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Chester rider Joe Francis makes his mark on the world stage

Backford teenager claimed a top 10 place on his FIM Supersport World Championship debut

Backford teenager Joe Francis in action at the FIM Supersport World Championship at Donington Park, Leicestershire(Image: Glynne Lewis)

Chester's Joe Francis was in impressive form as he claimed a top-10 place on his FIM Supersport World Championship debut at Donington Park.

The 19-year-old from Backford ran in sixth spot for much of the shortened 13-lap race at the Leicestershire track, only dropping down the order in the closing laps as his tyres started to lose grip.

Francis’ Movuno.com Halsall Racing team had gained a wildcard entry to the only British round on the calendar, and Francis arrived at the circuit determined to use the weekend for track time and to see how he fared against the world’s best.

After ending Friday’s first free practice session in fifth position, matters took a bad turn in the second when he crashed, leaving the team with a repair job and missing most of the session.

But the teenager was back on form for Saturday’s qualifying, battling through SP1 and into SP2, eventually qualifying seventh on the grid, beating a number of high profile riders and becoming the highest qualifying wildcard by some distance.

He had dropped back to 15th during the main event, after a wrong tyre choice, before oil on the track saw proceedings brought to a temporary halt.

And Francis regained his composure and changed tyres for the shortened 13-lap contest to rise through the field and claim 10th spot.

“Initially we had been recommended the hard tyre and everyone else ran the soft, and that’s what went wrong in the early stages of the race before it was flagged,” he said.

“I was happy the race was stopped when it was as it meant I was able to change it to the soft like everyone else.

“The difference was amazing, it meant I was able to run comfortably in sixth for most of the race, and I only dropped a few places at the end because the tyre went off a bit.

“I’m really happy with the result, especially considering we missed most of FP2 and had to just make the most of what we had on track yesterday.

“I came here looking to make it into SP2 and to get a top 10 and we achieved both. It’s been an awesome weekend, and I want to thank Martin (Halsall, team owner) and the team for giving me the opportunity and for giving me a great bike.”

And team owner Halsall was a delighted onlooker as Francis, who has been competing in British Supersport this season, showed his promise.

“What a fantastic weekend we’ve had, I’m really happy,” said Halsall.

“He did so well to qualify where he did, and he proved what a talented rider he is in the race. To run with the best in the world and finish in the top 10 is amazing.”

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