MOTORSPORT: Sleaford’s sidecar racer ends season in seventh

Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell in action at Brands Hatch. Photo: Dave Yeomans
Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell in action at Brands Hatch. Photo: Dave Yeomans

Sleaford racer Gary Horspole put in two strong finishes at the weekend to secure seventh place overall in the British F1 Sidecar Championship.

Gary and his Scottish passenger Jimmy Connell were competing in the championship finale at Brands Hatch on Saturday and rode well in the changeable weather conditions.

Free practice was run in the wet on Friday but by the time the sidecars went out for qualifying the rain had stopped. However, the track was still damp and slippery, making progress very difficult. Gary and Jimmy completed the session in 20th place to begin their first race from the 10th row of a large grid full of riders, but the race was delayed and eventually reduced from 10 to just six laps.

As they finally got away, Gary and Jimmy found themselves down in 22nd place on the first lap. Again the track was damp and slippery but, although the pace was slower than usual, Gary soon began to make progress and when the pair crossed the finish line at the end of the six laps they were holding 13th place and picked up a further three championship points.

Starting the second race from the seventh row, the duo got away to a better start and were determined to take advantage of the double points on offer in the final race of the 2015 season. They completed the first lap in 11th place before making their move forward to cross the finish line at the end of the 10 lap affair in a fine eighth position.

Gary said: “We have had a good season this year and substantially improved our position in the rider standings. I have to thank Jimmy for his support throughout the season; he has proved to be a very competitive passenger whose dedication has enabled us to secure some good results, especially as we crashed during qualifying for the first round at Donington, resulting in Jimmy damaging his shoulder.

“Despite the injury, he was soon back in action and bravely returned to the championship, although still in considerable pain.

“Thanks also go to all our sponsors and supporters, Sleaford Quality Foods and Baker Plant Hire, plus Oxford Products for the supply of our HJC helmets that have protected us throughout the season.”

The strong set of results consolidated Gary and Jimmy’s seventh place in the rider standings with a total of 147 points, which was a vast improvement on this time last year when they were 11th.