Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle won the opening race of the 2013 Isle of Man TT Races, powered by Monster Energy, the duo taking victory in the 3-lap Sure Sidecar race by almost 20 seconds from Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott and Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance.
For quadruple World Champion Reeves it was his first TT victory, five years after making his debut, whilst Sayle became the joint most successful passenger in history, joining Rick Long on eight wins.
With ideal conditions all around the Mountain Course, it was Ben and Tom Birchall who grabbed the early initiative, leading at Glen Helen on the opening lap by 1.3s from Reeves/Sayle whilst pre-race favourites Molyneux/Farrance found themselves back in fifth although just 5s covered the leading five outfits.
By Ramsey, the Birchall's had put in two superb sectors to extend their lead over Reeves/Sayle to 5.48s but coming down the Mountain they clipped the bank at Kate's Cottage and suffered a puncture, pulling in to retire at Creg ny Baa.
That all meant that Reeves/Sayle led at the end of the first lap with a speed of 113.575mph, their gap over new second-placed crew Molyneux/Farrance almost ten seconds. Harrison/Aylott were less than two seconds behind in third with John Holden/Andy Winkle, Dougie Wright/Martin Hull and Gary Bryan/Jamie Winn completing the top six.
On the second circuit, Reeves/Sayle continued to extend their advantage as they closed in on Molyneux/Farrance on the road, latching on to their rivals as they made the Mountain climb once more. Indeed, the second lap was Reeves' best ever around the 37 and ¾-mile course and with a speed of 114.608mph, they were now leading on the road and over 20s clear of Molyneux/Farrance.
On the final lap, Reeves/Sayle had the race wrapped up, save for mechanical misfortune, and all eyes fell on the battle for second with nothing between Molyneux/Farrance and Harrison/Aylott. The gap was less than five seconds at Glen Helen but from there the Bradford driver continued to reduce the deficit and it was clear it was going to come down to a Grandstand finish.
Reeves/Sayle duly crossed the line just ahead of Molyneux/Farrance on the road but Harrison/Aylott grabbed second, to equal their best ever result, by the miniscule margin of 0.538s! Reeves/Farrance became the first reigning world champions to win a TT Race since Jock Taylor won held both in 1981.
Holden/Winkle were secure in fourth for the majority of the race whilst Wright/Hull also equalled their best ever result of fifth having caught Bryan/Winn on the road on the first lap.
Gary Knight and Dan Knight had a superb drive into seventh, recording their first ever 110mph+ lap, with local pairing Karl Bennett/Lee Cain, Roy Hanks/Kevin Perry and Frank Lelias/Charlie Richardson rounding out the top ten.
Meanwhile, history was made when Estelle Leblond became the first ever female sidecar driver to break the 100mph barrier, the French lady recording two laps in three figures, the best of which was 100.908mph. Together with passenger Sebastien Lavorel, they finished in 29th place.