ISLE OF MAN TT LAUNCH LIVE TO VIEW
Following on from their superb record of seven poles, seven wins and seven fastest laps in last year’s world championship Ben and Tom continued their winning streak where they left off by posting the fastest lap time, setting a new lap record, pole position and a resounding victory in the opening round of the 2014 FIM World Sidecar Championship at Aragon in Spain on Sunday.
Last year the Birchalls were using a borrowed outfit for the Spanish race courtesy of John Lawson as they were having teething problems with their own machine and subsequently they took their time to dial in on the new outfit at the weekend.
The Mitchells of Mansfield pair were second fastest in first qualifying on their LCR Suzuki but went on to claim pole in the final session on Saturday setting their fastest lap in the dying seconds.
After the session both Ben and Tom were really pleased with how things went, Ben said “I am very happy with the bike; it is going really well. We used the same rubber throughout qualifying so know we have the race pace.”
As the 15-lap World Championship race got underway on Sunday there was a battle for position between the three leading outfits and they swapped places several times in the first few laps. But the Birchalls finally got the better of Reeves/Cluze to move into second place and having a clear track in front of them set about reeling in the race leaders Steinhausen/Kolsch who they overtook on lap five to take the race lead.
Once they had their nose cone in front there was no stopping the Mansfield duo who gradually began to pull away from the following outfits posting the fastest time of the race with a 2m 06.759s on lap 10. Ben and Tom continue
d to extend their lead over the remaining laps and crossed the finish line for the win with an 8.398s advantage over second place riders Steinhausen/Kolsch. Reeves/Cluze came home in third place some 23 seconds later.
Ben said: “We are thrilled to bits to secure our first win of the new campaign and the bike was perfect from start to finish. We found the first few laps quite difficult as we were all three challenging for the lead but once we got in front we were very comfortable with the pace we were able to maintain.
“All the work we have put in over the winter months with John Baker has paid off immediately and to come away from Spain with a race win, lap record and the championship lead is fantastic for us. We are pleased to welcome a number of new sponsors on board this year and what better way to repay them for their support than to win on our first outing.
The next round is on home tarmac at Donington Park in Leicestershire over the weekend of May 23-25 when Ben and Tom will be anxious to add to their points tally to extend their championship lead.