Birchall brothers on brink of third world sidecar title
Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall recorded a terrific win in the penultimate round of the FIM World Sidecar Championship in the Netherlands to remain unbeaten and move 30 points clear at the top of the standings.
Now the riders, who are backed by Mitchells of Mansfield, are on the brink of another magnificent world crown with just one round, and two races, left.
The Birchalls dominated free practice and also the qualifying session to claim pole position at the Cathedral of Speed track in Assen on the Saturday to start the following day’s 17-lap gold race from the head of the grid.
The brothers went on to take a lights-to-flag victory on their LCR/Yamaha machine, although they didn’t have it all their own way because they were chased from the off by arch rivals Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen.
The two outfits were in close formation for the first seven of the 17 laps before Ben decided it was time to pull the plug and shake off the attention of the Finnish pair.
Steadily, the Mansfield duo began to pull clear, and by lap ten, they were into the backmarkers. They remained in control of the race to cross the finish line some seven seconds ahead of their rivals, with the fellow British pair of John Holden and Mark Wilks bringing their LCR/Kawasaki home in third place.
On returning home this week, Ben said: “We had a fantastic result at Assen in the World Championships in front of a massive 90,000-strong crowd, and we took one step closer to the world title.
“Once again, our thanks must go to our sponsors for their continued support and also to the organisers for such a great event.”
The final round of the series is at the Grobnik Automotodrom in Croatia over the weekend of September 8 and 9 when the Birchall brothers will contest a sprint race on the Saturday and then the gold race on the Sunday.
With an advantage of 30 points over Paivarinta and 50 championship points up for grabs in Croatia, Ben and Tom need to just finish the first race ahead of their nearest rivals to claim their third world title and their second in the 600cc class.
Prior to the trip to Croatia, the Birchalls will be at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire this coming Sunday (August 20) to take part in the British Championship sidecar races which are run as a support to the British Superbike Championship.