Isle of Man TT sidecar regulars Ben and Tom Birchall have described their World Championship campaign as ‘fantastic’, despite the disappointment of being unable to challenge for title due to a final round crash.
The Mansfield brothers headed into the final round at Le Mans with a real chance of taking the World Championship – the top four teams were split by just four points, making the last race a ‘winner takes all’ finale.
However, a crash ended their charge and they had to settle for third in the final standings.
Despite that frustration, the brothers are upbeat.
“What a year this has been for us, who would have thought that despite all odds with an underpowered engine we could have won a succession of pole positions and completed a highly competitive season in third place.”
“It has been a fantastic championship this year and couldn’t have been any closer with the four of us covered by just four points going into the last race. But this has left us hungry for more next year and preparations are already ongoing to improve the performance of the outfit for the 2013 world championship.”
The final race looked promising for the Birchalls as they completed free practice and qualifying in a comfortable first place and began the final outing from pole position.
At the start they were second in turn one, close on the heels of eventual World champions Tim Reeves and Ashley Hawes, with the 2011 champions Pekka Paivarinta and Adolf Hanni third.
However, it all went wrong for the Nottinghamshire duo when Paivarinta came alongside at turn four and both outfits went for the same piece of tarmac. This resulted in a collision with the Birchalls coming off worse as Paivarinta clipped the front of their outfit spinning them round a full 180 degrees and flipping it over.
The outfit suffered serious damage, ending Ben and Tom’s championship hopes. Paivarinta was able to carry on, but passenger Adolf Hanni fell from the machine a few seconds later and they too were out of the race.
“Obviously we are both disappointed that we were not in a position to challenge for the world title. But for that crash I am sure we would have been right in the thick of the action and in with a good chance of winning the race and the title.”
“Our main sponsor Andy Mitchell pulled out all the stops to help us get the outfit prepared for this race and nothing was left to chance. But there is nothing certain in racing and it was a twist of fate that took two of the top teams out and left a third slowing with gear box problems which paved the way for Reeves to take the honours.”
The pair cannot race in the British Championship round at Assen this weekend due to the extent of damage to their outfit, but Ben said they hope to make the final rounds at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.