Cossar Claims it! BRITISH SIDECAR SPEEDWAY CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE – Race Report & Results
The magnificent National Speedway Stadium in Manchester provided the perfect backdrop for the finale of the British Sidecar Speedway Championships for 2017, hosted by ACU Events. On possibly the largest circuit in the country, the big 1000cc sidecars were sure to revel in the conditions that such a large track would bring. The title itself was duly won by overwhelming favourites Mark Cossar and Carl Blyth, though their journey to the title was far from smooth sailing.
Report and Result Images by Gareth Bemister
Cossar and Blyth kicked off their evening with an excellent win in front of a healthy sized crowd, with close rivals Paul Whitelam/Terry Saunters, Mick Cave/Bradley Steer and Tris Winterburn/Billy Winterburn all picking up wins of their own in a predictable opening set of legs. However, leg two saw Tris/Billy, Whitelam/Saunters and Cossar/Blyth all clashing in a tremendous 4 lap battle. Coming from the outside, Cossar/Blyth found themselves third exiting the second bend and within two laps had overcome the Winterburn crew. However, try as they might, they couldn’t come on terms with Whitelam/Saunters, who stormed away to claim their second of four heat wins, which saw them enter the final unbeaten.
Another chink in the seemingly indomitable Cossar armour occured in their final heat when the machine failed to leave the line, leaving their rivals to score valuable points and relegate them to the sudden-death repercharge.
A fine win for Matthew Fumarola/Gareth Williams looked to be setting them up for a good night, only to blow the Exup motor to bits in their third ride.
Will Offen/Sam Black looked much improved, leading their opening heat only to stop on the back straight due to a puncture. They followed up with a win later in the night, but almost certainly would have been in the repercharge but for the puncture.
Will Penfold/ Ricky Pay continued their consistent form to score 6 points throughout the night, always finding themselves in the mix. Tom Cossar paired with Sam Fumarola (who has done every round with a different driver this season) and used his Grasstrack bike to great effect, securing himself a repercharge spot with 7 points. Joe Mogg/Jake Cutler had their best performance on the shale this season, winning their final heat and taking the final spot on countback for the repercharge.The win proved all-important, being the factor which saw them get the nod over Penfold/Pay anMick Stace/Kizz Ivy, who’d all scored 6. Stace/Ivy had had a very solid night, once again showing strong improvements throughout the season.
The Repercharge placed plenty of pressure on Cossar/Blyth, who were no doubt the fastest crew at the circuit but had been hampered with bad luck. They had to win. But with the ominous Tris/Billy Winterburn outfit taking the inside gate, it was far from clear-cut.
As it was, Cossar/Blyth put in a simply unstoppable race. They charged out wide and into the dirt and set a stunning track record on their way to qualifying for the final.
In the final itself, Cossar/Blyth were left with the outside gate, but they used it to their advantage. They allowed the other crews to squabble on the inside and charged around the whole back, establishing a healthy lead by bend 3. Another fine win for Cossar/Blyth, making it 4 out of 4 and the British Sidecar Speedway Championship crown in the process. Mick Cave and Bradley Steer were never too far away from Cossar/Blyth, taking second place and second overall in the series. Whitelam/Saunters finished 3rd, being led for the first time all evening. Rod Winterburn/Ryan Wharton, who had won two races of their own and been in excellent form, had to settle for 4th.
A strong 500cc sidecar lineup provided support for the event, putting on some fantastic racing Mitchel Godden/Paul Smith made no mistakes in winning all four of their heats, fending off hard charges from Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg.
The Manchester venue was a real treat for the sidecar riders who put on a great show. Now we hope that a positive rebirth of sidecar speedway can be followed up next season. There are plenty of good noises coming from speedway promotors and ACU events already about next season, where sidecar speedway stands a chance of once again rising to the heights that were seen around the turn of the century.
Final Championship Standings