Holden & Winkle take dramatic win in Sure Sidecar Race 1
John Holden and Andy Winkle claimed their second win at the Isle of Man TT, fuelled by Monster Energy, five years after their first win, when they benefited from the final lap retirement of Ben and Birchall. The Lancastrian pair took a dramatic victory by almost a minute from Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley with brother Alan Founds, partnered by Aki Aalto, in third.
The Birchalls had a 34s lead when they stopped at Sulby Crossroads on their final lap although they did have the consolation of a new outright lap record of 116.798mph.
With 17-time Sidecar TT winner Dave Molyneux and passenger Dan Sayle non-starters after a problematical qualifying week, the Birchalls were first to leave the line shortly after 4pm, after the race was originally red flagged following an incident at Rhencullen, and they led at Glen Helen first time around, 1.3s clear of Holden/Winkle. Reeves/Farrance were only a tenth further back in third with Ian and Carl Bell in fourth from Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley and Karl Bennett/Lee Cain.
By Ramsey, the Birchalls had added a further second to their lead but Reeves/Farrance had dropped seven seconds to Holden/Winkle and seemed to be without the pace to challenge the front two. Indeed, they slipped back to fourth behind the Bells at the Bungalow. Another team in trouble were Bennett/Cain who retired at Sulby Crossroads.
An opening lap of 115.543mph gave the Birchalls a significant advantage of 8.1s over Holden/Winkle and Reeves/Farrance who had reclaimed third from the Bells although it was tight with just half a second separating them. Founds/Walmsley were still in fifth with brother Alan moving up to sixth.
The first seven crews were all over 110mph but at the front of the field the Birchalls were pressing home their advantage and by Glen Helen on lap two, their lead had increased slightly to 9.2s. The Bells were now back into third and, although they were 17s behind Holden, the Bedlington based pair had edged away from Reeves/Farrance, with the difference now 4.3s.
A second lap of 116.798mph – a new lap record – saw the gap between the Birchalls and Holden/Winkle grow to 24s but the Bells were out of luck having stopped at Barregarrow Crossroads to make adjustments. That promoted Reeves/Farrance back up to third as Founds/Walmsley closed to within 0.7s, Founds/Aalto and Matt Dix/Shaun Parker now occupying the remaining top six places.With first and second places now seemingly secure, all eyes turned to the battle for third and, sure enough, Founds/Walmsley had moved into the final podium spot at Glen Helen albeit by just half a second from Matt Dix/Shaun Parker.
However, there was drama on the final lap and after passing through Ballaugh with a 34s lead, the Birchalls retired soon after at Sulby Crossroads promoting Holden/Winkle back into the lead. Soon after, Reeves/Farrance were also out having stopped at Glen Duff.
It all meant Holden/Winkle came home for their second TT win – their first since 2011 – with the Founds brothers, Peter and Alan, claiming their maiden podiums with Jevan Walmsley and Aki Aalto in their respective chairs.
In a race of high attrition, Steve and Matty Ramsden secured their best ever position in fourth as Dix/Parker and Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers completed the top six, all three crews setting their best ever laps. For the Ramsdens, a final lap of 111.387mph was their first above 110mph.
There were also impressive perfromances from newcomers Mick Alton/Chrissy Clancy and Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney, the duo finishing in 13th and 14th place. Alton set the best lap by a newcomer driver with a speed of 108.008mph.