A sidecar team which overcame a high speed practice crash to score two podium finishes at the 2012 Isle of Man TT have had their efforts recognised.
Ben and Tom Birchall have been award the 2012 PokerStars Spirit of the TT Award, which is given to the person or team who best represent the ethos and values of the TT. Previous winners include Paul Owen in 2010 and Conor Cummins in 2011.
TT rider liaison officers Richard Quayle and John Barton and representatives from the Isle of Man Government’s Motorsport team judged the award.
The World Champion Birchall brothers were involved in a high-speed incident on May 28 at Brandywell and were taken to Noble’s Hospital with severe bruising. The pair spent the night in hospital.
Their Cofain Racing outfit was damaged, requiring new bodywork and needing repairs to a bent chassis.
However, they recovered and the machine was repaired in time for the Thursday practice session. They went on to claim podiums in both races, second in the opening Sure Sidecar TT on June 2 and third in the second Sure Sidecar race on June 6.
Team boss Klaus Klaffenbock, a 3-time TT winner and former World Sidecar Champion, said:
“The team has done better than anyone could have possibly expected even before the challenges that they faced.”
2I certainly wasn’t expecting even a single podium so to achieve two is a remarkable achievement.”
“When I saw the bike I thought they would have no chance of competing, but one of Ben’s first questions was to ask what state the bike was in. Everyone in the team then got stuck in including World Sidecar Champion Adolf Hanni who had just arrived and got straight into his overalls and started work on the bike.”
The Mansfield-based brothers first competed at the TT in 2009, where they performed creditably with a fastest lap of 110.659, the second fastest newcomers ever after Tim Reeves in 2008, although they didn’t finish the only race held that year.
They were forced to miss the 2010 meeting, but came back last year to finish their first race on the Mountain course, recording 7th in the first race before topping it with 5th in the second.
This year, as well as two podiums, they also improved their fastest lap time to 112.979mph, which they achieved on lap 3 of the Sure Sidecar Race 1.
Becs Cubbon, who is responsible for PokerStars’ on-Island sponsorship, said:
“I am delighted for the Birchall brothers who have truly displayed the spirit required to be TT racers. As a local company we understand how important the event is to the Isle of Man and we are delighted to be involved with it.”