Locate.im Sidecar TT – 2 laps, 75.46 miles
Before the race even started there was drama for up-and-coming pair Ryan and Callum Crowe who didn’t take part in the second sidecar race of the 2019 TT in the cruelest of circumstances. The duo were left scrabbling to get their outfit going in the final minutes before the off with a technical problem. One of the biggest stories of the sidecar racing world so far, it was cruel affectation for the pair to deal with at the most stressful part of racing on The Island.
From the start of the two-lap, no pit-stop, race it was Ben and Tom Birchall away in first spot with John Holden and Lee Cain in second, third off the line was Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes with Alan Founds and Jake Lowther fourth, Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley were the fifth outfit away.
Glen Helen for the first time and the Birchalls, much the favourites going into this race, were indeed in the lead over Holden and Cain – 1.060s was the advantage in the early stages with Founds and Lowther a further 3.718s back.
Ballaugh Bridge showed that Holden and Cain were pushing though with the second place men pulling back a fraction with now 0.975 splitting the duo and the leading, Birchall-shaped pair. Elsewhere Alan Founds and Jake Lowther were suffering and stopped at Sarah’s Cottage to make adjustments to their outfit.
Found and Walmsley were 10.249s further back in third place but looked comfortable with 6.408s in hand over Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney in fourth.
The 129th sidecar race to take part on the 100 years of the TT existence was starting to turn into another Ben and Tom masterclass and, indeed, at Ramsey the Birchalls were smashing it with a now very serious 2.757s advantage ahead of Holden and Cain. In the run up to The Mountain, Ben and Tom has everything ideal to grow that lead even further.
By The Bungalow the lead has extended again, this time to a full 6.273s over Holden and Cain. With Founds and Walmsley a comfortable 32s ahead of fourth place Blackstock and Rosney, the race looked very much like a Birchall benefit with the final, flying lap about to begin.
Over the line to start that flying lap and the gap, increasing at every check point around the Mountain Course, was up to 10.602s clocking an impressive 118.38mph lap from a standing start as they began their last lap en route to a seventh TT win. 18m 59.86s from Glen Helen to Glen Helen really showed the Birchall’s pace – all eyes switched to the pair as they really put the hammer down early on.
13.043s at Glen Helen, the lead was 14.600s at Ballaugh and 16.743s at Ramsey and by The Bungalow for the last time of asking the gap back to Holden and Cain had grown further to 19.265s. It looked like the first ever sub-19 minute sidecar lap (for the record to stand the time is clocked from the Grandstand to the Grandstand) might just be on.
By Cronk-ny-Mona the gap was virtually static at 19.992s, signalling that Ben and Tom had decided to roll off from the record pace slightly to ensure the win.
The seventh sidecar win in a row, their tenth TT win overall came with a 20.511s leads over Holden and Cain – it was a truly outstanding performance by the Birchalls once again.
Speaking from Parc Ferme, Ben said: “That was hard that with it being a two-lap race it put the pressure on a bit. To win ten TTs is an absolute honour.
“I wanted to have a look from the start. It was the end of a long week but it was good. It wasn’t really good for pushing at the end and it was a case of pushing it home and taking the win, that’s what it was all about.”
Tom added: “I’m lost for words with that being our tenth TT win. We’re over the moon with that. We had a bit of a problem with the brake fluid reservoir, I had to keep winding it on and keeping it tight so that could have been a real problem for us but it was OK in the end.”
Holden said: “That’s 12 podiums in a row and that amazing. Our team is fantastic and it was a really good performance. We were close but they just managed to edge it away.”
Third place finishers over the line were Founds and Walmsley. Peter said: “We just rode our own race, we made a few setting changes from the first race so we were taking it carefully for the first few corners.
“The bike was handling better with a full fuel load and Jevan was amazing. We’re working better as a pair now and we’re getting better each time we go out.”
Jevan added: “There was a couple of fast moments round the rights where the outfit pushed and twitched a bit, but it was OK really.”