Reigning World Champion Sidecar racers Ben and Tom Birchall travelled to Assen in the Netherlands for the penultimate round of the British 600cc Cup that takes place within the British F1 Sidecar Championship. The Mansfield brothers recorded a double win at Assen in their class and remain in second place in the cup but with double points on offer in the final two races at Brands Hatch there is a slim chance they could win the title.
The weather played its part in qualifying and both races at Assen but the Mitchells of Mansfield supported team took it all in their stride to qualify in third place overall in the dry and went on to contest the first race on a very wet and slippery circuit on Saturday.
Starting the first race on Saturday the Birchall brothers settled into fifth place overall and second in their own class for the first couple of laps before passing Streuer/Daalhuizen and Paivarinta/Cluze to move up into third place overall and first in the Cup.
They passed Kershaw on lap four which elevated them to second place and with a clear track ahead of them set the fastest overall lap of the race on lap six with a 2m 09.935mph lap which is an amazing feat considering they were giving away 400cc to the F1 outfits.
They began to reel in the race leaders Reeves/Reeves who were circulating some way ahead but although they reduced the gap considerably on lap seven the red flag prevented them from further progress when the track became too dangerous to continue and the Race Director declared a result at two thirds distance.
The weather changed on Sunday and dry and bright conditions greeted the outfits as they formed the grid for race two. With the top 10 places on the grid being reversed Ben and Tom set off from row five making progress through the field up to fifth place overall on lap five of the 10 lap affair. They were gradually homing in on the two outfits ahead and were right on their tails on the final lap when one of the two outfits ahead lost control and tipped over which caused the red flag to curtail the track action. Ben and Tom were credited with fourth place overall and another decisive win in the British 600 Cup class.
Ben said: “it was a fantastic weekend for us at Assen and we were really pleased with the times we set and the progress made with the bike this year. We were in the mix with the bigger bikes in both wet and dry conditions and able to stay competitive. What really pleased us was that we were able to get within a second of the F1 lap times in the dry which is a great achievement and shows the progress we have made with the machine this year. We now turn our attention to the final round where we will be seeking some top results in the chase for the title.”
The final round is at Brands Hatch on October 15 when the riders will benefit from double points in each race. Despite missing four rounds - nine races - which clashed with the World championship Ben and Tom find themselves in second place in the Cup on 90 points having won every race they have contested and with 40 points on offer at Brands Hatch they could still win the title. If they win both races their total will be 130 points but current leaders Ellis/Richardson would have to finish lower than third place to be denied their first championship win.
pic credit Dave Yeomans