After a strong performance in qualifying which saw the Mitchells of Mansfield supported Birchall brothers secure pole position and unofficially smash the existing lap record, a first lap incident put paid to their hopes of a race win and left them with a badly damaged outfit causing them to set off directly to Switzerland for chassis repairs with Louis Christen.
Ben and Tom from Mansfield were to contest the two Eastern Airways British F1 Sidecar championship races at Donington Park at the weekend and posted some fast lap times in qualifying on Saturday morning to set pole. In doing so they annihilated the existing lap record set by themselves in 2011 at 1m 35.229s. The Birchalls shaved a further 0.332 seconds from that time during qualifying, although it will not register as it was not set under race conditions.
As the first race on Saturday got underway Ben and Tom got the hole shot into Redgate and led the pack down to McLeans where they were forced to take avoiding action and ran across the gravel.
Ben explained: “It was an unfortunate and unnecessary incident that caused us to be forced off the track at McLeans. The passenger is very exposed at a right hand bend due to his position on the bike and the fellow competitor was clearly going to make contact so I had to take avoiding action and ran wide across the gravel trap. Unfortunately some debris became lodged in the front brake calliper which was not apparent until we reached the Melbourne Loop at high speed and discovered we had no brakes. We unfortunately came into contact with Chaplow/Briggs resulting in both machines being damaged and riders injured. I can only apologise to Craig Chaplow for the accident which was certainly not intentional and would have been avoided if at all possible.
“There was too much damage caused to our outfit to allow us to continue at Donington and I have to thank our sponsors for their continued support. It is such a shame that we didn’t get the chance to show our full potential at our local circuit. We now have no alternative but to head over to Switzerland so that Louis Christen can make the necessary repairs to the outfit which will enable us to be ready for the final round of the world championship that takes place at Le Mans in France at the end of the month.”
The Birchall brothers are currently running second in the FIM World Sidecar championship and having won the last six races in the series they would like to end the campaign with another win. There is a very slim chance they could take the title but it would take a non finish from current leaders Paivarinta and Hanni for this to be possible.