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MAIDEN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY FOR BIRCHALL BROTHERS AT RIJEKA, CROATIA

Mansfield's FIM World Sidecar Championship contenders, Ben and Tom Birchall, rode to a magnificent victory, at Rijeka in Croatia at the weekend, aboard their Mitchells of Mansfield sponsored LCR Suzuki. The brothers collected maximum points in the main race of the day, which was the 20-lap Gold Race and added to their 16 points accrued the previous day in the sprint race, gives them a total of 112 points, moving them up into third place in the World Championship, with just one race remaining.

After Friday's free practice and first qualifying, Ben and Tom were in provisional third place, with only 0.8 of a second separating the top three teams. Their lap times improved during the second qualifying session and being only 0.14 of a second off pole, moved them up to second place for a front row start.

After finishing third in the Match Race final and picking up a valuable 16 points, Ben said, "We didn't get off to a very good start but managed to work our way through to finish third. With only four points between us and Dellanoy, we have to beat him tomorrow if we are to move up to third in the Championship and Tom and I are now feeling quite confident for Sunday's race."

Ben and Tom made a good start in Sunday's 20-lap Gold Race but it was Dellanoy and Cluze who held on to the lead for the first few laps, with positions rapidly changing behind them during the fast and furious race. The Mansfield brothers managed to pass Dellanoy and held the lead for eight laps until current world champions Reeves and Farrance made a brief visit to the front of the pack, but it was short-lived, as Reeves dropped back, leaving the Birchalls and Paivarinta fighting for the lead, with the Birchalls getting ahead!

Lap 13 saw the exit of Dellanoy and Cluze after their engine blew, leaving the Birchalls, Reeves and Paivarinta having a tremendous battle, driving through the corners three abreast! Paivarinta then passed Reeves but couldn't catch the Birchalls, who were first to the chequered flag, gaining their well-deserved first World Championship victory, a maximum 25 points and a move up to third place in the Championship table.

After the trophy presentation, an elated Ben said, "This is our first Grand Prix victory and we will never forget this day. We thank all of our sponsors and friends who have supported us ever since we started racing. Tom and I now look forward to the final Superside round on September 19-21 at Le Mans, France, where last year we set a new lap record."


 

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