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Time to Start of 2024
Time for the race came very soon after and, again, Chris was given the instruction to ride well within the limits as nothing more than a finish was expected of him. Placed at the very back of the grid the little Metrakit ("shouldn't be allowed here, it'll only get in the way" had been one of the many pre-race comments) looked to have a very uphill climb to be anything other than an also ran. It seems Chris didn't think the same way; off the line looking as though he had been riding the bike forever, he was mid field as they approached the first corner and fourth as they came out!
Despite Darley Moor being a fast circuit more suited to the 125cc Aprilia machines Chris held that place to the end, well ahead of the other 125s and JRA 80 machines. In the following three races that day Chris managed two more fourth places and sixth in the wet last race, his first on a geared bike in the rain, and riding on tyres mainly intended for a dry track.
By the end of the season Chris had ridden at circuits all over the country, gained a National Race Licence, won several races outright (even against full GP125 bikes on twisty circuits), rode as an invited rider at the "Race of the Year" meeting at Mallory Park, and had broken the 80cc lap record at Anglesey. At the end of the year he raced against the best Metrakit MiniGP70 riders from round the World at the MiniGP World Festival, run on the full Valencia GP circuit, that year and finished 3rd on a bike loaned for the event. It had to be run in during practice!!
In 2004 he moved on to race the Chapman-Tyrell sponsored GP 125 Honda at MRO meetings. Putting all his Metrakit experience to good use he went on to win what was at the time a very high profile Championship series. As Chris moved on in 2004 to full GP125, FAB-Racing was formed to run the MiniGP British Championships.
The very first winner that year was 10 year old Scott Redding, and the following year’s winner was Danny Kent. Both moved on to race and win at Grand Prix, with Danny becoming the 2015 Moto3 World Champion. A succession of top riders at National and International level continue to follow from FAB-Racing, too many to mention. Take a look at the ever growing School of Fame to see just how many riders have raced Metrakit MiniGP in the FAB-Racing British Championship series over the years.
At the beginning of 2003 the UK supplier for Metrakit tuning parts, BEK Wholesale Ltd, imported one of the newly designed and developed Metrakit Junior race bike that they had very aptly named the MiniGP. This MiniGP machine has all the features of an out and out GP style racer. Many have since used the MiniGP name but none are a true MiniGP. The Metrakit has a 2 stroke liquid cooled motor, six speed gearbox, front and rear disc brakes, and handles like a full size race bike, in fact a small version GP bike.
They now had the bike and then came the problem of how and where to race it. The only class that seemed open to it was the "up to 125cc" open class run at many ACU club events throughout the UK. Even then it did not comply with minimum wheel size regulation. Open class racing motorcycles must have 16" or bigger wheels. After 2 months of negotiation with the ACU it was agreed that the MiniGP could be run on a trial basis at an ACU meeting at the Darley Moor Circuit. It could run with the Aprilia 125cc bikes and JRA 80cc bikes but not count in the results. These two classes were running together, but counting as separate races, with the Aprilia bikes starting from the front rows on the grid and the rows behind, the JRA bikes. The MetraKit MiniGP could start from the back behind both of these classes.
The BEK management now had a problem. They had the bike, permission to race it, but no rider. They had been given very little notice of the ACU decision and the original choice, a young Motocross rider, had to meet commitments for the team he rode for.
A chance phone call to BEK for information on Metrakit parts from Clive Jones, a motorcycle dealer, lead to mention of the problem. Clive made the suggestion that his 12 year-old son Chris Jones, a Championship winner Minimoto rider, could solve the problem. Although Chris was a complete unknown to BEK, and the MiniGP a complete uknown to Clive and Chris, it was mutually decided to "give it a go". The MiniGP, increased to 70cc using an off the shelf Metrakit kit (to give Chris at least some chance against his larger engined rivals), was transported to Darley Moor. ARoger and Rob from BEK located Chris and dad Clive in the paddock and, having introduced themselves to each other, Chris was shown the bike he was to ride for the first time. Chris was sent off to ride, slowly, up and down the paddock road several times to get the feel of the controls. He was instructed to take it very easy in practice as the machine was not fully run-in and the track was damp. In addition Chris had never seen the track before and, in fact, had never ridden at a full size circuit before. Chris only completed three practice laps before the session was stopped due to a fallen rider. As a one day meeting no time was available to give more practice sessions, so that was all the practice he was able to have.
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