Chester racer Joe Francis has split from the Tsingtao Racing MV Agusta squad.
The 20-year-old, from Backford, had headed to his home track of Oulton Park at the weekend in preparation for round three of the Dickies British Supersport Championship and had taken part in open practice on the Saturday.
But he did not appear in qualifying the following day or in any of the feature races on Sunday and Monday and his place in the saddle was taken by Luke Jones.
As the riders headed out to qualify on Sunday, Francis was commentating on the proceedings and revealed his shock departure from the team and hinted that he could look for a Superbike ride in the not-too-distant future.
“I’ve left the team and we’ve moved on to different things,” he said.
“I didn’t come here this weekend thinking things would work out this way but sometimes they just do.
“If I can get out of my contract then I would love to stay in the class but maybe it’s time for a Superbike, I don’t know.”
While Francis wasn’t on the 675, former Supersport rider Luke Jones, who’s out in the National Superstock 1000 class this weekend, stepped in to take the reigns of the MV for qualifying.
Tsingtao Racing team boss Dave Tyson admitted he couldn’t say much on the record, but would be grafting behind the scenes in the upcoming BSB break before the next round at Snetterton.
“I can say almost nothing at the moment. We’ve got five weeks to sort the job out.”
Francis’s star has long been in the ascendancy.
Last season he enjoyed a successful campaign in the Supersport series with the Movuno Halsall Racing Team before making the move to Tsingtao Racing this season.
Francis is a previous winner of the Aprilia Superteens and the British Moto3 Championship and as also claimed the ACU Pinhard Trophy along the way.
Chester-based Dan Nieroda meanwhile faced disappointment at the Dixies Challenge Rally when he and Stephen Robinson retired from a potential podium place in the Mini Sport Cup event with only two miles to go.
Robinson was tackling his first event using pacenotes and was keen for Nieroda’s experience to help guide him over the notorious tarmac roads of Epynt Military Ranges on the Brecon Beacons.
“Having Dan in the seat gives me confidence, we worked really well together on the last round and the final result was more than I expected,” said Robinson.
“This is still only my third rally so I’m trying to absorb all the information and advice.”
The day was spread over 11 stages and after the opening loop of four, Nieroda and Robinson found themselves fouth in class, just behind far more experienced crews.
“It isn’t an easy place to come to and be quick, especially whilst learning pacenotes.” explained Nieroda.
“Steve is listening really well to each instruction and it’s reflected in the times.”
Facing a deficit of only ten seconds to claim a podium position, the Mini crew set about pushing on the next group of stages and showed great promise.
Pulling into the final service, Nieroda said “We’ve pulled back 8 of the 10 seconds and only have two more stages to go. The rhythm in the car is positive and I’m confident of what we can do.”
Sadly for the crew, the cars gearbox expired with just two miles of the final stage to go.
Added Nieroda: “It’s important to take positives from today, Steve drove really well with no mistakes and became very comfortable listening to the pacenotes.”