The 2012 Isle of Man TT races kicked off on Saturday evening in glorious sunshine with Ben and Tom Birchall completing their first timed practice laps in a fine third place.
The Mansfield brothers are this year riding for the Cofain Racing by Klaffi team and were immediately on the pace posting a lap time of 106.653mph on their first circulation of the 37.73-mile mountain course.
The went through to take in a second lap and this time completed the course in a time of 20m 54.91s, posting an even faster time of 108.237mph to establish third place on the night. Its early days yet but things are looking good for the brothers who are aiming their sights at a podium finish this year.
Ben commented: “We are in it to win it this year if everything goes right on the day. Last year the engines we ran compared to this year are just like night and day Three times TT winner Klaus Klaffenbock has told me he will show me how to unlock this place and to have him on board is certainly flattering and is going to make a massive difference.
“Just talking to him about how he would approach different areas of the course is going to be a huge help. It gives you a two-year head start I think and we can’t wait to get out there now and get started.
“It’s really flattering to have Klaffi want to work for us and hopefully we can have a good couple of races. He is teaching me things that I would probably have found out in the next couple of years but now I know that already. Klaffi is going to be with me 24 hours a day all week, which is a great help.”
But while Ben is adamant the Klaffi factor will be immense, the Mansfield rider insists he hasn’t relinquished all responsibilities entirely. The brothers have a best finish of fifth to their name from the second of the two sidecar races in 2011 and Ben added: “It’s taken so much pressure off me having Klaffi there. But obviously we have had a big input into it. It is not just an “arrive and drive” situation, we have been working hard. We have been on lap record pace everywhere we have been in preparation so we are really looking forward to it.”
The 2012 Isle of Man TT races, fuelled by Monster Energy will be shown every evening around 9pm on ITV4 from May 28 – June 11. For more information on the event and for live Radio TT commentary and live timings as well as the full ITV4 schedule go to www.iomtt.com
Ben and Tom will take part in practice sessions each evening from Monday-Friday prior to the first of the two three-lap races on Saturday June 2, starting at 2pm. The second race is on Wednesday, June 6 at 3.15pm.