Frustrated Birchalls are hit by engine problems

The Birchall brothers on the podium after Saturday's sprint race in Hungary. (PHOTO BY: Mark Walters)
The Birchall brothers on the podium after Saturday's sprint race in Hungary. (PHOTO BY: Mark Walters)

Plagued by electrical issues, Mansfield’s Birchall brothers endured mixed fortunes at the fourth round of the FIM Sidecar World Championshiop in Hungary over the weekend.

The reigning world champions were able to salvage a valuable third place in Saturday’s sprint race, but were unfortunately forced to retire from Sunday’s gold race.

Ben Birchall said: “I am really disappointed but these are the highs and low of racing.

“All in all, we have been lucky in recent years with a relatively trouble-free run for a long time. Unfortunately, this year, we have had a couple of niggles that have hampered our progress in the defence of our world title.

“On the plus side, we now know what the problem is and we have shown we have the pace to take wins when everything is going right.

“We’ll go home now and make some repairs to hopefully fix the issue once and for all. We’ll take the outfit out at Brands Hatch to test things and, hopefully, we will be rewarded with a good run-out.”

Brother Tom said: “It’s always tough to come away from a meeting knowing you had the pace to take the win but weren’t able to do so. It’s genuinely disappointing.

“What makes it worse was all the hard work put in by the team overnight and we weren’t able to reward them with a good result.

“There are still plenty of points left in the championship to earn, though, so we’ll get everything sorted and be back ready to take the fight to the others at the next world round at Assen in the Netherlands next month.”

Warm temperatures and clear skies greeted the teams as they arrived at the Pannonia Ring, and after a successful free practice, the Birchalls showed their intent by claiming pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session.

But as the sprint race got under way, rider Ben soon became aware the outfit was lacking the top speed necessary to fight for the win. Putting in a superb ride, he still did his best and was able to net valuable championship points.

Working into the small hours overnight, the team did their best to source and remedy the fault. But when it came to start their engine for Sunday’s gold race, the motor refused to fire.

The brothers still got out in time to make the grid, and as the lights went out to mark the start, they got off the line well and moved up to second place. But on lap three, the technical issue again reared its head and the LCR outfit cut out, spelling the end of the race.