5:00 PM was the start time for the 3Wheeling.Media Sidecars opener of TT 2023, held in sun drenched conditions. Lap 1: Pre-race favourites the Birchall brothers Ben & Tom, made a blistering start, opening up a nigh-on four seconds lead at Glen Helen. Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley, anticipated to provide the strongest opposition to the Mansfield pairing occupied second with third obtained by Ryan Crowe/Callum Crowe. Onto the Ballaugh Bridge timing point and the Birchalls had extended their lead to plus five seconds. At Ramsey Hairpin, the Birchalls advantage reduced slightly to below 3.6 seconds following a competent burst of pace from Founds/Walmsley. Normal service was resumed at the Bungalow, with the Birchalls taking almost 1.3 seconds out of Founds/Walmsley. The FHO Racing crew got the gap to the race leader’s down to 3.506 seconds at Cronk Ny Mona and by the lap’s conclusion stood 3.357 in arrears. 23.348 further back were the Crowes with P4 swooped up by Barnes Racing’s John Holden/Maxime Vasseur. Early race retirements included Mountain Course legends, KTM powered Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle, Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes and starting his 50th TT race, Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle. Lap 2: 1.6 seconds inside the existing lap record on the run to Glen Helen, Ben Birchall had literally got the hammer down. Founds/Walmsley remained in close proximity, albeit now 6.778 behind. 10.129 seconds covered the front runners at Ballaugh Bridge with the Honda powered Birchalls still on record breaking pace. A 120-mph lap looming? Fittingly on the 100th Anniversary of Sidecar racing at the TT Races, the Birchalls finally cracked the 120-mph barrier, 120.357 mph, the first ever 120 mph lap by a Sidecar team, history, history, history! Second placed Founds/Walmsley 16 seconds adrift, themselves created their own history, setting a new personal best lap speed of 119.023 mph. Long term third place holders, the Haven Homes backed Crowe brothers challenge came to a close which enabled Holden/Vasseur to drop into third. Lap 3: 19 seconds to the good at Glen Helen, the record breaking Birchalls were in pole position for a twelfth successive Sidecar TT victory. Looking serene through Ramsey Hairpin, over the Mountain, TT glory number thirteen was unlocked in forthright fashion, leading home Founds/Walmsley by just past 24 seconds. Race winners the Birchalls, have now surpassed the legendary Bruce Anstey in terms of TT race wins, stand one win behind Mike Hailwood within the all-time winners list and now have in total 15 rostrum finishes. Holden/first time podium finisher Vasseur edged the Ramsden’s Steve & Matty for third after a gallant effort from the Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough regulars. Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde banked fifth whilst sixth was top newcomer driver Daryl Gibson/Tom Christie. Rounding out the first ten finishers were Wayne Lockey/Matty Rostron, Greg Lambert/Andrew Haynes, John Saunders/James Saunders and Alan Founds/Colin Smyth. TT 2023 – 3Wheeling.Media Sidecar Race 1 Result: 1st – Ben Birchall/Tom Birchall 2nd – Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley 3rd – John Holden/Maxime Vasseur 4th – Steve Ramsden/Matty Ramsden 5th – Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde 6th – Daryl Gibson/Tom Christie 7th – Wayne Lockey/Matty Rostron 8th – Greg Lambert/Andrew Haynes 9th – John Saunders/James Saunders 10th – Alan Founds/Colin Smyth 11th – Dan Knight/Ben Hughes 12th – Darren Hope/Lenny Bumfrey 13th – Mike Jackson/Jake Roberts 14th – Shaun Chandler/Ben Chandler 15th – Alun Thomas/Kenny Cole 16th – Michael Russell/Vicky Cooke 17th – Craig Melvin/Stuart Christian 18th – Bruce Moore/Mark Gash 19th – Derek Lynch/Anthony McDonnell Photo credit: Mark Corlett, Nick Wheeler Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou
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