved straight up into second place behind Swiss pairing Markus Schlosser and Thomas Hofer. But their progress was halted by the red flag after just two laps.
At the restart the positions remained the same but once again the red flag came out for another incident. With all the delays track time was running short and officials had no alternative but to just permit a five lap dash to the flag so they could prepare the circuit for the main event, the 24 hour World Endurance event, which was scheduled to run shortly after the sidecar race.
The riders began their dash from the same grid positions as before but although Ben and Tom began to reel in the two leading outfits they simply ran out of time and crossed the finish line in third place.
“If we could have found a good set up straight away and the race had run over the full distance then I was confident we could have secured a top result,” said Ben. “But it wasn’t to be and considering all the problems we have encountered this year with the crash in Croatia and the extent of our injuries we are happy enough to finish third in the world championship this time.
“Everyone at Birchall Racing would like to congratulate Pekka Paivarinta on securing his second world title and it goes without saying that a special congratulation must go to his passenger Adolph Hanni who has put so much time and effort into his sport over the past 21 years. We are delighted he has finally achieved his dream of being world sidecar champion, the title couldn’t have gone to a more deserving home.
“We would like to thank everyone involved in our team plus family, friends and sponsors for the considerable amount of effort they have put in this year. It has been the hardest world championship campaign we have had to contest to date but the experience has made us even more determined to come out fighting and regain our world crown next year.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Birchall Brothers as they travel to Anglesey in Wales for round six of the Battle of Britain sidecar championship which takes place over the weekend (September 18/19).
Ben and Tom are currently running in third place on 202 points behind Alan Schofield (222) and Tim Reeves (268) and with 25 points up for grabs in each of the three races they will be determined to claim as many as possible to edge nearer to their rivals.