Buildbase Honda is still in contention for the Power Maxed Arenacross Tour title despite two tough nights in Belfast at rounds four and five of the 2018 championship.
Heading into Northern Ireland, opening round winner Charles Lefrancois was joint Pro series leader with his team-mate Fabien Izoird in third but a collision between the pair in their second heat on Friday sent Fabien to the Last Chance Qualifiers.
The Frenchman finished third in the LCQs, failing to make the Main Event and was disappointed when he was over-looked as promoter’s choice which would have elevated him into the points-paying final.
After narrowly missing out on bonus points with fourth in the Hot Lap competition, Charles was unhappy to come home 11th on his CRF450R in the Main Event.
Both men transferred directly to Saturday’s Main Event after solid performances in their heat races with Charles running 3-1 and Fabien carding 2-6. After a very physical final it was Fabien who led the team home in fifth, three places ahead of Charles.
With two rounds to go and the title still very much up for grabs, Charles holds third in the Pro championship – just one place ahead of Fabien.
“Belfast has not been kind to me,” said Charles. “On Friday I made contact with Fabien and he crashed which was unfortunate – I still got through to the Main Event but was not happy with my result and Saturday was not much better for me.
“It was close. I was not in a position to finish on the podium but we have two rounds left and the championship is still within reach. I will not give up.”
Fabien, champion in 2014, put a positive spin on his two nights in Northern Ireland.
“It has been a crazy weekend,” he said. “I had a good feeling on Saturday but crashed at the start of my second heat and was lucky to qualify for the Main Event where I finished fifth which I am a little bit disappointed with. I got stuck behind a few riders which maybe cost me a podium finish. I’m not happy but that is how it is.
“On Friday I made a lot of mistakes and in heat four Charles and I made a big contact and I crashed so I had to go to the head-to-head. I won my first race but in the second I hit the gate so I didn’t make it to the Main Event.
“I hoped to get through as promoter’s choice but I wasn’t picked which is a little crazy but that’s in the past. Now we have two more races and the goal is simple – to win both.”
Team boss Dave Thorpe was frustrated with the weekend’s results but remains optimistic that his men can still deliver.
“What a weekend,” he said. “There has been some incredible racing but it was very physical. I’m frustrated that Fabien – who was third in the championship at the time – didn’t make Friday’s Main Event as promoter’s choice but that’s out of my hands and he bounced back on Saturday.
“It’s been a tough two nights in Belfast but I’m really pleased with the boys, they rode their hearts out.
“It’s been typical arenacross action – very unpredictable – and it could have gone many ways. As it was things haven’t gone our way but we’re still in the hunt and we’ve got Sheffield and London still to come with double points up for grabs at the final round.”