On a dull and overcast day at Queensway Meadows, Newport, John Halsey and Jason Glenie completed an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the British Open Sidecar Speedway Championship on Sunday October 14th – though they were not able to repeat the unbeaten performances of 1999 and 2000.
The top 16 UK outfits took part in an event staged for the first time at Newport in a format that gave each rider 5 qualifying heats with the top 8 moving into semi finals and ultimately the top 4 into a winner takes all final. Halsey was beaten in the first heat of the day by Ivor Matthews /Andi Wilson, but then produced a faultless performance to win each of his other races – though he rode his luck in a later heat when Gary Jackson/Carl Pugh lost a chain whilst heading the Halsey/Glenie duo.
The final was contested between Halsey, Matthews, SuperCup Champions Craig Cheatham/Clive Reynolds and Rob Wilson/Tony Miles. From the inside gate Halsey immediately took to the front whilst a ‘battle royal’ was fought behind him between Matthews and Cheatham. After 2 laps Matthews broke free of that battle but could make no impression on the reigning champions who were clearly in no mood to relinquish their title. Rob Wilson finished in an uncharacteristic 4th place, though was hindered by being forced to start off the unfancied outside gate position.
Unluckiest rider of the day was probably Gary Jackson who set a new track record in the heats, but lost points due to the chain breakage and then could only manage 3rd in a heat when beaten by Matthews and north of England champions Paul Bickley and Paul Silvera. Despite winning his semi final the points lost in the heats were enough to prevent the Chester crew from making the main final. Another crew going particularly well on the day were Richard Moore/Rob Winspear on their V twin Honda. They in fact caught and passed Rob Wilson in their semi final but had just not scored enough points in their qualifying heats to make the final.
All riders were unanimous in their praise of the Newport track promoter Tim Stone for the track conditions that prevailed throughout the 23 race programme. Regular grading along with a track prepared a little deeper than for the solo’s ensured that there was a safe and consistent race surface from first to last races.
Despite a poor crowd, probably kept away by poor weather and a Newport rider’s Testimonial meeting later in the day, meeting promoters Bailey Motorsports were pleased with the way the day passed smoothly and without major incident. John Halsey and Jason Glenie taking their third British Open title Final Result 1. John Halsey/Jason Glenie Yamaha 2. Ivor Matthews/Andi Wilson Phoenix Yamaha 3. Craig Cheatham/Clive Reynolds Yamaha 4. Rob Wilson/Tony Miles Steer Yamaha First Semi Final 1. John Halsey 2. Richard Moore 3. Rob Wilson 4. Paul Bickley Second Semi Final 1. Gary Jackson 2. Ivor Matthews 3. Symon Wall 4. Craig Cheatham Heat Qualifying Points John Halsey 14 Ivor Matthews 13 Rob Wilson 12 Craig Cheatham 12 Paul Bickley 11 Gary Jackson 9 Richard Moore 9 Symon Wall 8 Paul Whitelam 5 Mick Turrell 5 Roger Wynn 5 Duncan Tolhurst 4 Mick Cave 4 John Hiscock 4 Richard Thomas 2 Joe Mogg 0