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[Image: halsallracinghdr.jpg]

Joe Francis battled through the pain to scorch to two top 10 finishes as he and the Halsall Racing Team returned to finish the Dickies British Supersport Championship season at Brands Hatch.

The 19-year-old from Cheshire took a seventh and an eighth as he made his racing comeback after fracturing his L1 vertebrae in a crash at Cadwell Park in August.

Despite the pain, the teenager managed to qualify fourth for Saturday’s Sprint race. He got a steady start before dropping back to seventh in class at the back of an eight rider train.

He managed to hold his position all the way to the chequered flag, crossing the line eighth overall and seventh in class. He also set the second fastest time overall, which gave him a front row start for Sunday’s feature race.

Francis knew 18 laps of the Brands Hatch GP circuit was going to be hard work, and admitted even before the race began he thought he may struggle.

Once again he got a good start, holding his position and then taking the lead on the second lap. But he was powerless to stop the rest of the pack catching, and despite pushing as hard as he could, eventually began to slip back.

He dropped back to eighth, and from there was able to hold the spot all the way to the finish line to take his second top 10 of the weekend.

[Image: jopefrancisbrands.jpg]

“I’m sore, I’m really sore now but I’m happy with what we have achieved here this weekend,” he said. “If anyone had told me before today that I’d be leading a race this weekend I wouldn’t have believed them.

“At the start of the races I was able to run much quicker times but I found that as the races wore on it just got really hard. I did what I could and the team have built me a great bike. I think two top 10s are a good result, all things considering.

“It’s been an up and down season but the team has been brilliant. We’ve had a few problems here and there but we’ve worked well together. It all came together just two weeks before the season began, and I think we’ve done okay. I just want to thank Martin for the opportunity and the team for everything they’ve done for me.”

Team owner Martin Halsall was impressed with Joe’s performance.

“He’s done really well this weekend, bearing in mind what he has been through,” he said. “He’s still very sore and just getting off the bike after the race was a big effort for him.

“He got a great start in that second race and once again showed what he can do. We’ve always known Joe is a great rider, and coming back from injury in the way he has just proved what a fighter he is.

“We said from the moment he had his crash that if he wanted to come back for Brands that we’d be ready for him, and he’s done everyone proud.

“It’s been a hard season but I’m really pleased that we put Joe on our bike. He’s a fantastic rider and he’s a great guy. We’ve loved having him and while we may not have had all the results we wanted or deserved, I’m proud of the job everyone has done.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the guys in the team, they’ve all worked really well together and I’m proud of what we have achieved. Now we go away and start making our plans for 2018 – and hopefully we’ll have something to announce soon.”

Dickies British Supersport Championship Sprint race top 10:

1. Alastair Seeley (M2 class, does not score points)
2. Andrew Irwin
3. Ben Currie
4. David Allingham
5. Jack Kennedy
6. Joe Collier
7. Jamie Perrin
8. Joe Francis (seventh in class)
9. Ross Twyman
10. Eemeli Lahti

Dickies British Supersport Championship Feature race top 10:

1. Jack Kennedy
2. David Allingham
3. Andrew Irwin
4. Ben Currie
5. Keith Farmer
6. Joe Collier
7. Ross Twyman
8. Joe Francis
9. Fraser Rogers
10. Tom Ward
18-10-2017, 12:52 PM
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