Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall took a hard fought win in round five of the FIM World Sidecar championship at Sachsenring in Germany on Sunday.
But the weekend was tinged with sadness as they dedicated their race win to fellow competitors Kurt Hock and Enrico Becker who were involved in a tragic accident during qualifying which resulted in Enrico losing his life and Kurt hospitalised with serious injuries.
Ben said: “Although we were elated with the win after such a hard-fought battle, the terrible accident involving Kurt and Enrico was at the forefront of our minds and we would like to dedicate our win to them both.”
The Mitchells of Mansfield-supported brothers were on the pace in qualifying but struggled with traffic on their fast lap.
But considering the injury to Ben’s hand which held them back, they were more than happy to start the race from second place on the grid just 0.2 seconds away from Tim Reeves and Greg Cluze.
As the race got underway Ben and Tom moved straight into second place and immediately began a battle for the lead with Reeves. Throughout the 22 laps the lead was frequently exchanged between the two British teams and there was never more than half a second separating them.
Everything came to a head on the last lap when Ben got a good drive through the final corner and on the drag to the flag he powered the LCR Suzuki across the line to take the win with an advantage of just a tenth of a second over Reeves.
In an effort to catch and pass the leaders Ben put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1m 28.862s.
He said: “I felt surprisingly comfortable with the pace, but every time I managed to get ahead my injury prevented me from pulling clear.
“I was hoping to pressurise Tim into making a mistake but he rode an impeccable race until the final corner when he lost a bit of drive and I was able to get in front and head for the finish line.”
This win has enabled Ben and Tom to retain their second place in the rider standings and edged them a little nearer to Reeves, who holds the series lead.
By 7pm Sunday evening Ben and Tom had left the circuit to return home which enabled Ben to travel to Wigan on Tuesday morning when consultant Mike Hayton was to perform further surgery on his injured hand.
It’s back to Assen for the next round of the world championship on 3rd August when the Birchall brothers will be seeking another top result to narrow the gap to the series leaders.
Catch the race on Motors TV on Thursday at 9.30pm on Sky channel 447 or Virgin 545.
Picture by Wally Walters.