Isle of Man TT: Double Top for Birchall Brothers
Ben and Tom Birchall won the second Sure Formula Two Sidecar race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races on Friday afternoon, taking victory by 26.5 seconds from John Holden and Lee Cain in a repeat result of the opening race on Monday. The Birchalls hit the front for the first time on the run from Glen Helen to Ballaugh on lap one and were never challenged again as they took their sixth TT victory. Holden took his 17th podium in second with Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle, in their first TT together, in third.
After taking the lead, the Birchalls surged over the Mountain and an opening lap of 115.567mph saw their lead increase to 7.9 seconds and it was Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes who were now in second with Holden and Cain a further 1.2seconds adrift. Alan Founds and Jake Lowther were in fourth with Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney going great guns in fifth.
At the head of the field, the Birchalls extended their lead to 13.5 seconds but Holden and Cain were now back up to second as Reeves and Wilkes stopped at Glen Helen before retiring soon after at Lambfell. Founds and Lowther were also in trouble and they retired at Quarter Bridge, which saw Blackstock and Rosney move up to fourth.
A second lap of 116.423mph meant the Birchalls went into the third and final lap with a healthy 20 seconds lead over Holden and Cain with Blackstock and Rosney maintaining their third position courtesy of their maiden 110mph plus lap around the Mountain Course at 110.599mph.
There were to be no changes in the front two over the final 37.73-miles but Blackstock and Rosney slowed and that allowed Harrison and Winkle to take third, the former having to settle for fourth.
Karl Bennett and Maxime Vasseur came through for fifth but there was disappointment for the French female pairing of Estelle Leblond and Melanie Farrier who, after lapping at 109.394mph, were forced to retire from sixth on the final lap. The top ten was completed by Tony Baker and Fiona Baker-Holden, Rob Handcock and Ken Edwards, Greg Lambert and Julie Canipa, Wayne Lockey and Mark Sayers and Gary Knight and Dan Evanson.
Speaking at the post race conference Ben Birchall was asked about the race win “What an honour to be able to race around this place, being involved in it all and certainly being at the front. Racing against such class competitors and being able to beat them is an honour.
We don’t take it lightly. None of our team do. We all work so hard to get this. It’s down to them that we are all here. It’s been a tough week with the weather and I’m full of flu. It’s fantastic. Thank you.”
Passenger Tom added “It just felt so comfortable, it just felt perfect. Where else would you want to be racing around the island on a bike with your brother? It clicked and it just felt great to do. It was tough. You see the board on lap two saying plus twenty and it plays on your mind a bit and you listen to every noise. I had a word with myself and thought where else would you want to be.
Words and images by Glynne Lewis