A sidecar racing driver is celebrating a championship podium finish that nearly didn’t happen after a horrific hand injury put his place on the starting grid in major doubt.
North Kelsey resident Gary Bryan has been racing sidecars for more than 30 years, but faced one of the toughest challenges of his career after having three fingers cutt off in a lawnmower accident just weeks before the start of the 2018 Hyundai Construction Equipment British Sidecar Championships last April.
The driver faced a race against time to return to full fitness and, although doctors were able to reattach two of his fingers, half of his index finger had been lost permanently.
Bryan managed to get himself fit for the start of the season and, after 10 rounds of racing, Bryan and his team mate Phil Hyde - who were both sponsored by insolvency firm CVR Global, along with GBM Demolition – secured an overall third-place finish following last weekend’s championship finale at Brands Hatch.
“It was an uphill battle to be ready in time for the first race, but luckily we spoke to the right people and had lots of medicals and we had a very good race,” said Bryan, reflecting on his pre-season injury scare.
“This season has been as good as it gets – a lot of work went into it. We spent lots of time planning, sorting brakes and tyres, and tweaking the suspension before every race.
“I’ve been getting stronger and stronger and all of our practice and preparation has meant that it’s all come together in the end.
“Phil has been a massive influence on our success over the past year.
“I can’t do it without him. My life is in his hands when we’re on the track, and we’re getting faster and faster all the time.
“So much skill goes into what he does as a passenger – he has to know when to use his weight to shift the car at the right moments when we go into corners.
“It’s lucky that we get on so well and have great chemistry.
“We’ve had minimal setbacks since the season started, and we were able to limit our number of breakdowns to just one for the entire season.
“We wouldn’t be celebrating our success without our sponsorship from CVR Global and GBM Demolition- we need new tyres before every race and we constantly have to refresh the engine.
“This can be almost impossible to do without someone financially backing you.”
Bryan also spoke of how the pair held on for bronze at the series closer at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.
He said: “We got off to a really good start and we knew coming into the final day that we just needed a decent performance to stop other teams from closing the gap.
“We did have a bit of a scare after slipping at the start, but we were able to work our way back up to 13th, which gave us enough points to take overall third place in the championships.”
Up next for Bryan and Hyde is a trip to New Zealand for the Tri-Series tournament in December.