After assisting French rider Eric Lenser at the 2014 Manx Grand Prix, Continental backed Darvill Racing agreed for him to make his Southern 100 debut on board their 650 MiniTwin.
However, due to personal circumstances, Eric had to cancel last minute. Step in Chris Foster, who, apart from his 20 or so laps in MotoE late in the 2014 season for the team, hasn’t been on a bike in over a year.
Surprised by the call, but also excited to take up a new challenge Chris headed for the team base on the Isle of Man for his first road race since 2009, on a circuit he’d never been around.
With heavy rains and strong winds on the island, the Southern 100 club had a job on their hands when it came to fitting in the full schedule, including the newcomers. Ordinarily, newcomers would get two sighting laps prior to practice, and a further two prior to qualifying, but the conditions saw this go right out of the window. With two somewhat sedate sighting laps in very wet conditions, Chris had to get withing 120% of the top qualifying time despite the lack of practice and a 30bhp deficit on the lead bikes. Another problem, Continental don’t make a wet tyre to fit the Darvill MiniTwin, so he had to run on dry ContiRaceAttack Comp tyres. You can climb on board with Chris and see the conditions for yourself below:
“As you can see the conditions were awful but I was pretty confident in the Continental Race Attacks and got stuck in learning the circuit. I was pretty relieved to get round in one piece but felt a bit more confident in which way the track went and actually really enjoyed it. I can’t say enough about how good those dry tyres are in the wet, they are absolutely brilliant!
To my surprise we qualified! I think the wet conditions worked to our advantage in the end but according to some of the spectators Ivan Lintin and James Cowton’s times weren’t an awful lot slower than their dry times! With that in mind we looked forward to the next day’s race which was forecast to be dry and warm.”
After qualifying, conditions picked up for race day, which was dry and sunny. With Chris being called up last minute, and so little time to prepare, the bike had been set up for another rider, and was a little over sprung for Chris, who was 23 kilos lighter. The first race saw the team fighting a much expected uphill battle against the more powerful Supertwins, but the bike also seemed to be giving away some speed to some of the other MiniTwins on the grid. However, Chris was getting faster all the time, and the last lap saw him have a great battle with another newcomer to the circuit. Race two saw the rose-joint on the gear linkage begin to jam, and just as Chris rolled into the pit lane at the end of lap one in order to retire, he gave the linkage a good hard kick, and it loosened again. Chris was able to complete the race, although with his times down on race one, the linkage was clearly having an effect on the performance of the bike, but the opportunity to learn the circuit was more than welcome. You can see some of the action from race one below.
“All-in a really enjoyable few days racing and a welcome surprise to the start of my season. I’m really looking forward to the start of the MotoE season next month where we’ll be campaigning on an I2V Sponsored eBike for Darvill Racing who have a satellite deal with Zongshen and we are off to Nürburgring!”
Next stop, Germany!
Find out more about the ContiRaceAttack Comp here.