Road Racing News

TT 2018: Preview – Part 1 – Sidecar Races

A who’s who of Sidecar racing will embark upon Mountain Course competition next week, which includes the all-conquering TT team of recent years the Birchall brothers, Ben and Tom.

Having won five of the last six Sidecar TT races, they’ve already established themselves as unquestionably one of the true three wheeling TT greats.

Will they reign supreme again this year? There’s no doubt that they have the undoubted talent plus the machinery in the form of their Honda powered IEG (International Energy Group) backed outfit to increase their already majestic TT CV.

Photo by Rod Neill

Anticipated leading challengers to the Mansfield duo include World Championship title rivals, Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes.

Former TT winner Reeves, lead newcomer of TT 2017 Wilkes, who’s latest TT tenure sees them compete under the Carl Cox Motorsport banner are quietly confident of challenging for race wins.

The same notion applies to Manx Mountain Course legends Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle. The duo who have between an astonishing 25 TT wins, Suzuki powered outfit for TT 2018 dubbed the ‘Batmobile’ has a stealth like feel to it.

Photo by Jim Gibson

Can it bring Molyneux/Sayle another TT triumph together? Time will tell but you can never ever discount the all star team from contending for race honours.

Runner up in both of last years Sure Sidecar races, two times TT winner John Holden/rising star Lee Cain could well prove the biggest threat to ending the Birchall’s Mountain Course dominance.

Like their illustrious counterparts Honda powered, they’ve proved in 2017 the perfect blend of experience and up coming next generation talent.

Photo by Mark Corlett

More than capable of standing on the top step of the new look TT rostrum, they form part of a first time two crew Silicone Engineering Racing Sidecar effort which now also includes the improving Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney.

Like Alan Founds/Jake Lowther and Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley, Blackstock/Rosney represent a new breed of driver/passengers confident of taking the battle to the seasoned event front runners.

It wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see this June the likes of the three teams above wrap up at minimum rostrum finishes, don’t discount as well former TT champions Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle from rolling back the years and chalking up a few podium placings.

Additional crews capable of springing a surprise or two include Wayne Lockey/Kenny Cole, Karl Bennett/Maxime Vasseur, Steve Ramsden/Matty Ramsden, Gary Knight/Daniel Evanson, TT returnees Gary Horspole/Rob Biggs, Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde and the Beverley based father & son duo of Gary Gibson/Daryl Gibson.

Photo by Nick Wheeler

Leading overseas competitors entered include Estelle Leblond/Melanie Farnier, Michael Grabmuller/Sebastien Lavorel, plus Germany’s Mike Roscher who links up for TT 2018 with Shaun Parker.

Further depth to the 42 strong entry is provided by the likes of the vastly experienced Tony Baker/Fiona Baker Holden, Gordon Shand/Frank Claeys, Greg Lambert/Julie Canipa, Craig Melvin/Stuart Christian and Mike Cookson/William Moralee.

Newcomers to watch include Michael Jackson/Harry Payne, French driver Paul Leglise and Leeds based James Saunders who will compete alongside seasoned TT racer John Saunders.

Overall a truly top, top draw entry for the Sidecar races of TT 2018. Despite the obvious lack of publicity from specific media outlets, the Sidecars popularity with a new generation of TT fans continues to increase.

They provide something different from the norm, mixing specialist engineering, proper old school racing with moments of absolute motorsport brilliance.

Words by Stevie Rial

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