The summer sunshine delivered more than just sunglasses and smiles for Team WD-40 as young racer Joe Francis claimed his first race win of the season.
The 15-year-old, from Backford near Chester, produced a stunning ride in the Monster Energy Motostar race at Oulton Park to claim his first win of 2013 and close the gap to current championship leader Tarran McKenzie to just five points.
Indeed such is the intensity of the rivalry between Joe and Tarran, that the two battled for the lead in the closing stages of the race, before Joe pulled out a fantastic overtake on the last lap and held on for victory by a mere 0.055 seconds.
This was the first victory of the season for Team WD-40 and with Joe’s team–mates, Jon Railton and Tommy Aquino in the National Superstock 1000 riders continuing to improve, it probably won’t be the last.
“Oulton Park is my home track, so to win here on a packed day in front of many family and friends is extra special,” said Joe.
“The fact I was able to perform the final overtaking manoeuvre on the last lap has given me a real boost and I’m now focusing all my efforts on the next race and continuing my challenge for the championship title.
“This victory has been down to a team effort that involves my family and everyone associated with Team WD-40 and GR Motosport.”
The race itself turned into one of the best spectacles of the British Superbike season as four bikes swapped places up to five times a lap, before Joe emerged with the win.
Such was the crowd excitement that Joe was mobbed by fans at Team WD-40’s team base after the race, with many having their picture taken with the youngster.
Joe added: “I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came to congratulate me after the race; it was very humbling to think people go out of their way to do that.
“I just want to win races and if I can entertain the crowds at the same time then I’ll be very happy.”
In Superstock 1000, Tommy qualified 16th and Jon 29th on the grid, and both riders progressed up the field during the race as they tried out new set-ups on the bikes.
Jon climbed up the field to finish in 24th place as he continued to improve his pace throughout the weekend and he’s confident of continuing his progress.
“We tried different set-ups throughout event and they worked as we got more pace out of the bike all weekend,” said Jon.
“The new tyre brought in for this season has meant the set-up I used on the bike last year doesn’t deliver enough pace, so I’ve been trying new ones to give me the pace I know the bike is capable of.
“I’m taking many positives from the weekend as our times improved and we made up some good places during the race.
“Now I need to test a couple of new set-ups, particularly around the suspension, and hopefully be further up the field at one of my favourite race tracks, Donington Park, next time out.
“As a team we’re improving things all the time and the atmosphere around the garage all weekend has been fantastic, particularly so when my team mate Joe won his race.
“It spurs all of us on to try and achieve even greater things as the season progresses.”
Tommy had only ridden about 40 laps on the Oulton Park circuit before, so he was giving away a great deal of knowledge and experience of the track to nearly all the other riders. His 14th place finish and more points for the championship made his ride even more impressive.
He said: “I’m pleased that I got some championship points, but I was frustrated not to make any more places during the race.
“Team WD-40’s manager, Brent Gladwin, keeps reminding me that I’m not only competing in a new championship, but I have to learn every race track that I’m currently going to.
“It’s a steep learning curve and one I’m enjoying, although I’m desperate to get in to the top ten and continue my progress up the championship table.”
Team WD-40’s manager, Brent, said: “I’m very proud of all three riders and delighted with the form they showed throughout the weekend.
“Joe’s victory was simply brilliant and it is something the whole team can take pride in. It could be the catalyst we need to get all bikes racing for podium places.
“He may only be 15-years-old, but Joe is proving himself as a rider who can achieve even greater things. We hope he continues his form throughout the season.
“Jon and Tommy are competing in probably the most competitive race series in the UK, so their performances this season have been very good.
“Both are trying new things with their bikes and I’m sure they’ll be terrorising the top ten before long.
“Overall Oulton Park was a fantastic weekend and something everyone associated with the team can be pleased with.”
David Whittome, of team sponsors WD-40 Specialist Motorbike, said: “Joe thoroughly deserves the praise given to him after such a fantastic win. Everyone at WD-40 Company is very proud of his achievement at Oulton Park.
“We’re also delighted at the continued progress of Jon and Tommy, and are excited about where Team WD-40 will finish at the end of the season.”