Isle of Man 2015 TT: Sidecar race two report
The second Sure sponsored Isle of Man TT sidecar race got under way on Wednesday 10th June 2015 in glorious near perfect conditions for the 42 starters lined up for the staggered start. Leading off was the 17 time winner Dave Molyneux and his passenger Benjamin Binns.
The massive crowds in the Grandstand area and around the 37.73 miles circuit were asking the same question. “Would the outright lap record held by Nick Crowe since 2007 be broken?” The question would be answered in less than an hour’s time.
Molyneux was followed from the start line by Conrad Harrison and Mick Aylott, Ben and Tom Birchall, race one winner, Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance and John Holden and Dan Sayle. There is no doubt that the podium places would come from these five teams.
Flying down Bray Hill all the teams would be looking for a good smooth start, settling into a rhythm for the three laps which is a massive test for riders and machines alike.
Entering the first timed sector at Glen Helen, the Birchalls’ were clocked at 117 mph taking a 2.2 second lead from Holden, and Molyneux. Although to early to judge all three teams were on record pace. At the Sulby speed trap Holden wasn’t letting the Birchalls’ get away with both clocking 145 mph. Into Ramsey the lead for the brothers was 2.6 seconds over Holden with Molyneux a further 1.8 seconds behind. In fourth was Harrison, followed by the father and son team of Carl and Ian Bell and Gary Bryan and Jamie Winn in sixth place. One of the pre race favourites and previous winners Reeves and Farrance had no luck again, retiring at Gardiners Lane.
Onto the mountain for the first time the Birchalls’ lead by 3.3 seconds, from Molyneux who lead Holden by 1.03 seconds. Over the start line at the end of lap one Birchalls lead Molyneux from Holden with Harrison in fourth, Bell’s in fifth and Wayne Lockey and Mark Sayers who had replaced Bryan and Winn who retired into the pits along with Tom Peters and Alan Founds who had done so well in race one.
Yet again this race was turning into a classic. At Glen Helen the flying brothers increased their lead over Holden, who had moved into second from Molyneux by less than a second. Entering Ramsey for the second time in front of huge crowds the lead was maintained with Molyneux still breathing down Holden and Sayle’s neck. So would Holden and Moly make their moves on the mountain where the Birchalls’ are so strong? At the Bungalow the question was answered. “No.” They increased their lead with Molyneux now moving back into second with Holden 2.5 seconds back on the Manxman. Not a good few miles for the man from Blackburn hoping to add to his one win from 2011.
Over the finish line for the third and final time, Birchalls’ lead from Molyneux, Holden and much further back Harrison in fourth followed by Bells’ and now Matt Dix and Shaun Parker. Incredible the first three crossed the line at over 116 mph with the second lap taking the leaders 19 minutes and 26.393 seconds. Surely now the all time lap record would be broken and barring any mishaps a double must now be on the cards for the flying Birchall brothers.
At Glen Helen it was the same order with the Birchall’s maintaining a 7 second lead. Again into Ramsey for the last time there was no change with less than eight seconds between the top three.
Holden seemed to have regrouped and was less than a second off Moly. So yet again in so many TT races the mountain was where this race would be won. Molyneux again took second spot and the imperious Birchalls’ maintained their 7.5 second lead. There was nothing more Molyneux and Holden could do. The run down from Creg-ny-Baa was a mere formality for Ben and Tom crossing the line a few minutes later to take the double win and take their third win overall, followed by Molyneux and then John Holden and Dan Sayle.
The consolation for Dave Molyneux and Benjamin Binns was that they broke the outright lap record held by Nick Crowe since 2007. Their time was 116.785 mph with the winner’s time at 116.783 mph. This makes this the fastest sidecar race in TT history. With Monday’s race these were the two fastest races in the TT history, no wonder the crowds were in awe of all these teams.
To complete the top six, Conrad Harrison and Mike Aylott in fourth, Ian and Carl Bell in fifth and a superb 110mph lap for sixth placed Matt Dix and Shaun Parker.
Afterwards as you can imagine Ben and Tom were delighted. Ben said “I knew it was close with Dave (Molyneux) and lost my rhythm a bit but I tidied my driving up and gave it everything from Ramsey on that final lap. Dave kept me honest of that I am sure. I had a good start and caught Conrad (Harrison) earlier than Monday’s race and the hot weather seemed to have knocked the engine off a bit as it wasn’t pulling like it should but we got home. To do those speeds and have a proper race with Dave, and beat him, is pretty special. Fair play to Tom as well, there aren’t many passengers that can do those speeds. He’s my brother, my best mate and the best passenger.”
Tom added: “I can’t thank everyone enough as no box was left unticked this year. The bike ran perfect and fair play to Ben Binns as well. It was a privilege to be part of that race and it was a faultless drive by Ben.”
A magnanimous Nick Crowe added that he was pleased the record was staying on the island with Dave Molyneux and hopefully his sidecar team would be able to take the record back.
Words by John Mushet & images by Glynne Lewis