Reigning world sidecar champions Ben and Tom Birchall began the defence of their world title at Le Mans in France on Sunday where they rode to a very close second place behind former champion Pekka Paivarinta and passenger Adolph Hanni who took the win by three hundredths of a second.
Qualifying threw up a few niggling problems which hampered the Mitchells of Mansfield supported brothers but none the less they were able to secure a front row start to the opening race in the current campaign.
As the lights went out to herald the start, Paivarinta was quick to get away and got the hole shot into the first corner. Ben and Tom settled into third place before moving up to second a few seconds later. But just as they began to get on terms with the leaders the race was stopped following an oil spillage.
At the restart the race was reduced to 15 laps and began with Paivarinta shooting away into the lead swiftly followed by the world champions. The pair pulled away from the following outfits and battled it out for the lead. But when they became mixed in with the back markers Paivarinta had the clear passage through while Ben and Tom were held up.
Once they made their way through they resumed their chase to catch the leaders but although they got within touching distance of the flying Finn, Ben unable to get his nose in front and the pair crossed the finish line together with Paivarinta taking the win by the narrowest of margins. In the effort to catch the leaders Ben and Tom put in the fastest lap of the race on lap nine of 15 with a time of 1m 43.058s.
“We are happy with second today,” said Ben. “We didn’t have much luck passing the backmarkers because there were yellow flags out meaning we were not allowed to pass. But once we got through we pushed hard and soon got back on terns with Pekka, but we just ran out of laps and couldn’t get past.
“The FIM have taken over the organisation of the world championship for the remainder of the year which is very promising for the future of the series.”
The Birchall brothers take to the track again over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend at Snetterton when they contest round two of the Eastern Airways Battle of Britain championship where they currently hold third place.