Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall rode to a fine second place in round one of the 2012 FIM World Sidecar championship at Magny Cours in France on Saturday.
The Mitchells of Mansfield supported team headed off to France directly from Brands Hatch where they scored a brace of second places to take the overall win in the opening rounds of the Eastern Airways British F1 Sidecar championship.
In the opening round of the world championship Ben and Tom held second place throughout the two qualifying sessions behind current world champions Pekka Paivarinta and Adolf Hanni and began their race from a front row grid position.
But the Mansfield pair did not get the best of starts and found themselves in sixth place at turn one. They soon recovered and set about catching the riders ahead and at the end of the first lap they were up to fourth and right on the tail of Jorg Steinhausen and Greg Cluze.
They passed Steinhausen on lap three and Tim Reeves/Ashley Hawes one lap later to take up second place to give chase to the leaders, Paivarinta/Hanni who by this time had established a five second advantage over the rest of the field.
By lap eight of 10 realising that he had insufficient time left to catch the flying Finn, Ben eased off and concentrated on protecting his second place. The red flag then brought the race to an early end and a result declared at eight laps giving Ben and Tom a creditable second place.
“That was a good solid result for us,” said Ben. “I am pleased to get some safe points in the bag. After a bad start I realised I had a lot of work to do and did well to get through so quickly from sixth to second which proves what a strong package we have this year. Had I got away a bit quicker things could have been different but I left myself a bit too much to do in such a short race. The usual race distance is 22 laps but we only had 10 this time and that was just not enough to reel in the leaders.”
The Birchall brothers now turn their full attention to the Isle of Man TT races and make the final preparations for the two races there. Practice week takes place from Saturday, May 26 through to Friday, June 1st. The first three-lap race is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 and Race two is set for Wednesday, June 6.
The next round at the Hungaroring in Hungary is not until June 10 just after the Isle of Man TT races when Ben and Tom will be seeking a top result to stay in touch with Paivarinta/Hanni who lead the championship by five points.
Podium shot shows left to right Tom and Ben Birchall. Adolf Hanni and Pekka Paivarinta, Tim Reeves and Ashley Hawes.
Credit for all pics to Wally Walters.