Fourteen-time Isle of Man Sidecar TT-winning passenger Tom Birchall has announced that he has retired from racing effective immediately, shocking the road racing world by splitting up what is arguably the three-wheeled class’ most successful partnership of all time.
Together with brother Ben, Tom has remarkably won every single TT race they’ve completed since 2013, with mechanical problems seeing them losing out only three times in ten seasons, culminating in becoming the first-ever outfit to lap the Mountain Course at an average speed of over 120 mph en route to two wins earlier this year.
Along the way, they’ve also racked up considerable success on circuits, too, winning four world championships and a British title, albeit with their 2023 campaign derailed by a crash in August at the Red Bull Ring that saw both brothers needing time to recover.
But well aware of the risks of the TT, the younger Birchall says that given everything they've achieved (including the incredible new lap record from this June) it’s the right time to step down - even if he’s keen to still stay involved in other ways.
“It’s not been an easy decision to make by any means,” he explained, “but it’s now 20 years since I first got in an outfit alongside Ben and it’s 10 years since we took our first TT win, something we dreamt about as kids when we used to come on family holidays to watch.
“And so having achieved what we have and having broken that 120mph barrier this year, the timing feels as right as it can do.
“The TT is the pinnacle for me and while it might only be a couple weeks of the year, it takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work all year round to get to a level that allows us to keep pushing and pushing.
“Now feels like the time to take a break from that cycle and start a new chapter in life, but Ben knows I’ll always be there in any way I can to keep the Birchall name on top.”
His brother has confirmed that he will continue to compete in 2024, with a new passenger who has yet to be named.
The elder Birchall will attempt to close in on the record for most wins held by a sidecar driver, with the Yorkshireman only three away from matching TT legend Dave Molyneux’s 17 victories.
“I can only thank him for what he’s done,” Ben Birchall said of his brother. “Racing together has been our way of life for so long now that, in a way, you take it for granted.
"It’s only now that Tom’s decided to step away that I’ve been able to appreciate what an incredible career he’s had.
“It will feel totally different and take time to get used to competing without him, but I’m still totally committed racing and so it’s the start of a new and exciting chapter.”
“It genuinely has been a journey, racing all around the world plus all the development of the bikes that people won’t see, too. None of it would have been possible without Tom. We’ve made history and to have done that with my brother has just made it even more special.”