Gainsborough star Nev Jones, and his racing partner Tom Bryant, made a dream start to their 2017 debut campaign in the F1 Sidecar British Championship.
In their first appearance as a regular team in the championship, Jones and Bryant, who hails from Shrewsbury, finished an excellent sixth in their opening race on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
And although race two didn’t quite live up to expectations, as they had to retire because of a clutch problem, the duo were still highly satisfied with their efforts and are now looking forward to the next round at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Bank Holiday Monday, May 1.
Jones and Bryant opened with a bang, clocking their fastest lap of the short track in free practice. They were unable to replicate it during qualifying because of brake problems, but they still managed a creditable 14th fastest on their ProperlyProtected.co.uk/Bemoto Yamaha LCR machine.
As the teams lined up for the start of the first race, a short cloudburst fell on the lower half of the circuit. But Jones and Bryant made a good start from the seventh row, taking full advantage of the uncertain conditions.
Confident on cold tyres on a damp track, they scythed through the field on the opening lap with some daring overtaking manoeuvres, moving from 14th to fifth. At Clearways on lap two, they overtook Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes for fourth place and set about closing the gap on the 2016 British champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood.
For several laps, they were second fastest on the circuit, losing ground only to the leaders, multiple world champions Tim and Tristan Reeves, and by the end of lap three, they had closed on to the back of Stevens and Charlwood. A podium position beckoned, but the track had started to dry and other teams were becoming more confident of the conditions. By lap five, the team’s power disadvantage was beginning to show as the top three pulled away.
Eventually, the nine-second advantage over the chasing pack was closed, and Jones and Bryant took the chequered flag in sixth.