MOTORCYCLING: Sleaford sidecar racer Gary picks up 10 F1 points

Sleaford sidecar racer Gary Horspole with Scottish passenger Jimmy Connell rode to a fine sixth place in the first round of the British F1 Sidecar championship at Oulton Park over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell on track at Oulton Park. Photo: Dave YeomansGary Horspole and Jimmy Connell on track at Oulton Park. Photo: Dave Yeomans
Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell on track at Oulton Park. Photo: Dave Yeomans

This year the championship is split into two different categories both run within the same race. The F1 outfits are joined on the grid by the lesser powered 600cc F2 machines and the series runs in the same format as the world championship. The main F1 riders ride in the F1 British championship and the F2 machines take part in the F2 British Cup.

The weather was abysmal at the Cheshire circuit over the weekend with snow, sleet, hail, heavy rain and high winds thrown at the riders which made conditions difficult and tyre choice a real problem.

Free practice did not go quite to plan as after only four laps Horspole slid off the track, his session over, but he did manage to get a decent time in and was ninth overall.

Qualifying took place in the wet and Horspole and Connell completed the session in 15th position to start their race on Monday from the eighth row.

The rain had abated by the time the sidecars went out to form the grid and the track was relatively dry and when the lights went out Horspole got away to a good start and was 11th at the end of the first of 12 laps.

One lap later he was up to ninth and on lap eight he passed his former passenger Rob Biggs to move into eighth place. After an outfit in front of him retired Horspole inherited seventh place which he held to the chequered flag.

But the Birchall Brothers who finished the race in fourth place were in the F2 cup and were not included in the F1 results, therefore Horspole and Connell were elevated to sixth place to pick up 10 championship points.

Gary commented: “We could have finished further up as I took the decision to go out on intermediate tyres and I wasn’t sure about the weather. It turned out to be the wrong choice as I should have used slicks which would have made a difference to my speed.”

Gary thanked sponsors Sleaford Quality Foods and Baker Plant Hire for their continued support, and Oxford Products for the supply and maintenance of HJC helmets.

The next round is at Brands Hatch on May 22 when the sidecars go back to two races per round.