WORLD Sidecar Champions Ben and Tom Birchall demolished the field to win Mallory Park’s Sidecar Race of the Year this weekend.
The Mansfield men have been going from strength to strength this year, taking two wins at the Isle of Man TT, 11 victories in the RKB F1 Sidecar Championship’s 600 Cup class and lifting the FIM trophy, but they decided to head down the M1 to test themselves at the Leicestershire track’s annual event this Sunday.
After outfits were scrapped from the 2016 Race of the Year due to lack of entry, the Birchalls were keen to come out swinging – and they did just that with a scorching 54.432sec lap in qualifying, beating Sean Hegarty and Matty Ramsden to pole position by nearly three seconds as Lowther boys John and Jake lined up just behind them alongside Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies.
But it was Smith and Dobie on the Baker Yamaha who nabbed the early hole shot when the lights went out as Bruce and Ashley Moore gave chase aboard their Ireson outfit, with the Birchalls struggling back in seventh among the eight running sidecars.
By lap three, however, the world champs took over at the front and just a third of the way through the 18-lap scrap, they had stretched a nearly 10-second lead over the Lowthers and Hegarty/Ramsden, who were in their own battle for the runner-up spot.
Hegarty and Ramsden slipped by the Lowthers and began to pull ahead, but no one was any match for the Birchalls, who cruised across the line 25.298 seconds clear of Hegarty/Ramsden and over 30 ahead of the Lowthers in third.
While the Notts duo opted to sit out the 10-lap support and Phil Dongworth Memorial Trophy race, the Lowthers shot out to an early lead ahead. But once again Hegarty and Ramsden slipped by just two laps in and pulled a nearly two-second gap over them at the chequered flag as the Moores cruised home in a lone third.
*Main image: JTW Motorsports Photography
*Side image: Mallory Park