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Battered Tom Bryant keen to get back on track

By James Driver-Fisher | Grassroots | Published:

Battered and bruised but still raring to go, sidecar passenger Tom Bryant is determined to be race ready as soon possible – despite suffering a huge crash at Cadwell Park.

Shrewsbury-based Hannafin Racing passenger Bryant and driver Archer had been in good form at Cadwell prior to the crash. Picture: Jenny Triker Wells

After jumping off the bike while hurtling towards a metal fence, travelling close to 100mph, Bryant’s list of injuries include a broken vertebrae, whip lash, broken jaw, shattered teeth, swollen feet and knees, and various bumps and scuffs.

But racers are a different breed of sportsmen and women – which was typified by the fact the 28-year-old, from Shrewsbury, was originally aiming to be back at Knockhill in Scotland, for round five of British Sidecar championship this weekend – even if it meant just supporting his fellow competitors.

Hannafin Racing driver Rupert Archer, 48, also from Shrewsbury, suffered concussion and some minor injuries too after the sidecar got out of shape during a particularly dangerous section of the Lincolnshire last month.

The team had looked on course for a top-five finish in the British championships, which had been their aim before the accident struck.

And despite the sidecar having been written off, and with Bryant still recovering from his injuries, the team remains determined to do everything they can be back at the front end as soon as physically possible.

“I can’t really say too much about what happened in the crash – because I can’t remember any of it,” said Bryant, who had been recovering in a Grimsby hospital before moving to Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, in Gobowen, where he underwent back surgery on Tuesday.

“We had already come through the section of circuit that includes the mountain and suddenly the bike got out of shape.

“We think it might have been a mechanical fault but we’re not sure at the moment.

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“Through that section you’re doing about 80-100mph and you’re only about eight feet away from the metal fence.

“I decided to jump ship when we lost control because I didn’t fancy staying on the bike as it went into the barrier.

“I took my chances and hit the fence. Next thing I knew I was in a bed, naked, surrounded by all these medical people in a hospital. They had to cut my leathers off me.

“I was left with a broken vertebrae, whip lash, broken jaw, shattered teeth, swollen feet and knees, and various bumps, scuffs and bruises – but it could have been far worse.

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“The race took place on the Sunday and that was only because Saturday’s race had also be red-flagged because of another incident.

“It’s still one of my favourite circuits but it’s dangerous because it’s so fast and narrow.”

Bryant said another problem facing the Shrewsbury-based Hannafin Racing team was their brand new sidecar – a state-of-the-art German Adolf RS1 Chassis – had been written off in the crash as well.

And that, coupled with rule changes that come into force next year in the British championships, has left them with plenty to think about for the rest of the season and into next year.

“The bike is completely written off. It was brand new and it’s going to cost tens of thousands of to fix, so it’s not a cheap repair,” said Bryant.

“With the recent rule changes to the British championship as well, which means only 600cc machines can be ridden in the series from next year, the plan will now be to build a bike to compete in the World Sidecar Championships for 2019.

“But as soon as I can I will be out on it this season to gain some valuable experience because it will help us set up data ahead of next season.

“We’ll probably competing in a few of the British championship rounds as a wildcard to gain some experience. We were on target for a top-five finish, so everything was going to plan until the crash, but I want to be back racing as soon as possible.

“I was banned for racing for 10 days and I can’t walk properly at the moment but after seeing the neurosurgeon, if he gives me the all clear, I’ll be back out there again.

“I was hoping to be at Knockhill this weekend to support the other sidecar teams but it will probably be too early.

“I would like to thank all the circuit marshals and medical staff that have assisted me so far and are continuing to do so in my recovery.”

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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