Mansfield's sidecar legends the Birchalls win TT title but deaths mar race

Mansfield's legendary Birchall brothers Ben and Tom again won the Isle of Man TT Sidecar Championship at the weekend with a maximum 50 points from two wins out of two.

Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 4:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 5:00 pm

But their second win on Friday was also tinged with tragedy as the race was shortened due to a crash in which two competitors lost their lives.

Driver Ben, 45, and passenger Tom, 35, put in a dominant display, finishing almost 14 seconds clear of the field in their first race in another one shortened due to a crash,

Then on Friday they sealed the title with a 12th TT triumph, which was a ninth win in a row there since the second sidecar race of the 2016 TT.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Birchalls celebrate another TT win.

But father-and-son crew Roger and Bradley Stockton died following a crash at Ago’s Leap when the majority of competitors were on their second lap on Friday, taking the total fatalities in 2022 to five

The result was declared at the end of lap one with the Haith Honda duo 2.3 seconds ahead of Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley (FHO Racing).

Manx pairing Ryan and Callum Crowe (Haven Homes) finished third, a further 2.6 seconds behind after a thrilling opening lap between the leading three crews.

As the outfits rounded the left-hand sweep of Glen Helen on the opening lap, it was the Birchalls, as expected, who led but the gap to second was only 0.7 seconds over Founds/Walmsley.

The Crowes were only a further second back and it already looked like the same three crews as the opening race on Monday would dispute the podium positions.

Dave Molyneux/Daryl Gibson (DMR) were up to fourth, 8.5 seconds behind.

Over Ballaugh Bridge the Birchalls had stretched their lead to two seconds over Founds/Walmsley with the Crowes a further 1.3s in arrears.

The trio were pulling rapidly away from the rest of the field though as, although Molyneux/Gibson were still fourth, they were now more 16 seconds off the final podium position.

As the lap progressed, the Birchalls were slowly but surely increasing their lead and at Ramsey Hairpin, the gap to Founds/Walmsley in second place had moved out to 3.5 seconds.

The battle for second was hotting up with the Crowes only 0.8 seconds behind as the crews headed towards St Ninian’s crossroads and Bray Hill for the second and final time, but a red flag came out shortly afterwards following the crash at the Ago’s Leap section just one mile into the course, where driver Cesar Chanal lost his life in an incident the previous Saturday in the first Sidecar race.

TT organisers later confirmed that Roger, 56, and Bradley Stockton, 21, from Crewe were killed in the crash.

Roger Stockton was making his 20th TT start, while his son was a newcomer at the event, scoring eighth on his debut in Monday’s rescheduled first Sidecar race.

A statement read: “With a deep sense of sorrow, the Isle of Man TT Races can confirm that Roger Stockton, 56, and Bradley Stockton, 21, from Crewe, Cheshire were both killed in an incident on the second and final lap of the second Sidecar Race of the 2022 Isle of Man TT Races.

“The incident occurred at Ago’s Leap, just under one mile into the lap.

“Roger and Bradley were father and son, and driver and passenger respectively.

“Roger was an experienced TT competitor, with today’s race marking his 20th TT race start.

“He competed at the TT regularly from 2000 to 2008, before then returning in 2010, 2017 and at this year’s event. In his career, he claimed a total of twelve top-20 finishes and four top-10 finishes, as well as 10 Bronze Replicas.

“Bradley was a newcomer to the TT and finished his first TT race on Monday, securing an impressive 8th-place finish alongside his father.

“2022 was their fifth season racing together, and Roger and Bradley were regular podium finishers and frontrunners in the British F2 Sidecar Cup Championship, finishing second in the championship in 2021.

“The Isle of Man TT Races pass on their deepest sympathy to Roger and Bradley’s families, loved ones, and friends.”

It is the first time since 1989 that five competitors have died at the event.

The declared result saw the Birchalls again win the championship with a maximum 50 points, 14 clear of Founds/Walmsley and the Crowes who tied for second place on 36 points.

Payne’s fifth place meant he won the Peter Chapman Trophy, awarded to the best newcomer driver, with Tom Christie picking up the Dave Wells Trophy for the best newcomer passenger.