World Championship race-winning sidecar crew Ben and Tom Birchall will make their Isle of Man TT debut in 2009.
They are the latest newcomers confirmed for this year’s event, adding to the impressive list of riders due to make their debut in the solo classes.
The Sidecar races at the Isle of Man TT have already attracted triple World Champion Tim Reeves, and now the Birchall brothers will pit their talents against the challenging Mountain Course.
The Mansfield-based crew have purchased a 600cc LCR Honda outfit and will tackle the first three rounds of the British F2 Championship in order to help them adjust to the smaller outfit prior to the TT. They will also, once again, be competing in the F1 World Sidecar Championship
Ben, 32, spent four years as a passenger before taking over the controls of his own outfit in 2003, when he was joined by younger brother Tom, 22. They have rapidly moved through the ranks ever since, finishing second in the 2005 British F1 Sidecar Championship before moving in to the World Championship in 2006. They have made significant progress, finishing 13th, fifth and third in the three years of World Championship competition.
In 2008 they took four podium finishes and a victory in Croatia.
As well as going into 2009 as major World Championship contenders, Ben and Tom are keen to make an impression at the TT, an event they have always been keen to try. They began talking to the Isle of Man race organisers in August last year and they readily entered this year’s event, where they will contest both three-lap Sure Sidecar Races.
Backed by Mitchell’s of Mansfield, the brothers have spent the winter preparing both outfits for the coming season and have spent considerable time in the Island, studying the 37¾-mile course in great depth to ensure that they are fully prepared for their eagerly awaited debut.
‘We’ve done our homework on the Isle of Man, but realise that we still have a lot to learn and that there is no substitute for track time.’
‘There is a really talented, experienced field lining up in the two races, but Tim Reeves’ success last year in achieving a podium in his first year has given us inspiration and we’ll be looking to emulate his achievements.’
With two of the top three finishers in last year’s World Championship on the entry list for the 2009 TT, as well as the established leading runners including Nick Crowe, Dave Molyneux, John Holden and Klaus Klaffenböck, the F2 Sidecar races at the Isle of Man continue to be the most prestigious sidecar races in the world.
Isle of Man Tourism and Leisure Minister Martyn Quayle said:
‘We are delighted to attract racers of the calibre of the Ben and Tom Birchall for the Sure Sidecar Races.’
‘I’m sure that they’ll attract many new fans with their exciting racing style and they are a welcome addition to an already strong field.’