Birchall brothers in world title frame

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A brace of third places in Germany elevated Ben and Tom Birchall into joint second in the World Championship with two rounds remaining.

Qualifying took place in dry conditions in Schleiz and the Mitchells of Mansfield-supported pair secured pole position ahead of current world champions Pekka Paivarinta and Adolf Hanni for the start of the 11-lap Sprint race later in the day.

But qualifying did not go completely smoothly because on the very last lap Ben encountered engine problems with the LCR Yamaha, resulting in some hurried activity to switch to the spare engine in time for the race.

Two hours later the Birchalls took their place at the head of the grid only to find the weather had taken a change for the worse and they were greeted with a wet track and pouring rain.

But, undeterred, Ben and Tom were mixing it with the front runners throughout the race to secure a strong third place at the chequered flag to collect 20 championship points.

On Sunday the rain clouds had gone and the sun was shining as the riders took their places on the starting gird for the 22-lap Gold race.

Ben and Tom managed to avoid the accident involving two outfits at the first corner and set off in hot pursuit of race leaders Paivarinta and Hanni.

During the latter stages the Birchall brothers were caught and passed by Markus Schlosser and Thomas Hofer.

But they held station to once again take the chequered flag in third place and pick up another 20 championship points, taking their total haul for the weekend to 40 and the overall total to 114.

“Considering we were using the spare engine I am happy with two third places this weekend,” said Ben.

“I have to thank our crew who have worked so hard to keep us on track plus all our sponsors for their continued support.

“Credit is due to the team in qualifying, we all rolled our sleeves up and got stuck in,” said Ben.

“But it made things slightly more difficult for us as the spare engine was down on power so we had to pull out all the stops to secure a good result.”

This set of results see the Birchall brothers move to joint second in the championship alongside Jorge Steinhausen and Greg Cluze, both teams having scored 114 points and just six points away from the championship leaders.

Oschersleben in Germany plays host to the penultimate round of the series on 12th August and once again there are two races to contest, making it three in total with only one in the final meeting.

With 50 points available at this round there is plenty to race for and Birchall Racing will be intent on snatching as many points as possible in order to move into contention for the championship lead.