Mansfield’s magnificent Birchall brothers have spoken of their “fantastic season” after they were crowned world champion sidecar-racers for the third time.
They went into the final round in Croatia with a healthy 30-point lead, and after winning the first of the two races, they could crack open the champagne.
“Tom and I are elated to be world champions,” said a jubilant one half of the team, Ben Birchall. “We have had a fantastic season in the world series this year and we can’t thank everyone enough. Without our sponsors, friends and family, we would not have been able to achieve this.
“The decision to go to the 600cc class early has certainly paid off for us. It was the perfect choice by the FIM (Federation of International Motorcycling) to make the world championship a 600cc event, and the best way forward for our sport.
“We now look forward to getting home and bringing another world championship back to Mansfield.”
The Birchalls, who are supported by Mitchells, of Mansfield, first won the world title in 2009 before repeating their success in 2016. In search of the hat-trick, they dominated the two qualifying sessions in Croatia, setting a fastest time to take pole position for the opening ten-lap sprint race.
As the lights went out, two of their rivals shot into the lead, but Ben and Tom were hot on their heels on their LCR Yamaha R6 and by the end of lap one, they had taken over in front. They steadily pulled away from the pack and crossed the finish line more than ten seconds clear of the runners-up.
The victory put the overall title out of the reach of their rivals, leaving the brothers free to enjoy the second race of the round the following day without any pressure. With dramatic irony, however, they had to sit out the 18-lap race completely after their machine turned on its side and slid down the track during the warm-up lap. It was found that the reason was a rear-tyre puncture after rain just before the race.
Having won every race in the championship until then, the blow denied them a full house, which was disappointing. But the Birchalls were still all smiles when they picked up their trophies and medals, which completed a memorable season. Theyachieved a clean sweep at the Isle Of Man TT races and victory in every round of the British 600 Cup that they have been able to contest so far. They now hope to win the final two rounds at Assen and Brands Hatch.