Birchall Brothers on fire!
Ben and Tom Birchall will start from pole position with a fastest time of 1:44.474, for the 18 lap race that will kick off the 2017 “FIM Sidecar World Championship”.
Brothers Ben and Tom have been flying since free practice, and their lap times have been getting faster as the weekend has gone on. Their “Birchall Racing” LCR, Yamaha has not missed a beat all weekend. But even as qualifying had finished the team were working on the machine, checking all was okay. Driver, Ben said with a smile on his face. “We will make sure all is well with the bike, and we will see if we can improve our lap time in the race. We are really looking forward to the race tomorrow, and let’s hope all goes well”. They will start from the front row on the outside of the circuit.
Second place, and next to the Birchall Brothers, with a time of 1:46.300 will be John Holden and Mark Wilkes on their “Barnes/Sillicon Racing” LCR, Kawasaki. The pair were really going for a fast time in the first qualifier, when nearing the end of the session, passenger Wilkes noticed there was a problem with the machine. Smoke could be seen coming from the sidecar wheel area of the machine. They immediately pulled off track. Checking the machine over, they returned to the paddock. They had an oil leak from a breather pipe. The team worked hard to rectify this problem and clean the machine down, as there was not much time between Q1 and Q2. In Q2 the team took to the track for one lap and returned to pit lane, where they checked over the machine to make sure all was okay. With all looking good they did six fast laps and came back to pit lane for another check, all was good. Holden and Wilkes went back out on track and managed a good fast lap, just as Q2 was coming to an end. The team were happy how things went in the end and are all ready to go in the race.
Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau will start from third place on the grid with a time of 1:47.182. The team were happy with this and did not have any problems with their “Team Streuer” LCR, Honda. However after qualifying had finished, the team were changing their engine. Bennie explained, “I feel that the other engine we have is a bit better power wise, this engine is okay, but as I said I feel the other one we have is better. The bike is good; it is handling and braking well. We hope that the race goes all well for us and we can get a podium place with good points for the championship”.
Heading the second row, is current champions, Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen on their “44-Racing, LCR, Honda. The “Flying Finns” have had a reasonable qualifying, but they have made a lot of adjustments to their machine, mainly with the handling, adjustments to the suspension. All though they are heading the second row, they did set the second fastest time in Q2, next to the Birchall Brothers. Paivarinta and Kainulainen hope the race is good for them. “It is a long race, 18 laps, anything can happen”. Said Pekka.
Sitting next to Paivarinta and Kainulainen is, Michail Grabmuller and Sophia Kirchhofer on their “Polizeisportverein Wels Delta Racing Team” LCR, Yamaha, they set a time of 1:48.885. The team have done a lot of work to their machine over the last couple of days, all braking and suspension adjustments. The team feels that the bike is okay, not perfect, but all should be good for the race.
Heading row three is Scott Lawrie and Ben Hughes on their “Team SLR” LCR, Suzuki. Lawrie and Hughes have steadily built up their speed over the weekend, and made a lot of adjustments to their machine. But they feel there is a lot more to come. Driver Scott said, “This is the first time myself and Ben have raced together, we are getting used to how we both work with the bike. And it is a new bike so we are getting used to that too. I hope we can have a good trouble free race and get some good points for the championship”.
Next to Lawrie and Hughes in seventh spot on the grid is Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney on their “Dave Holden Racing” LCR, Suzuki, the fastest team on a short chassis. The team has done really well over the last couple of days. It is their first time at Le-Mans and their first time racing at world level. They have worked away steadily, and their lap times have steadily got quicker, rewarding them with this good seventh spot on the grid.
Sitting in eighth spot on the grid is the all French female team of Estelle Leblond and Melanie Farnier on their “Racing Side” SGR, Suzuki. The team had fitted new tyres for Q2, but they found they did not get the feel for their machine so they went back, and fitted worn tyres. This change seemed to work and the team were happy with how their machine went.
Heading row four is Jakob Rutz and Marcel Fries on their “Sidecar Racing-Team Rutz” LCR, Yamaha. The team have been using worn tyres for the practice sessions. They hope with new rubber fitted they can have a good race and get a good result.
Gunther Bachmaier and Manfred Wechselberger on their “MSV-Schwanenstadt, PSV-Wels” LCR, Suzuki, will line up next to Rutz and Fries in tenth spot on the grid. The team are still getting to grips with their long LCR chassis. But they are happy how things are going and feel the race will be good for them.
The 18 lap race will start on Saturday at 11:05 local time.