Twenty-nine hours of non-stop driving is not exactly an ideal way to prepare for the final round of your season, but that’s what Chris Foster of Darvill Racing had to do in order to get onto the grid at Portimao for the final two races of the MotoE 2015 championship.
With only a week between the penultimate round at Pembrey and the Portuguese finale, the team had very little time to get their house in order, and with limited resources, a road trip all the way down to the Algarve was the only option to make the final.
Riding the less powerful satellite factory Zongshen electric bike, the team have been consistent all season, with several visits to the podium, despite the lower specs of their machine when compared with the various factory bikes on the grid.
Portimao is a fantastic, undulating circuit – and the lack of performance was clearly evident during qualifying on Saturday, and the ensuing sprint race which allows teams to turn the performance up and forget about battery life. Chris was only able to bring the bike back on 5th position.
Deciding to take things into their own hands on the Saturday night, the team decided to download the control software and make a few adjustments of their own to the bike, without the help of the factory Zongshen technicians.
On the final day of the season Chris needed to finish ahead of Chun Kay Kwok on his factory Zongshen to hold on to 2nd place in the championship behind Daley Mathison on the University of Nottingham bike. The signs were good as a one-off lap saw Chris knock 4 seconds off his best time, a new set of ContiRaceAttack Slick tyres also helping his cause.
On the first lap of the final race, Chris battled it out with both of the factory Zongshen bikes, the changes clearly helping him keep pace with the more powerful machines. A familiar pattern all season has seen the two red machines pull away in later laps as power fades, but this time Chris was actually pulling away from them! If only they had been able to make these changes earlier in the season!
Later on in the race, the need to manage the battery kicked in, and with Chun Kay Kwok slashing his personal best by over a second on the final lap, it was a photo finish.
In the end Chris lost out on the line, but was still able to take 3rd position in the championship, ahead of factory machines from several manufacturers including the other, bigger Zongshen.
The University of Nottingham team may have blown away the competition in 2015, setting new standards for electric race bikes, but Darvill Racing were able to take this under-powered satellite bike and take it to within a whisker of 2nd place in the championship, finishing ahead of several other factory teams and riders.
Congratulations to Team Principal Alex Aitchison, rider Chris Foster and everyone else at Darvill Racing on their superb achievement!
We look forward to seeing them back in action in the series in 2016 if all goes well!
Find out more about the ContiRaceAttack Slick here.