Despite a misfire with the LCR 1000cc Yamaha outfit, Mansfield sidecar racers Ben and Tom Birchall came away from Cadwell Park with 60 championship points under their belts for three solid second places in round five of the Eastern Airways British Sidecar championship at the weekend which put the team up to third place in the overall standings with three rounds remaining.
Qualifying on Saturday was close with the Mitchells of Mansfield supported brothers denied pole position by a tenth of a second. But they began the first race from a front row grid position and shot off to a good start getting the hole shot into turn one ahead of Reeves/Cluze. They maintained the lead throughout the first half of the 10-lap race but were finally overhauled by Reeves/Cluze on lap six. Although Ben and Tom were very close they were unable to get past the championship leaders and had to settle for second place at the flag, just 0.8 of a second adrift.
Sunday saw the outfits line up for race two but a red flag halted proceedings on the first lap. At the restart Ben and Tom were not so quick off the line being third into turn one. But as they headed down Park Straight they moved up into second position to give chase to Reeves/Cluze who had the lead.
With the bike suffering a misfire and down on power, despite their best efforts Ben and Tom were unable to catch Reeves who pulled clear to take the win with Birchalls coming home in second place with a seven second advantage over Lawrie/Neave who finished in third place.
The final race was delayed due to an accident involving a solo rider and consequently due to lack of time the sidecar race had to be reduced to nine laps instead of the original 12.
As they finally got underway it was Ben and Tom who got the hole shot into turn one but they were soon overhauled by Reeves/Cluze who were keen to take their third win of the weekend. The race was a close run affair between the top two outfits with the Birchalls following in Reeves’ tyre tracks. On the approach to the mountain Ben moved alongside Reeves on a couple of occasions but was unable to make the move stick and had to settle for second place once again at the end of an exciting and enjoyable race between the two rivals.
“We were plagued with a misfire for most of the weekend,” said Ben. “But we eventually rectified the fault in time for the last race – and it showed in the lap times. We were very close to Tim (Reeves) throughout the race but yellow flags prevented us from taking the advantage at the end of Park straight. It seemed that every time we approached that section of the course the yellow flag was out and we were unable to make a pass. But it was a cracking race and we were lapping within a 10th of a second of each other throughout the nine laps and really enjoyed ourselves.
“We were pleased to have the support of some of our sponsors for the Cadwell meeting this weekend, Mitchells of Mansfield, NAPIT and John Lawson who all enjoyed their time with us. We were keen to bring them a win but sadly that eluded us this time.”
The team now move on to the next round of the World championship where they hold second place in the rider standings. They are busy preparing the outfit for the journey to Oschersleben in Germany for the penultimate round of the championship which is due to take place over the bank holiday weekend of August 27/28.