Sidecars will appear on the Mountain Course for the first time in the 100-year history of the Manx Grand Prix, but not in a racing capacity.
Four crews will take part in a series of tyre tests following manufacturing changes that will affect the three-wheel class from 2024.
ACU Events Limited, race organiser of the TT, have been working in collaboration with representatives from the sidecar class since it was announced that Avon Tyres – the brand used by the majority of crews in recent years – was ceasing production at the end of 2023 after 119 years of operation.
While the sidecar class does not operate with a single-make tyre rule, Avon has been the main brand used in the category for the last 12 years at the TT, the FIM Sidecar World Championship and other national events.
A lack of a ‘control’ tyre has meant that the onus has been on sidecar competitors to find a replacement product and, following discussions with a range of manufacturers by the leading teams, Hoosier Racing Tires has taken on development of a tyre for the class.
Dave Hagen, the TT’s technical director, commented: ‘It’s unfortunate that such a tried, tested and trusted product is no longer going to be available for the sidecars to use, but as was the case with the introduction of slick tyres for all the solo classes this year, a commercial decision has been made by a manufacturer and so we have to move on and adapt.
‘It’s more difficult in this situation as the outgoing manufacturer was the only tyre available, and so a lot of hard work has gone in to finding another brand to take on the challenge and to develop a replacement product.
‘There’s an argument to say this is the time to engage with a manufacturer and look to introduce a control tyre, but the technical team and the leading competitors are of the opinion that closing the door to other manufacturers would deter them from developing other products, meaning we could end up in a similar situation further down the line.
‘There’s no denying that it’s a big change for the class and it’s vital that the new tyres are up to the rigours of the TT Course, so we’ve worked with Gary Thompson [clerk of the course] and a number of teams on a testing plan which will take place at the MGP in preparation for TT 2024.’
Ben and Tom Birchall will be joined by Ryan and Callum Crowe, plus Tim Reeves and Dave Molyneux with their respective passengers (to be confirmed). They are scheduled to complete a total of four laps during the Manx Grand Prix period with visual, thermal and pressure inspections of the new tyres taking place during and after each lap.