Ben and Tom Birchall took their sixth Isle of Man TT Sidecar race in a win, and ninth in total, when they swept to victory in Monday afternoon’s three-lap race.
The Nottinghamshire brothers were never headed and aided by a second lap of 119.129mph – just a second outside their year old lap record – they came home in a race record time, over 48s clear of John Holden/Lee Cain who had topped the truncated practice leaderboard.
“It’s been a fraught practice week for everyone and we’ve had engines out, gearboxes out, all sorts but to win again is mega,” driver Ben said afterwards. “It’s a team effort to get here but it all fell right today and I knew John had been on it all week so that first sector was really important.”
I got my head down on the first lap and the second lap felt even better but I had John McGuinness in my ear once the lead was above 30s and it was about winning the race rather than the lap record. I’m not saying we would have done 120mph but I’m not saying we wouldn’t.”
He equalled the nine wins taken previously by Siggi Schauzu, Mick Boddice and Dave Saville but Tom became the most successful sidecar passenger in TT history as he bettered the record of eight wins he’d previously held with Dan Sayle and Rick Long.
“It’s been a tricky week in practice and we didn’t have a full handle of what we needed so the team were up until 4am to get the bike ready. We’ve got the right people behind us and that drives us forward.”
It was the Birchalls who set the pace through Glen Helen on the opening lap with their advantage over Holden/Cain some 4.1s as Pete Founds/Jevan Walmlsey slotted into third a further 5.8s in arrears. However, the race saw two big name retirements early on as Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes only got as far as the Bottom of Bray Hill with Dave Molyneux/Harry Payne not faring much better as they retired at Braddan Bridge.
By Ramsey, the Birchalls had increased their lead and an opening lap of 117.709mph saw their advantage grow to 14.904s with Holden now more than 15 seconds clear of the battle for third that continued to rage. It was Alan Founds/Jake Lowther who were now in third as he took over the position from brother Pete.
The big news came in fifth place though as Ryan and Callum Crowe lapped at 112.56mph to become the fastest sidecar newcomers ever, although they bettered that second time around with a speed of 113.53mph.
The Birchalls were pressing on at the head of the field and at one stage it looked like a 120mph lap was on the cards and although they eased their pace over the Mountain, their second lap of 119.129mph was just a second outside their outright lap record.
On the third and final lap, the Nottinghamshire brothers continued to extend their lead through the timing points and they duly crossed the line at 118.12mph to win from Holden/Cain by 48.116s.
Founds/Lowther took their second TT podium, and first since 2016, as they edged out Founds/Walmsley by just 5.5s, the duo both lapping quicker than the previous lap at 116.37mph and 116.44mph respectively.
The Crowes took a brilliant fifth place ahead of Blackstock/Rosney as Bryan/Hyde, Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle, Allan Schofield/Steve Thomas and the father and son pairing of Gary and Daryl Gibson completed the top ten.