Seven former winners in sidecar entry for June’s TT

Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle are seeded at number one for the TT's two sidecar races

Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle are seeded at number one for the TT's two sidecar races

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Almost 70 entries have been accepted for the two three-lap Sure Sidecar races at this summer’s TT.

Seven former race winners return to the Mountain Course in the line-up, with a combined total of 25 victories.

The entry also includes no fewer than 13 drivers who have already lapped at more than 110mph.

As in previous years, 17-time TT winner and outright lap record holder Dave Molyneux has the number one plate.

The Manxman reclaimed the fastest lap last year, nine years after he previously held the record, and he’s reunited with former passenger Dan Sayle this time around.

The duo last competed together in 2009 and with Sayle having eight wins of his own, they’re arguably the team to beat.

There are plenty of outfits who will challenge the Manx pair, none more so than the Birchall brothers, Ben and Tom, who start at number two.

They defeated Molyneux in 2015 with double race wins and the second fastest crew in the history of the event are well placed to run Molyneux/Sayle close in 2016.

Setting off 10 seconds back, third on the grid, is veteran John Holden who took his 12th and 13th podiums in last year’s races with Sayle in the chair.

The Lancashire race r is reunited with regular passenger Andy Winkle after he missed last year’s event with injury.

Holden, the third driver on the entry list with a 116mph lap to his name, will be looking to take his second TT win.

Tim Reeves, the driver at number four, is another competitor with one TT victory - the Kent man took the top spot in 2013.

Since then Reeves has recorded only one podium and last year was a major disappointment for the five-time World Champion with two DNFs. With Patrick Farrance on board again, he’s another potential victor.

Bradford’s Conrad Harrison, who took his ninth career podium with third in last year’s opening encounter, is at number five. The 2014 race winner has a new passenger in Dean Kilkenny.

A sixth race winner is at number six in the ever-green Ian Bell who’s now been back at the TT for two years with son Carl partnering him.

He’s edging ever closer to the form that saw him win in 2003 and take five podiums in total. With a near 113mph lap to their name in 2015, they are definite podium contenders.

Ten seconds behind them is relative newcomer Alan Founds who had a brilliant debut in 2014 and cemented his status as one of the most promising drivers in the field last year with fifth in the opening race.

He’s another driver who will have a new passenger this year with Finn Aki Aalto.

Next away at number eight is the consistent partnership of Gary Bryan and Jamie Winn. After a disappointing time in 2014, the pair were back in form in 2015 with a strong sixth place in Sure Sidecar race one, going close to a new personal best lap of the 37.73-mile circuit in the process.

Manx duo Karl Bennett and Lee Cain are at number nine and will be looking to make up for their two retirements of 2015 while at number 10 Gary Knight is the last of the seeds. The former European Champion broke the 111mph barrier for the first time 12 months ago. He too has a new passenger with Daniel Evanson, who is a newcomer to the event.

Numbers 11-20 on the grid include many of the regular top ten finishers - notably Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers (11) and Matt Dix/Shaun Parker (12) with the latter the latest crew to lap at more than 110mph.

Behind them, there’s more quality with Darren Hope/Paul Bumfrey (13), Rob Handcock (14), Steve and Matty Ramsden (15), Tony Baker/Fiona Baker-Milligan (16), Gordon Shand/Phil Hyde (17), Roy Hanks/Kevin Perry (18), John Saunders/Frank Claeys (19) and the first full European pairing of Michael Grabmuller/Manfred Weschelberger (20) from Austria.

As expected, many of the class regulars are back in the running including Greg Lambert/Kenny Cole (22), Mike Cookson/Alun Thomas (23), Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (24) and Mick Donovan/Dave Butler (27).

There’s also plenty of overseas talent with New Zealanders Colin Buckley/Robbie Shorter (21), French pairing Estelle Leblond/Sebastien Lavorel (25) and Australian Dwight Beare at 26. Beare has outright lap record holder Benjamin Binns as his passenger.

A number of last year’s newcomers return including Peter Founds, Dan Knight, Terry O’Reilly and Lionel Mansuy and there are seven debutantes in 2016 including Australians Mick Alton/Chrissie Clancy, Americans Peter Essaff/Jeff Gillard and British Championship regulars Simon Gilbert/Jed Pilmoor-Brady.

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