With the biggest entry since the centenary TT Races in 2007, the two 3-lap Sure Sidecar races at the 2013 Isle of Man TT races, fuelled by Monster Energy, are expected to be particularly competitive this year.
After missing the event in 2011, TT legend and local hero Dave Molyneux returned in superb style last year to take a double victory and increase his tally of wins to 16 and he’ll lead the field away once more at number 1 with Patrick Farrance in the chair. The Manxman shows no signs of slowing down and will be more than confident of adding to his amazing record of success.
The duo were made to work hard for their double victory twelve months ago and 2013 will be no exception with 2011 winners John Holden and Andy Winkle going off at number two. Having secured their maiden victory two years ago, last year was one to forget and there’ll be looking to bounce back in the best possible style as they, like Molyneux, continue with Kawasaki power.
Leading the Honda challenge will be quadruple World Champion Tim Reeves who will be driving under the SMT Racing banner this year and having joined forces with Dan Sayle mid-way through practice week last year, he’ll be keen to better the second place taken in last year’s second race. With another year under their belt, Reeves and Sayle, the most successful passenger ever with 7 wins, will fancy their chances of getting the better of Molyneux and Farrance.
Moving up the order to number four this year will be Nottinghamshire brothers Ben and Tom Birchall who retain the backing and support of three times winner Klaus Klaffenbock. The higher start number is just rewards for their excellent showing last year when, despite crashing in practice, they took second and third in the two races and lapped at just under 113mph as well as scooping the PokerStars Spirit of TT Award. The 2009 World Champions will, like Reeves, be keen on adding a TT win to their CV.
Another 10 seconds back will be double podium finishers from 2011 Conrad Harrison and Mike Aylott, who will again fancy their chances of stepping onto the rostrum on their Shelbourne Honda. They took another third place in the opening three-lap encounter last year before retiring from the second and they’ll be more than capable of standing on one of the steps of the podium again.
Regular top six finisher Gary Bryan will leave the line at number 6, partnered again by the highly experienced Jamie Winn, just ahead of Dougie Wright/Martin Hull who returned to the Island in fine style last year taking a career best fifth in the second race.
Greg Lambert, whose been an ever-present at the TT since his debut in 1992, will be joined by veteran Dickie Gale on the number eight outfit whilst Rob Handock, who took superb fifth and seventh place finishes in 2012, becomes a seeded driver for the first time at number nine where he’ll be joined by new passenger Basil Bevan. Meanwhile, the last of the seeded drivers will be local man Glyn Jones.
Once again, the field is full of TT regulars, with Tony Baker/FionaBaker-Milligan, Mike Cookson/Kris Hibberd and Gordon Shand/Phil Hyde all on the entry list once more as are Gary and Dan Knight, Roy Hanks/Kevin Perry, Tony Thirkell/Nigel Barlow and Frenchman Frank Lelias who enjoyed an excellent fortnight last year with Charlie Richardson in the chair. Local pair Karl Bennett/Lee Cain will also be looking to make their mark this year as they retired in the first race last year when running sixth.
Other returnees include Tony Thirkell, John Saunders, Howard Baker, Brian Kelly, Wayne Lockey and David Atkinson as well as overseas visitors Francois Leblond, Mike Roscher, Claude Montagnier, Michael Grabmuller and Remy Guignard.
The increased entry of 62 starters this year is boosted with an impressive 13 newcomers. Leblond’s daughter Estelle makes her debut as does former passenger Darren Hope, the local man having taken three wins with Nick Crowe in the mid 2000s.
Other first timers include Simon Smith, Tom Quaye, Kevin Thornton, John Chandler and the French drivers Franck Barbier and Didier Siro, the latter competing with wife Helen.