Double Isle of Man TT podium finishers Ben and Tom Birchall have paid tribute to the organisers of the 2012 International Southern 100 Road Races after being crowned Sidecar Champions.
The pair made their debut on the 4.25-mile Billown circuit during last week’s four-day meeting, and came away as champions on the Cofain by Klaffi LCR 600cc Honda outfit that they twice took to the podium at the 2012 TT.
Despite being new to the course in the south of the Island, the Birchalls were quickly on the pace, with a good showing in the first sidecar outing and victory in the big race of the week.
Fresh from victory in the World Championship race at Sachsenring in Germany the Mansfield brothers flew directly to the Isle of Man to commence their practice laps.
The first race, over six laps, was held last Tuesday evening and proved to be a close and exciting encounter with the Birchalls mixing it with Ian and Carl Bell, Conrad Harrison/Dipash Chauhun, Greg Lambert/Dicky Gale and Wayne Lockey/Kenny Cole.
The five outfits were all fighting for 2nd place, behind the victorious Tim Reeves and passenger Dan Sayle, and on the last lap the Birchalls managed to hold on to a fine 3rd place.
“That was an amazing race.”
“At the TT we never really mixed it with other competitors because it’s a long way round the course and you set off at 10 second intervals, but this is something else; its like short circuit racing on public roads, we all set off together and it was amazing to be riding flat out and heading three abreast into a right hander.”
“We really enjoyed the close racing with the lads who were all brilliant.”
The Championship Race, over 8 laps, was held on Thursday afternoon.
The Birchalls set off in 2nd to chase after Reeves/Sayle, who had established the lead, and were closing at the end of lap one, with the Bells just a fraction behind.
Reeves was forced out on lap two, leaving the way clear for the Birchalls to take the lead and pull away to establish a comfortable lead and cross the finish line to take victory.
“By lap three of the race we had settled into our stride and were all ready for a battle with the leaders, we were making inroads towards them, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as Tim (Reeves) went out with a mechanical problem.”
“It’s a pity as it was shaping up to be a close and exciting battle.”
“What a team we have got behind us, I have to give a big thank you to everyone that’s involved with the team this year, Klaffi, Cofain, Manx Gas Andy Mitchell and Andy Faragher.”
“We will continue next year and hopefully the year after. The preparation by our team is unbelievable. We had a new engine for this race and it’s an absolute missile.”
“Thanks also go to the organisers for inviting us over for the Southern 100. The welcome we received has been perfect and we have really enjoyed ourselves. Apparently we are the first newcomers to actually win the championship race so we received the championship trophy, the fastest lap trophy and also the best newcomer award.”
The Birchalls are back in action in Germany this weekend for the 5th round of the World Sidecar Championship at Schleiz. The team will have two races this time and another couple of top results could move them up the rider standings, where they currently hold 3rd.