Record break­ers

Bir­challs make his­tory with dou­ble win and 117mph lap record

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RACE RE­PORTER

Ben and Tom Bir­chall are the new kings of TT side­car rac­ing. The Mans­field broth­ers have won six three-wheeler TTS af­ter their dom­i­nant dou­ble in 2017. Hav­ing made their Moun­tain course de­but in 2009 they un­der­lined their supremacy by be­com­ing the first crew to lap the 37.73-mile cir­cuit at over 117mph on their way to win­ning the first Side­car TT this year.

Ben said: “I didn’t re­alise we had bro­ken the 117mph bar­rier. I saw peo­ple wav­ing at Quar­ter­bridge but it wasn’t un­til we got to Bal­lacraine and I saw a board that had 117 on it that I re­alised we had done it.”

The duo knew they had the pace to break the record af­ter com­ing close to equalling their ex­ist­ing record dur­ing prac­tice week.

“We lost a night of prac­tice at the start of the week,” Ben ex­plained.

“Others went quicker in our ab­sence and that played on my mind so when we got out in the Satur­day ses­sion I felt I had to put my foot down a lit­tle bit. Set­ting off at num­ber one made me un­sure what way to play things as well – I won­dered if I should let some­one else past or not.”

The two laps they put in dur­ing the Satur­day prac­tice ses­sion were to be the foun­da­tion of what was to come in Mon­day’s race, high­light­ing the ex­traor­di­nary bond the broth­ers share in their de­sire to win.

“In the first ses­sion I was a long way in front of where Tom was in terms of be­ing up to speed,” Ben re­calls.

“Be­fore the af­ter­noon ses­sion I asked him how he wanted to play it – go for it or just take it steady away. Tom just looked di­rectly at me and said ‘you just ride your bike.’

“That’s when we did the 116.675mph lap and ev­ery­thing clicked into place for us. We knew we where we needed to be.”

Af­ter putting the ham­mer down on lap one of Mon­day’s race, the broth­ers opened a gap on their ri­vals.

“We were eight or nine sec­onds up but I thought that wasn’t enough,” Ben ex­plained.

“So I was just go­ing for it and ev­ery­thing was go­ing good on that sec­ond lap. Al­though we had a big mo­ment at Union Mills when we nearly ended up in the Post Of­fice!

“We were just car­ry­ing so much more speed through there and we got a big jump on the rise and ended up run­ning along the gut­ter. We had another big jump at Rhen­cullen too.”

With the land­mark record un­der their belt, Ben eased off slightly on the last lap to win by 26 sec­onds from John Holden and Lee Cain with Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle third.

In a week when none of the solo rid­ers got any­where near the ex­ist­ing lap records, it was a mo­ment of im­mense sat­is­fac­tion for the Bir­chall broth­ers who eat, sleep and dream side­car rac­ing.

“The TT is big­ger for side­cars than the world cham­pi­onships,” the dou­ble world cham­pion says. “It is the big­gest event of the year for us full stop.”

Their TT achieve­ments are the re­sult of an al­most fa­nat­i­cal ded­i­ca­tion to de­tail. Ben added: “We have crafted our ap­proach over the last six or seven years.

“We have had the same two me­chan­ics with us all that time and ev­ery­thing we do is al­most a rit­ual. The petrol is put in the tank at 4pm ev­ery day, we even go for an ice cream at the same time ev­ery day. Ev­ery­thing else can fall apart around you at the TT, but by keep­ing to our set ways of do­ing things we keep ev­ery­thing or­dered and con­sis­tent.”

Al­though they were un­able to break their own lap record in race two, they took a com­fort­able win.

Ben con­cluded: “It’s been fan­tas­tic. The sun is out, the banks are lined with fans – where else would you rather be than rid­ing around the TT course with your brother?”

‘Where else would you rather be than rid­ing around the TT course with your brother?’

The Bir­challs took con­trol of both side­car races

Some cel­e­bra­tion for the side­car teams af­ter a great race

Broth­erly love is there for all to see as Bir­challs cel­e­brate

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