With the Isle of Man TT set to kick off tomorrow in the middle of the Irish sea – we thought we’d bring you up to speed with one section of the grid that gets less coverage than the others; the Sidecar TT.
With five straight wins and the outright lap record, it’ll be Ben and Tom Birchall who start the two weeks on the Island as clear favourites on their LCR Honda. Having dominated the opening round of the British Sidecar Championship, the Birchall Brothers will be looking to maintain their top form around the 37.73-mile circuit and add to their impressive haul of eight TT wins.
And the usual suspects are queueing up behind them – with John Holden and Lee Cain of Silicone Barnes Racing and Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes of Tim Reeves Racing having almost broken the 118mph barrier twelve months ago in pursuit of the Birchalls.
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Dave Molyneux (DMR/A&J Racing) will also be aiming for the top step in 2019 with his new teammate Harry Payne – as he aims to claim an unprecedented 18th TT win.
That’s not all though, Alan and Pete Founds, Jake Lowther and Jevan Walmsley and Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney will all be looking to challenge for the podium. But it’s the young pairing of Blackstock and Rosney who are the ones to watch, after finishing third in the first British Championship round at Oulton Park this season.
The top ten seeds completed by Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle (Town Garage Bellas Honda), Steve and Matty Ramsden (Ramsden Racing Honda), and Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde (GBM UK/Drury Engineering Honda).
One driver hoping to get amongst the top six this year will be the fastest female driver ever around the Mountain Course, Estelle Leblond. Having lapped at more than 110mph for the first time in 2018, she’ll be hoping to go even better this time around with new passenger Frank Claeys. There’ll campaign the Optimark Road Racing Suzuki.
Other teams more than capable of getting in amongst the top ten include former European Champion Gary Knight with Dan Evanson in the chair, Wayne Lockey and Mark Sayers, the returning Rob Handcock and Ken Edwards, rapid locals Darren Hope and Lenny Bumfrey, and veteran Greg Lambert partnered this time by Ben McBride. Michael Jackson, last year’s best newcomer, has Sarah Stokoe alongside him for his second TT campaign – and father-and-son combination of Gary and Darryl Gibson will look to break the 110mph barrier this year having been just a whisker away in 2018.
As always, there’s also a strong overseas contingent looking to make their mark including Australians Mick Alton and Stephen Bonney, and Darryl Rayner and Wendy Campbell, plus the French pairing of Francois Leblond and Marlene Couillard.
Newcomers getting their first taste of the TT in 2019 include the Irish pairing of Mark Codd and Liam Gordon, Kevin and Steve Morgan and Manx brothers Ryan and Callum Crowe – sons of former five time winner Nick Crowe. Meanwhile, leading solo competitor Maria Costello will tackle the Mountain Course for the first time on three wheels with the experienced Julie Canipa in the chair.
For more information on the Isle of Man TT, click HERE.