TT's greatest races: Sidecar TT (week 5)

MCN Greatest TT Races

With the Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Lightweight races complete, MCN’s search for the Greatest TT races of the last 25 year continues and this week it’s the turn of the Sidecars.

It’s a class that has seen ever increasing levels of technology, which in turn has seen speeds continue to increase dramatically, bolstered by the professionalism and commitment of the top teams.

Our panel of experts are made up of the greatest living TT racer John McGuinness, esteemed team boss Clive Padgett, TT Businness Development Manager Paul Phillips, renowned TT photographer Stephen Davison, TT journalists and statistician Phil Wain along with the 2019 Senior TT winner Dean Harrison.

Then it’s your turn to get involved as you’ll be able to vote on what you think is the greatest Supersport TT of the last 25 years with the winning race being featured in detail in MCN’s special TT supplement on 24 June.

MCN readers who vote will be in the running to win an official IOM TT backpack.

Win this Official TT Backpack!

John McGuinness – 23 time TT winner

2018 Sidecar RACE 2

“Nearly 120mph lap on a 600cc sidecar is incredible”

Joey Dunlop 1998 Lightweight TT

It has to be the Birchall’s win in the 2018 race. They won it easily but it was the fact they nearly did a 120mph lap. For me that’s like Michael Dunlop doing 129mph on a Supersport bike or over 121mph on an electric bike, it doesn’t get the credit it deserves but when you actually stop and think about it, it’s utterly incredible.

You’ve got a 600 with two people onboard which is being absolutely thrashed (sidecars are at 100% throttle for up to 65% of the lap - Ed)

The Birchall’s set-up is absolutely immaculate, the outfit is immaculate, the two of them are athletes who train very hard, they can do the mind games with their rivals, and they are also great with the fans and the kids. They are an incredible combination and where the other teams tend to swap their passengers quite often the Birchalls are solid – the link is so strong, it’s like they’re still connected by the same umbilical chord. They know what each other are doing.

Sidecars have a lot a grip but unlike on a bike where you can really thread the needle and straight line a lot of the corners – you can’t do that on an outfit so nearly do 120mph is mind blowing.

Stephen Davison – Photographer and Journalist

2005 Sidecar RACE two

“They made history with three laps in under an hour”

Bruce Anstey's 120mph lap on a 250

The second Sidecar TT of 2005 stands out because of the sheer persistence and ultimate domination of Dave Molyneux, the TT’s greatest ever sidecar racer. Nothing went right for Moly and passenger Dan Sayle during practice week on the Honda engined DMR outfit he had designed and built himself. With just the Friday night session left they had failed to qualify for Saturday’s opening race because of numerous breakdowns.

“The pressure was really on but we went out on the Friday night and did two laps under 20 minutes, the first time that had ever been done.” Molyneux said.

The gremlins struck again though, forcing Moly’s retirement from the first race as he was cruising home with a 45 second lead.

Undeterred the Manx pair blitzed the second race, setting a new 116mph as they completed all three laps in under 20 minutes to finish a three wheeled, three lapper in under an hour for the first time in history.

Clive Padgett – Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles 

2010 Sidecar RACE 2

“Klaffi clawed back a 10s deficit to win by a second”

2019 Michael Dunlop's win in Lightweight TT

It has to be the 2010 race two for me. It was Klaffi’s (Klaus Klaffenboch) second win of the week which was pretty special in itself, but it was also the way that he won it. At the end of the first lap he was over eight seconds behind John Holden and then coming into the final lap he’d dropped even further behind and was 10.15 seconds off. But on that final lap he clawed it all back and he took the win by 1.12 seconds – which is one of the closest ever sidecar finishes. He did over 114mph lap, which at that time was simply astonishing.
It was an exciting race and for us personally it meant a lot because we were heavily involved with Klaffi that year and he had our sticker on his outfit, so it meant that we didn’t just win five in a week with Hutchy that year – we actually won seven!

Paul Phillips – TT Business Development Manager

2015 Sidecar RACE 2

“The moment the baton was handed over”

Phillip McCallen at 1997 Lightweight TT

I remember this not only because it was a good race, but because it felt like a real poignant moment where the baton was handed over. Coming into the TT the Birchall brothers had already won a TT, but 2015 was the year where they really started their dominance. They’d won the first race quite convincingly and in the second one they led from start to finish and set a new lap record. But what made it special was Dave Molyneux’s performance. He had a new passenger that year Ben Binns and they’d made a slow start, but on the final lap he fought back incredibly and although he couldn’t beat the Birchall’s he set bettered the lap record they’ just set. It was 116.785mph and that was the first time Molyneux had held the lap record since 2006. He’s had an incredible career.

Phil Wain – TT journalist

1997 Sidecar RACE A

“A maiden win 31 years after making his debut”

Ivan Lintin at 2015 Lightweight TT

It was a race full of drama as the leaders continually fell by the wayside! Pre-race favourite Rob Fisher was leading by more than 25s only for his engine to expire. Ian Bell inherited the lead but he went out with a puncture and this handed the advantage to Greg Lambert. However, luck deserted him too as he retired at Barregarrow on the final lap.
That meant the second half of the last lap was a battle royale between neighbours Roy Hanks/Phillip Biggs and Vince Biggs/Jamie Biggs, the latter leading by 4s as they rounded Ramsey Hairpin for the final time.
However, Hanks had a better run over the Mountain and with Biggs’ outfit losing oil, he not only got the verdict by a slender 2.2s but also clinched a dream, maiden TT win, 31 years after making his debut on the Mountain Course!

Dean Harrison – Senior TT winner

1990 Sidecar RACE B

“100mph lap on a TZ350 with 75bhp”

Milky Quayle at 2002 Lightweight 400

The race that does it for me is 1990, which I know is technically too old, but hear me out! You have to understand that in 1990 the track was slower because a lot of corners were tighter. There was a sidecar driver Dave Saville and his passenger Nick Roche and on board a TZ350 averaged 100.97mph. The track would have been at least 2mph slower back then on a sidecar with two people on a TZ350 which probably had about 75bhp and as much torque as a wet fart. Now that to me is some achievement. He won both races that year. He was also a good solo rider, winning the Manx, but unfortunately he ended up have a big crash at Creg-ny-baa and got paralysed from the neck down.

The prize!

When you vote, you’ll be entered into a free prize draw to win one of three official Isle of Man TT backpacks.

Win this Official TT Backpack!

These sturdy backpacks are the ideal kit for your biking days out, whether you’re riding yourself or need to carry your supplies for a day of watching the professionals battle it out on the track. This official Isle of Man TT Backpack in black and red with reflective silver panels featuring the official Isle of Man TT logo does just the job.

See the full range of Official Isle of Man TT Merchandise visit – orders are processed with an immediate effect and worldwide delivery is available.

How to enter

Simply select your choice for the greatest Sidecar TT race, enter your details and submit your vote to be entered into the prize draw. Good luck!

T&Cs: The prize draw closes at midnight May 26, 2020. This competition is open to British Isles residents aged 16 and over. There are three prizes each consisting of one official Isle of Man TT backpack (19BP). The winners will be the first three names drawn at random from all valid entries after the closing date and notified by email and have 30 to respond before an alternative winner is chosen. This prize may be offered in a limited number of other promotions. No purchase is necessary. Full terms and conditions can be here.

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff