Sidecar start numbers released - five former winners in top ten
Five former race winners are in the line up for this year’s two Sure Sidecar TT Races, at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, with no less than 25 victories between them.
Almost fifty entries have been accepted for the two three lap races with the first on the opening day – Saturday 3rd June and the second forming part of the ‘Championship Day’ on the final day of the meeting – Friday 9th June.
The competitive field includes thirteen crews have already lapped the Mountain Course at more than 110mph and the strength in depth extends through the field. Only ten drivers are seeded but the top thirty have all lapped at more than 106mph
Like the solo seeds, there’s change in the sidecar ranks as Ben and Tom Birchall take the number one plate for the first time. With four wins in total, and three in the last two years, as well as being the current outright lap record holders, the Nottinghamshire brothers are the crew to beat and will be confident that they can add to their tally of wins.
Setting off ten seconds behind them are the most successful driver and passenger in TT history – Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle. With seventeen and eight wins respectively, the Manx duo have an unbelievable record but the last few years have been marked by a dip in their fortunes and they will be hoping a switch to Yamaha will elevate them back to the top step of the podium.
John Holden, last year’s winner, is at number three. The Silicone Engineering-backed driver took his second individual win in the opening race of 2016. With 15 podiums to his name, the Blackburn driver has made a change to his wing man with local passenger Lee Cain joining him in a formidable looking combination.
Conrad Harrison, another race winner, is at number four. The Bradford driver took victory in the opening race of 2014 but has had a year to forget in 2016 and failed to start a race for the first time in his TT career. Having recruited Holden’s former race winning passenger Andy Winkle, he is likely to be challenging for honours again.
The same applies to five times World Champion Tim Reeves who takes the number five plate this time around on the Klaffi Racing Honda. His sole victory came in 2013 and although he has a rookie passenger, to the TT at least, in Mark Wilkes, he’ll be looking to build up his challenge during race week and in contention come race day.
Last year’s sensation, Cheshire’s Peter Founds, who took second place in the opening racein just his second year of competing as a driver at the TT, starts ten seconds behind them. Passenger Jevan Walmsley had a dream debut and having already lapped at close to 113mph, the duo will be hoping to make even greater strides in 2017.
Peter’s brother Alan was also on the podium last year, finishing third in the same race and he takes the number seven plate. He also has a new passenger in the shape of Jake Lowther who last competed at the TT with his brother John in 2015, the duo lapping at close to 109mph.
Next up at number eight is another local driver, Karl Bennett. He had his best ever TT result 12 months ago when he took fourth in the second race and also broke the 112mph barrier for the first time. He too has a new passenger on board and, having partnered with Cain since 2010, he’s now recruited Frenchman Maxime Vasseur.
The father and son pairing of Steve and Matty Ramsden are at number nine and deservedly become a seeded pairing after two great drives in 2016 saw them claim fourth and sixth place finishes while at number 10 Gary Knight is the last of the seeds. The former European Champion lines up with Daniel Evanson again after they finished eighth and twelfth in 2016.
The rest of the field will confirm their starting positions during qualifying week including Tony Baker/Fiona Baker-Milligan, Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers, Michael Grabmuller/Manfred Wechselberger, Mike Roscher/Ben Hughes and the returning Rob Handcock/Ken Edwards and Allan Schofield/Steve Thomas who will all be looking to secure low start numbers for the two Sure Sidecar TT Races.