25.10.11 A win and a second place at Bishopscourt in Northern Ireland was enough to secure the overall win in the F1 Sidecar class for the fourth consecutive year for Ben and Tom Birchall who also set a new track record of 1m 28.081s – 87.3mph in race one.
The Mitchells of Mansfield duo were competing at the annual Sunflower Trophy meeting and were riding on the new Bishopscourt 2.136-mile International circuit where a new lap record was to be set by the fastest rider in each class.
Qualifying took place in the dry and the Birchall brothers dominated proceedings, setting the fastest lap of 130.123s – 86.323mph on their way to claiming pole position with a 1.682s advantage over nearest rivals Tim Reeves/Ashley Hawes.
As the first race got underway Ben and Tom didn’t get the best of starts and were third into turn one. But they soon recovered and made their way to the head of the field of lap two of nine. Once they had the lead they never looked back and at one stage extended their lead to over nine seconds. But as they negotiated the back markers they slowed and eventually crossed the finish line with a 6.9 second advantage over John Clarke/Stuart Graham with Reeves/Hawes a further two seconds back in third place.
Heavy rain greeted the riders as they formed the grid for the second race and the Birchall Brothers were not taking any risks, settling for a safe second place in the dire conditions some 8.5s behind Reeves/Hawes. Clarke/Graham were a distant third over 13s behind Reeves.
“We had a steady race in the rain,” said Ben. We couldn’t match the pace of Tim Reeves and so drove according to the conditions and brought her home safely in second place. Although Tim won the Marty Murphy Trophy second place gave us the overall win over the two races for the fourth year in a row.
“We would like to extend our grateful thanks for the continued support of Montgomery Transport and a special thank you for their input into the two race meetings here inIreland– the Mondello round of the British Sidecar championship and also the Sunflower meeting this weekend at Bishopscourt.”
Having completed the final race of the season all at Birchall Racing would like to thank their sponsors and supporters for their continued assistance throughout the year and look forward to next season when, subject to securing the budget, they will once again be contesting the World championship and the British F1 Sidecar championship on the F1 machine plus they will contest the Isle of Man TT races on the smaller F2 outfit.
Although the race calendar has yet to be announced it is hoped that there will be no date clashes and the team will be able to ride at every round in each class.
Photos by Wally Walters