Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall took a win and a second place plus set a new lap record on their very first visit to Silverstone in the penultimate round of the Eastern Airways British F1 Sidecar championship at the weekend to claim 45 points and move into 11th place in the rider standings after contesting just two rounds of the series.
Free practice was spent learning their way around the 3.6-mile circuit and the Mitchells of Mansfield supported brothers then went on to secure a front row start to the first race in second position.
As the race got underway The Reeves brothers got a better start and sped off with Ben and Tom in pursuit. As the race unfolded Ben was gradually edging closer and closer to the leaders and in an effort to get on terms broke the existing lap record with a 2m 12.634s lap – 99.54mph. Despite their best efforts they were not able to pass the Reeves brothers and crossed the finish line for second place just half a second adrift.
Because of delays in the solo classes the second sidecar race was reduced to eight laps instead of the scheduled nine. Once again Ben and Tom set off from a front row grid position but this time they got the hole shot into turn one although they were unable to hold station as Reeves went past before the end of the lap. There followed a monumental battle between the two riders -both former world champions – and on lap six Ben got to the front and made the move stick. Although Reeves tried his best to get back ahead he was unable to beat the flying Birchall brothers who crossed the finish line for the win with half a second to spare.
“That was one of the best races we have ever been in,” said Ben. “We both rode hard but fair and won one apiece. We congratulate Tim and Tristan Reeves for winning the championship again this year. The Crescent Suzuki engine is a rocket ship and has been perfect all weekend. We have to thank all our sponsors for their continued support and hope they enjoyed watching these two races as much as we enjoyed riding in them.”
Now Ben is happy with the reliability and performance he will be working closely with John Baker to further develop the engines in preparation for an assault on both the World and British F1 championships in 2014. The calendars are currently being finalised and will be issued in due course.
The F1 programme is now concluded for 2013 and it is nice that the team has gone out on a high note with a win and a new lap record from their final meeting.
Ben and Tom have one more meeting to attend and that is the Stars at Darley meeting next weekend – October 13 where they will be riding their TT winning F2 outfit.