Isle of Man TT Legend Ben Birchall Announces New Sidecar Passenger

Following the announcement of Tom Birchall’s retirement, Ben Birchall has announced his new passenger for the 2024 Isle of Man TT

Ben Birchall, Kevin Rousseau, 2023 Manx GP sidecar tyre test.

A new sidecar passenger has been announced for the Isle of Man TT Sidecar legend Ben Birchall, who will be partnered with Kevin Rousseau in 2024.

Rousseau has large boots to fill in 2024, as it has been with Tom Birchall (who announced his retirement at the end of last year) whom Ben won all 14 of his Sidecar TTs, and set the current lap record of over 120mph in 2023.

Rousseau has competed at the TT just once before, but he impressed on that occasion. Partnered with Tim Reeves, he lapped at almost 114mph during qualifying on his debut. It was with Reeves, too, that Rousseau has secured podiums and wins in the Sidecar World Championship. 

Speaking on the announcement of his new passenger, Ben Birchall said: “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 underway! 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.” 

The new pairing has already completed their first laps around the Mountain Course, having taken part in a tyre test for Hoosier at the Manx Grand Prix road race where they – along with Dave Molyneux, Ryan Crowe and Tim Reeves – completed several laps. Hoosier had been proposed as a replacement for long-time supplier Avon.

“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.”

Kevin Rousseau said: “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.”

The 2024 Isle of Man TT is set for the fortnight from 27 May until 8 June.

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