MOTOR SPORT: CRAIG Jones has been signed by a motor sport legend.
Next season 20-year-old Jones, from Greenbank, will race for the Foggy Petronas team in the World Superbike Championships.
For former Hartford High and Mid-Cheshire College student Jones, being snapped up by seven times world champion Carl Fogarty and riding at the highest level life - and his career - cannot get much better.
He said: 'I'm delighted and can't wait.'
Jones has been signed to ride alongside the experienced Australian Steve Martin after finishing runner-up in the British Super-sport series.
But it was a performance last season rather than this that took Fogarty's eye.
He won the final Supersport round of the 2004 season aboard a Triumph Daytona in front of Fogarty.
'He first caught my eye last year when, despite being on a bike that was slower than the others, he managed to win at Donington. It was one of the most impressive performances I have seen for a long time and I think his sideways over-taking manoeuvre was the most spectacular I have ever seen. He also comes highly recommended from a lot of people whose opinions I respect.
'I had considered Craig for this season, but felt he would benefit from another year in Supersports and but for a couple of mistakes he won have won that title.
'I wanted to put someone on the bike that is hungry and willing to learn - maybe I can see in him someone who wants to win races as badly as I did,' said Fogarty, who had a record 59 victories in his career in the series.
Fogarty added: 'He will be in a high-profile team, on a Superbike and on slick tyres as well as at new circuits, so he is being thrown in at the deep end to some extent.
'But I will be there and the whole team will be there to help him float. He is not expected to win on our bike, so that shifts the pressure from him to me - and I don't mind that. I had to work for my big chance and it will give me so much pleasure to see someone fulfil their potential with my team.
'Craig had good offers on the table for 2006, having impressed with a few rides in the World Supersport championship last season. But he wanted to come and ride for my team and that is very important for me.'
Jones added: 'I'm delighted and can't wait for this new challenge. The main attraction has to be Carl, who was one of my heroes when I started racing, and someone I aspired to emulate.
'I also rode for Jack Valentine, the FPR race team boss, for two years and know that it is a well-run team. I am excited about getting onto a superbike for the first time and I am also keen to help with the project development.
'I know quite a few of the circuits and we are planning tests at some of the others so I don't think it'll be too much of a disadvantage.
And I rode at Brno (Czech Republic) this year for the first time on a new bike and ended up in sixth position . It might be difficult to get my lap times down straight away but I do not think it will be too difficult and I am fit and ready to go.'
Jones raced to seven podium positions last season and two the year before when he was eighth in the Supersport list. He won the Steve Hislop 2003 Rider of the Year Award and in 2002 the British Superstock title with six firsts.
Meanwhile, Jones turned his hand to rides of a different kind at the Moto 1 Multi-Discipline event at Mallory Park.
The aim was to find the ultimate all-round motorcyclist with events covering motocross, running, trials riding, grass track, sidecars, cycling, mini motocross, quad bikes, crane dexterity, road racing and super moto.
Against riders from all disciplines Jones finished 14th of 26 overall and won by road races, beating World Superbike rider Francesco Chilli. Supermoto rider Christian Iddon was the winner.