DUTCH PODIUM LEAVES TEAM WD-40 ON TITLE BRINK

Team WD-40'S Joe Francis ready to go with mechanic Danny Wright looking on

Team WD-40’S Joe Francis ready to go with mechanic Danny Wright looking on

Team WD-40 are on the verge of clinching a first major championship in their inaugural year after Joe Francis returned from the only overseas meeting of the British Superbikes campaign with another podium finish.

Francis, from Backford near Chester, extended his lead at the top of the Monster Energy Motostar Moto 3 class standings after a huge team effort at Assen in Holland.

The 15-year-old claimed second spot in his class to notch another podium finish and move 36 points clear of nearest rival Tarran Mackenzie at the top of the standings.

It means just one more podium from the last two meetings – at Silverstone on October 6 or Brands Hatch a fortnight later – would bring title glory for the teenager and Team WD-40.

“It was another good result for us and we are doing what is required to defend the championship lead,” said Francis.

“The whole team worked exceptionally hard to get the bike right for the race and we were really pleased to increase our lead in the championship.

“We are in a fantastic position now and it would be brilliant if we could wrap up the championship at Silverstone and take the pressure off the final meeting of the season.

“But we are taking nothing for granted and know there is still a job to do.”

Francis began the race in tenth spot on the grid, fourth in his class, after a weekend in which the team worked tirelessly – including through the night – to solve electric and fuel problems with the bike.

That huge team effort paid dividends as a blistering start from Francis saw him quickly storm up the field.

With none of the riders ahead of him – many of whom were racing in the Dutch championship – a threat to the Francis championship lead and nearest rival Mackenzie behind him, Team WD-40 were content for the youngster to take no risks.

And a mature display from Francis helped secure a second place finish in class as he burst through the 200 point barrier in the championship.

“As long as we finished ahead of Tarran we knew we would a step closer to winning the championship and that’s what we achieved,” said a delighted Francis.

Team WD-40 team manager Brent Gladwin was full of praise of the efforts of Francis and the entire team.

“It’s been a long weekend and we have had next to no sleep,” he said.

“It was disappointing to have the problems when we did because to be so close to the Dutch riders in free practice in their own backyard was very pleasing.

“We had problems through qualifying and the lads worked exceptionally hard to get the bike out there for the race.

“Joe then rode an excellent race, doing exactly what he needed by keeping Tarran behind him.

“If we are 26 points or more clear after Silverstone we will have won the championship and that’s the aim now.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do before Silverstone but we will be ready to try and wrap the championship up.”

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