After their engine let go on the final lap of race one earlier in the week when they were lying in a comfortable sixth place, the team worked hard to fit a new race engine ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s practice session.
The practice time gave the pair a chance to make sure everything was A-ok for Wednesday’s race but things took a dramatic turn for the worse when they hit a pheasant on the first lap as they went through Sulby.
“I thought we just gave it a glancing blow,” said Ben. “We didn’t think there was any damage so carried on to the end of the lap. Everything appeared to be ok so we went straight through to start lap two.
“But as we approached Barragarrow on our second run, the engine let go and the petrol tank burst. We were able to stop ok and on examination we discovered the bird had hit us harder than we thought and flattened the exhaust.
“So the pheasant caused us a lot of expense, time and effort. We had to replace the fuel tank, exhaust and the damaged bodywork plus find an engine for the race. We got one from a road bike but it was a standard engine and we knew our chances of a decent result in Wednesday’s race were slim.”
The team worked hard through the night to make the repairs to the outfit and they took their place on the start line for the second three-lap race around the 37.73-mile TT course.
The race had been delayed from a 1.15pm start because of earlier rain and eventually the boys set off at 6.15pm.
Because of the lack of engine speed the Birchall Brothers were down in 13th place at the Glen Helen check point and could only manage a time of 132.6mph through the Sulby speed trap – over 10mph less than those ahead.
But they began to make up ground and were running in 11th position when the race was red flagged at Ramsey. The riders were held at Ramsey for a while and then proceeded around the course back to the paddock to find the race had been abandoned.
“We saw the accident just after it had happened,” said Ben. “It looked like a plane crash with the outfit on fire. Our thoughts are with Nick and Mark who are laid up in hospital with various injuries including broken bones and the whole team wish them both a speedy recovery.
“It is a shame they cant find the time on Friday to re-run the race as it means we have been here for two weeks and not even made it to the finish line but we would like to give a big thank you to our team who have worked so hard to keep us on the track over the last two weeks and also our sponsors who have given us the opportunity to compete at the TT this year.”
The Mitchells of Mansfield/Dave Holden Racing sponsored brothers will shortly head home and begin to make preparations for their second outing in the FIM Superside F1 sidecar World Championship that is set to take place at Albacete in Spain over the weekend of July 8 – 10.
The duo are currently joint leaders in the series and a couple of good results could consolidate that.
Pic credit Wally Walters shows Ben and Tom as they started their second race.