A brace of third places at Schleiz in Germany at the weekend was sufficient to elevate Ben and Tom Birchall into joint second place in the FIM Sidecar World championship with two rounds (three races) remaining.
Qualifying took place in dry conditions and the Mitchells of Mansfield supported pair secured pole position ahead of current world champions Pekka Paivarinta and Adolf Hanni for the start of the 11-lap Sprint race later in the day.
But qualifying did not go completely smoothly because on the very last lap Ben encountered engine problems with the LCR Yamaha resulting in some hurried activity to switch to the spare engine in time for the race.
“Credit due to the team, we all rolled our sleeves up and got stuck in,” said Ben. “But it has made things slightly more difficult for us as the spare engine is down on power so we will have to pull out all the stops to secure a top result.”
Two hours later the Birchalls took their place at the head of the grid but the weather had taken a change for the worse and they were greeted with a wet track and pouring rain. But, undeterred, Ben and Tom were mixing it with the front runners throughout the race to secure a strong third place at the chequered flag to collect 20 championship points.
On Sunday the rain clouds had gone and sun was shining as the riders took their places on the starting gird for the 22-lap Gold race. Ben and Tom managed to avoid the accident involving two outfits at the first corner and set off in hot pursuit of the race leaders Paivarinta and Hanni. During the latter stages the Birchall brothers were caught and passed by Markus Schlosser and Thomas Hofer but held station to once again take the chequered flag in third place and pick up another 20 championship points taking their total haul for the weekend to 40 and the overall total to 114.
“Considering we were using the spare engine I am happy with two third places this weekend,” said Ben. “I have to thank our crew who have worked so hard to keep us on track plus all our sponsors for their continued support.”
This set of results see the Birchall brothers move to joint second in the championship alongside Jorge Steinhausen and Greg Cluze, both teams having scored 114 points and just six points away from the championship leaders.
Oschersleben in Germany plays host to the penultimate round of the series on August 12 and once again there are two races to contest. With 50 points available at this round there is plenty to race for and Birchall Racing will be intent on snatching as many points as possible in order to move into contention for the championship lead.
Pic credit Wally Walters