Mixed fortunes that included a win and a crash added up to a dramatic weekend for Buxton motorcycle racer Chis Kent in the opening round of a new season.
Competing in the British Motor Cycle Racing Club (BMCRC) MZ250 Championship, Kent roared to victory by the narrowest of margins, 0.1 of a second, in the second of four races at the famous Brands Hatch circuit.
But disaster struck in race three the following morning when he was severely winded after being thrown off his bike and into the barriers.
Kent said: “The results were mixed over the weekend but, on a positive note, I showed good speed and tactics and I am now looking forward to the next round, which is at Silverstone on April 7 and 8.”
Kent, who was runner-up in last season’s championship, was keen to make an impression from the start and after a busy and very wet qualifying session on the Saturday morning, he took pole position thanks to some clever manoeuvring that gave himself two clear laps at the end of the session.
Preparations for the first race were complicated by a drying track and the threat of rain clouds. Tyre choice became the hot topic and Kent went with slicks, but it soon started to rain, forcing him to race carefully and maintain sixth position after five riders had pulled away.
The weather was dry for the second race, and Kent started well, soon moving into second spot behind triple former champion Mark Taylor, who has returned to the championship.
The next eight laps saw Kent fight to close the gap on Taylor and by the start of the final lap, he was just one second in arrears. A thrilling finish saw him set the fastesp lap of the weekend, equalling his best-ever lap-time, and he used the slipstream from the bike in front to pass Taylor after exiting the final corner.
Rain returned for race three and everyone chose wet tyres. Again starting from pole, Kent got away well and led by the second lap. Come the sixth lap, only Taylor was able to keep up with Kent’s pace, but then the Buxton man’s rear tyre slipped away on the damp track, causing a classic ‘highside’.
Thanks to lightning reactions, Kent was able to prevent the initial crash, but as he ran wide into the gravel, the bike dug in and threw him off.
Thankfully, he was not seriously injured and medical staff declared him fit for the fourth and final race. However, the weather intervened again, and the clerk of the course abandoned the meeting before the race could start.
All the ups and downs left Kent in fourth position in the championship going into round two.