NEW ERA AS ROUSSEAU JOINS BIRCHALL
14-time TT race winner Ben Birchall begins a new chapter in his career having confirmed Kevin Rousseau as his new passenger for the 2024 Isle of Man TT Races, who replaces Tom Birchall after his shock retirement from the sport last month.
The Frenchman joins the Birchall Racing team for the two 3wheeling.media Sidecar Races on the back of a historic year in 2023, where brothers Ben and Tom set a new lap record of 120.645mph and continued their winning streak, taking an eleventh consecutive victory.
Whilst Tom may have hung up his leathers, the elder of the two siblings is relishing the new challenge and the new pairing are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming campaign:
Ben Birchall – “When Tom told me he was retiring and wanted to do other things, it caught me by surprise a bit and I questioned what I’d like to do and where I’d like to go, but the thought of never competing at the TT never entered my head.”
“The pace and passion is as strong as ever so I know there’s plenty more races in me. Doing it without Tom isn’t a position I’ve been in before, but once I knew he was calling it a day, there was only one person I wanted alongside me and that was Kevin, so I moved quick to get everything in place.”
“The passenger is as important as the driver at the TT, if not more so, and whilst Kevin may only have one TT under his belt, I’ve seen at close quarters how talented he is and he’s the perfect size and weight. He’s also a professional sidecar passenger with a skill set second to none and I know he’ll apply himself and do everything required to be ready come June.”
“We’ve been back over to the Island recently to drive round the course so the homework’s well and truly under way! Riding together and spending time together will ensure everything gels and we’re both upbeat and excited about the new season ahead. We know the bike is a strong package and my mindset and goals are the same as before – to do the TT to the best of my ability and be as successful as I possibly can.”
BIRCHALL AND ROUSSEAU DURING TYRE TESTING AT 2023 MGP
The new pairing have already enjoyed their first laps around the Mountain Course having completed several laps during the Manx Grand Prix where they – along with Dave Molyneux, Ryan Crowe and Tim Reeves – conducted tests for a new tyre supplier.
“The tyre tests showed me Kev’s knowledge of the Mountain Course is already right up there so I’m very excited about the new chapter in my career. He pushed me to go quicker each time we went out and we worked together really well to achieve that. Our pace was good and the data showed everything was working perfectly so it’s given us a valuable head start.”
Rousseau has just one TT to his name so far but has already impressed, lapping at almost 114mph during qualifying on his debut with Tim Reeves. The talented Frenchman has a wealth of experience at World Championship level, too, with wins and podiums secured when racing alongside Reeves.
Kevin Rousseau - “It’s a big challenge to be next to Ben given what he and Tom have achieved but I’m really excited to start it. He has lots of experience and is obviously fast! The few laps we did at the tyre test were very enjoyable and the laps were both fast and flowing so I can’t wait for qualifying to get underway.
“Everyone had told me about the TT prior to my debut in 2022 and whilst I didn’t truly know what to expect, after the newcomers lap, I was like a kid unwrapping his Christmas presents! It’s so special and whilst there’s pressure it’s also relaxed, and you can never repeat the feeling anywhere else.”
“Ben’s obviously been with Tom for a long time, but this is a new chapter for both of us. It’ll take a bit of time to build our speed up but that’s the right way to do the TT. The key is to be confident, and Tom’s been giving me a lot of advice. I can’t wait for the TT to start and to finish on the podium this year would be amazing. I’ve done that on the World stage so to do it at the TT is my next target.”