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Birchall Brothers top the podium

Tuesday July 15, 2014 at 1:21pm
Birchall Brothers top the podium

FIM Sidecar World Championship, Round Five, Sachsenring, Germany.

It looked like the afternoon was going to be wet; there was rain just before the Moto GP race, and the skies were very dark, but the skies cleared and the sun came out for the 22 lap sidecar race.

Just before the sighting lap there was one minute of silence in honour to Enrico Becker, who succumbed to his injuries in a crash during qualifying yesterday.

When the sidecar teams assembled at the line, 3rd place on the grid, Andre Kretzer and Jens Lehnertz, with the rest of the team made the decision not to race due to the accident the previous day. The team with members from “Team Hock “took the spot on the grid as a mark of respect to Enrico Becker and to support the Hock family. When the lights went out it was Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze who got the whole shot into the first corner with their “The Relocator” LCR, Kawasaki, closely followed by the Birchall Brothers Ben and Tom with their “Mitchells of Mansfield” LCR, Suzuki. The two teams were to have a great battle right to the line and the chequered flag. It was Reeves and Cluze who had the upper hand in the early stages of the race over the Birchalls, but not by much, the Birchalls were always nipping at the heels of Reeves and Cluze.

Third into the first corner was Robert Zimmermann and Sander Faber on their “Zimmermann-Faber” LCR, Suzuki followed by Bennie Streuer and Geert Koerts on their “Team Streuer” LCR, Suzuki, right on their tail was Jakob Rutz and Thomas Hofer with their “Sidecar Racing Team Rutz” LCR, Yamaha. Streuer and Koerts stuck with Zimmermann/Faber, when on lap nine Uwe Gurck and Manfred Wechselberger on their “Polizei Sport Verein Wels” LCR, BMW, who had a reasonable start to the race, managed to pass both Rutz and Streuer for the fourth place. This was short lived though, Streuer/Koerts managed to pass again on the next lap, by this time though, with the three teams battling together, this gave Zimmermann/Faber a bit of a breather from Streuer/Koerts. Gurck and Wechselberger push for the front was short lived too, they were to pull into pit lane and retire from the race on lap 10. Rutz and Hofer were on the charge now and were closing down on Streuer/Koerts, they managed to catch and pass Streuer/Koerts on lap 17, and they gave chase to Zimmermann/Faber. By the end of the race Rutz /Hofer were right on the tail of Zimmermann/Faber but would have to be content with fourth place, only 0.150 behind third place Zimmermann/Faber

At the front the battle between Reeves/Cluze and the Birchalls was hotting up, the Birchalls were to pass Reeves and Cluze on numerous occasions but Reeves and Cluze would take the position back again. It went down to the last corner, and the dash for the line Reeves and Cluze fought off an attempt by the Birchalls into the last corner and looked if they would take the win, but the Birchalls had good drive out of the corner and pulled alongside Reeves and Cluze, they were to take the chequered flag with only 0.145 between them.

After the podium third place team Robert Zimmermann and a very emotional Sander Faber said “This is my first podium at this level of racing, but I and the whole team are so sad with what happened yesterday, sure third is great, but it should be “Team Hock” here.

Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze still lead the Championship with 136 points, Cluze said “I am happy with this, but I am very sad with what happened yesterday, I would like to dedicate the podium place to “Team Hock” my thoughts are with all involved” Reeves also said “We had a great race with Ben and Tom, it came down to the line and I just could not get it. But really my thoughts are with all the family and friends of Enrico, and with Kurts wife and family hoping that Kurt will make a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

Winners of the race Ben and Tom Birchall, were both happy with the win, which keeps them in second spot in the championship with 90 points. After the podium Ben said “We had a great race with Tim and Greg, but events yesterday really hit you. It is a real loss to sidecar racing; we are all a big family in the sidecar paddock, we would like to dedicate the race to Enrico and Hope that Kurt recovers well” Tom also said “Ben drove a great race, his hand is still not fully healed, it’s great we had a great race with Tim and Gregory, but my thoughts are with family and friends of Enrico, and hope Kurt makes a speedy recover.

Text and Pictures Mark Walters

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