Isle of Man TT sidecar stars were in action in Germany at the weekend, with mixed fortunes.
Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall took victory in round four of the FIM World Sidecar championship at Sachsenring in Germany on Sunday to move into 3rd place in the overall rider standings and back into contention for the world title.
Meanwhile three-times World Champion Tim Reeves, partnered by Ashley Hawes, had to settle for 4th as Reeves struggled with the pain of an insect bite.
The Mitchells of Mansfield-supported Birchall brothers topped the leaderboard throughout free practice and qualifying and began their race from pole position.
Prior to Sunday’s race there was a storm with heavy rain and gale force winds and it looked as if the sidecar race would be wet. However, the storm passed and the race was held in dry and sunny conditions.
As the lights went out it was Hock/Becker that got the hole shot into turn one swiftly followed by the Birchalls.
As the race progressed the two leading outfits pulled clear of the pursuing pack and entered into a battle for the lead. Ben bided his time and with two corners left to race he took the advantage and powered the LCR Yamaha past Hock to cross the finish line and take the win with an advantage of 0.411 of a second.
“That was a really good race. We went into the race knowing we had to win if we were to have any chance of staying in contention for the title. We are the current lap record holders and really enjoy racing here so we are really happy with the outcome.”
“The bike was a little down on power, around 10mph down on top speed, the engine felt tired but it held up and we were able to secure the win.”
Meanwhile, Reeves had to battle through the pain barrier to finish 4th and maintain his lead in the 2012 Sidecar World Championship.
The Kent driver suffered a nasty insect bite, which resulted in his right foot swelling considerably overnight. He was only passed fit to drive just before Sunday's race, but he successfully completed the 22-lap race and with Pekka Paivarinta finishing in 6th, his lead increased from 8 points to 11.
Reeves and passenger Hawes qualified 5th, but were confident of improving in the race. The insect bite put paid to those hopes, but, despite spending much of Sunday in the medical centre, Reeves made it to the line and spent most of the race battling with Jorg Steinhausen/Gregory Cluze for 3rd.
There was little to choose between the two outfits, but with Reeves struggling to change down the gearbox due to the extensive swelling in his foot, he ran on twice at the first corner and had to settle for 4th.
“It's been a hectic few days, but things have been going well and although I could have done without the problems with my foot, I've managed to keep my World Championship lead and extending it was superb given the problems I was having.”
“I couldn't walk on Sunday morning and spent most of the day in the medical centre, but I had a couple of injections and was passed fit to race at 3pm. I could change up the gearbox without any problems but changing down was really difficult and although I was right with Jorg, I hit a couple of false neutrals and ran on twice.”
“With Pekka behind me, I settled for 4th and although without the foot issue I might have been able to take 3rd, I don't think I could have finished any higher as Ben and Tom and 2nd-placed Kurt Hock were flying. As I've said before, this year's Championship is really competitive and one race you can be 6th and the next first.”
“There's only 14 points between the top 4 so it's going to go all the way to the last race.”
“I then flew straight back to the UK where I had to go the doctors again on Monday as the swelling had returned so, after another injection, it was then off to the Isle of Man.”
Reeves now leads the championship chase with 95 points to the Finn Paivarinta’s 84. The Birchalls are up to 3rd on 82 points with Steinhausen one point further back in 4th.
After another visit to the doctor upon his return to England on Monday morning, Reeves headed straight to the Isle of Man for the Southern 100, where he is making his debut The Birchall brothers are also having their maiden run at the Billown circuit and will race the Cofain by Klaffi F2 outfit.