Despite the terrible weather and track conditions at Brands Hatch over the Easter weekend Mansfield sidecar racers Ben and Tom Birchall scored two fine second places in the 2012 Easter Airways F1 British Sidecar championship opening round to take the overall win and sit nicely at the top of the leaderboard on 40 points.
The Mitchells of Mansfield supported duo completed their qualifying in second place and began both races from a front row grid position.
Race one took place on Sunday in cold, wet conditions and the race was cut from 18 laps down to 15 because of delays in the earlier solo classes. As the race got underway Ben and Tom remained in second place but soon reeled in Reeves/Hawes who held a small lead and the Mansfield brothers hit the front on lap five to pull out a lead of just over a second.
But as the race wore on the track began to dry and the wet weather tyres showed signs of wear. Lovelock/Lawrence had opted for a tyre more suited to the changeable conditions and reeled the leaders in, taking the lead on lap 12 and going on to take the win from Ben and Tom with Lawrie/Neave finishing in third place.
With Monday came more heavy rain accompanied by a strong wind and conditions were far from ideal for racing. The Second Superbike and the 125 races were both called off and the sidecars put out on track to complete the day’s racing.
It was a close run affair between the Birchall pair and Reeves/Hawes with Reeves taking the chequered flag just two seconds ahead. With two second places under their belts the Birchall brothers were declared the overall winners and also championship leaders on 40 points.
Ben said: “This weekend has been very difficult for everyone. In the second race the conditions were the worse I have ever ridden in. I am not the most comfortable rider in the wet but we gave it our best shot. Our winter testing and development programme enabled us to keep up the pace and push Reeves all the way but towards the end of the race the backmarkers came into play and we were held up slightly at Druids.
“I had to bear in mind the fact that we have the first round of the world championship this coming weekend at Magny Cours in France and I knew I had to keep it safe and not put that in jeopardy. I realised that with two second places here we could take the overall win and the championship lead so didn’t want to push any harder than necessary and perhaps spin off.”
Free practice and qualifying take place over Thursday and Friday at Magny Cours with the 10 lap race on Saturday morning ahead of the 24 hour Bol d’Or race.
Pic credit Dave Yeomans.