A massive Oulton Park crowd were treated to some thrills and spills as the MCE British Superbike Championship roared into Cheshire.
And once again the race of the day involved Chester teenager Joe Francis, who scorched around the picturesque Little Budworth circuit in a titanic battle with Scottish youngster Tarran Mackenzie on board a Redline KTM in the Monster Energy British Motostar Championship race.
Francis, the Backford Bullet, on the team WD40 Honda, hit the front at the start of the 12-lap race with Mackenzie in hot pursuit.
Within three laps the flying duo were out of sight of the rest of the field as they tested each other while taking turns to lead as they banged fairings and brushed shoulders racing at speeds in excess of 110mph.
And as they flashed across the line to start the last lap, and with the crowd on their feet, something clearly had to give and at Hislops, halfway around the 2.629 mile track, Mackenzie made his move, slipping past Francis under braking.
Francis, who is only 15, tried desperately to respond but with Mackenzie taking a defensive line at Old Hall corner he had the advantage as the pair roared up Deer Leap with Mackenzie taking the chequered flag just 0.087 seconds – less than half a wheel – ahead of a dejected Francis.
Francis, who took the fastest lap at an average speed of 91.72 mph, said: “It was a shame I couldn’t hold Tarran off but he’s a cool lad and we get on really well. I wasn’t expecting him to attack me where he did and was readying myself for a last corner attack.
“In the end I was disappointed not to come away with a win but I still lead the championship by 11 points with just five rounds left.”
The feature races, in the MCE British Superbike Championship, saw three different winners from the trio of races, one on the Saturday and two on the Sunday.
Kendal’s James Ellison took the first on his Milwaukee Yamaha ahead of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki and Alex Lowes’ Samsung Honda.
The second race saw a win for Byrne with Tyco Suzuki’s Aussie Josh Brookes in second and Japan’s Ryuichi Kiyonari’s Samsung Honda in third.
In the final race, Brookes took the flag ahead of Byrne with Lowes taking the final podium position.
Local riders enjoyed mixed fortunes with Howie Mainwaring-Smart lucky to even be on the grid for the second and third race. The Frodsham racer faced a difficult few days after discovering, on his arrival at Oulton Park, that his MH Kawasaki team had been forced to withdraw citing financial problems.
Mainwaring-Smart somehow managed to put together a last minute deal with Tsingato Beer and WKbikes Performance – and with very little preparation managed to get the Kawasaki up in the points after two solid races.
Having crashed out of race one, Mainwaring-Smart, who added the ‘Smart’ to his name after marrying girlfriend Paula Smart last year, had a terrific race two, finishing a creditable 10th.
In the third race he did even better, running as high as sixth in a hard fought battle before finally having to settle for eighth after beating John Kirkham Buildbase’s BMW Motoradd by less than a second.
Ellesmere Port’s Jenny Tinmouth was something of a celebrity in the paddock after a BBC Radio 2 interview on Friday.
And the Two Wheel Racing Honda pilot did exceptionally well racing against riders on far superior machinery to land 21st, 19th and 20th placed finishes with a best lap of 95.40mph.