The Birchall Brothers from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire dominated practice and qualifying, claiming pole position for the two races with a time of 1.28.434s, just under half a second ahead of current world champion Pekka Paivarinta who this
year is partnered by Adolf Hanni.
As the short sprint race got underway on Saturday, the Mitchells of Mansfield sponsored brothers slotted into second place taking their time to settle into the pace before hitting the front after three laps. They held station throughout the remainder of the 11-lap affair to take the victory ahead of Paivarinta and Hanni by a margin of three and a half seconds. The two teams dominated the race, completing the 11 laps over half a minute ahead of the rest of the field with The Birchall Brothers again setting the fastest lap of the race in a time of 1m 28.289s.
It would be a tall order for Ben and Tom to take the victory in the second race as they were given a 10kg victors weight penalty but the Mansfield pair were up for the challenge and took their place at the front of the grid for the feature race of the weekend, the Gold race that was to take place over 22 laps of the German circuit.
Again there was a close battle for supremacy between the Birchall brothers and Paivarinta/Hanni and they battled throughout the entirety of the 22 laps. Ben and Tom hit the front at the midway stage of the race and began to pull clear of their rivals in search of the second victory of the weekend.
But as they began to mix with the backmarkers they didn’t get a clear run through the pack and were held up for a few vital seconds. Paivarinta made good progress and was able to make up ground to eventually regain the lead.
Ben and Tom posted the fastest lap of the race (1m 28.909s) in an effort to get back on terms with the flying Finns but ran out of time and had to be content with second place. As they crossed the finish line there was just a second separating the two outfits and with both teams taking a win and second place apiece in the two races they share the series lead.
“We lapped all the field except the three outfits behind us,” said Ben. “We are delighted to be sharing the championship lead and to have got a second world championship race win under our belts. The outfit ran like a dream, we didn’t encounter any problems whatsoever. We didn’t have the best of times passing the backmarkers which really lost the race for us. But that’s how it goes; they were running their own race, which is fair enough.
“We had to contend with the winners ballast of 10kg for the second race. But now we have passed that over to Pekka who, as race winner in the gold race, will carry it into the next round. If we had won that race we would have found it doubled to 20kg which could have caused a few problems with stability.”
The next round is at Albacete in Spain on July 4 when the team will contest just one race but prior to that Ben and Tom will make their debut at the Isle of Man TT races in early June with the F11 outfit. Practice begins on May 30 with the two three-lap sidecar races taking place on June 6 and June 10.
pic credit Wally Walters