A nailbiting penultimate round ended in joy for Gainsborough’s Nev Jones and his teammate Tom Bryant as they were crowned winners of the 2016 Open Sidecar Championship run by the NG Road Racing Club.
Jones and Bryant, who comes from Shrewsbury, have been in storming form in recent weeks. And victory at the demanding South Wales circuit of Pembrey last weekend gave them a maximum points’ haul and an unassailable lead at the top of the standings.
With the pressure off, they can enjoy the final round of the championship at Thruxton next month before attending their first British Superbike Championship meeting as a wildcard entry at Brands Hatch the following week.
Jones and Bryant’s trip to Pembrey was not without its hairy moments. Saturday’s qualifying race was plain sailing for the Lincoln Refrigeration-sponsored team as they defeated the Welsh local pairing of Mike Cookson and Alun Thomas. But a post-race check revealed a mechanical fault that meant they had to sit and watch the race itself from the sidelines as their chief title rivals drove faultlessly to win and close the gap at the top.
Frantic phone-calls and an overnight trip to Donington Park to collect parts from a team taking part in the World Championship were needed for Jones and Bryant to rebuild their bike for Sunday’s action.
But thankfully, they were back on the grid for the qualifier and after taking the opening laps cautiously and staying out of trouble, they came through the field to finish second behind Cookson and Thomas to ensure a front-row position.
Another careful start saw them drop to third on the first lap, but they picked up the pace to take the lead by mid-race and pulled away for a commanding victory.