A CHESTER couple are about to sell their home to fund their teenage son’s sporting career.
Despite being one of Britain’s most talented young motorcycle racers, Joe Francis, 16, could miss the 2014 season as his parents Troy and Sharon need to raise 200,000 Euros (£170,000) if he is to take the next step on the road to becoming a British world champion.
Joe’s dad, Troy, who runs a small fibreglass manufacturing business, says the family, who live in Backford, are trying everything they can to raise the cash they need but selling the family home might be the only option.
He said: “It’s sickening really. Last season Joe won the Moto3 British Championship riding for WD40 and now needs to step up a class.
“He has been offered a ride in the Spanish CEV championship with possible wild card rides in full GP races.
“But we need to raise 200,000 euros before he even gets to climb onto the bike.
“If he was good at football then money would be thrown at him but with bike racing, or any form of motor sport for that matter, you are on your own.
“Spanish riders dominate grand prix racing but that’s because talented riders are supported right from the start.
“They get government funding which is simply not available here.
“Even the cash available for top British athletes is being trimmed nowadays, so what chance do we have? And there is no lottery funding available either.
“We need a major sponsor to come along and help support a real British talent.”
Joe, who has been racing since the age of 10, has won every race series he has been involved in.
However, two years ago lack of cash meant he faced having to leave the Aprilla Superteens Series, despite being well in contention for the title.
His mum Sharon stepped wrote to bike insurers Bennett’s and, to the family’s amazement, the company paid all his fees and costs for the remainder of the season through their Biking Dreams programme and Joe repaid their faith by storming to the title with some blistering performances.
Sharon says: “We are doing everything we can but I’m afraid it may mean losing the house.
“But I’d live in a caravan if we have to; we know Joe has the talent to go all the way.
“If he makes it to MotoGP finance will hopefully not be an issue. It’s this next step that’s the hardest.”
Joe, who was awarded the 2013 Pinhard Trophy, which is presented to the year’s outstanding young motorcycle racer and has been won in the past by racing legends John Surtees and Mike Hailwood, says if he can secure his ride in Spain he knows he can impress factory bosses.
The Neston High School student said: “Bennett’s were fantastic helping me to win the Aprilla Superteens title and they have supported me every year since.
“I’m desperate to raise the funds somehow to race in the Spanish CEV championship this year.
“I’m not allowed to name the team at this stage but they have extended the January 31 deadline to give me more of a chance of raising the funds I need.
“I just want to make everybody proud and bring a world title back to Britain.
“I don’t want mum and dad to sell the house but I know they will if they have to. They are fantastic and support me 100 per cent.”
The talented racer is backed by some British motor cycling legends including British champion and Senior TT winner Roger Burnett and his race day mentor, 12 times British champion Roger Marshall.
Roger Burnett said: “I first met Joe and his family a few years ago at Cadwell Park and have watched him with interest ever since and provided help along the way when I could.
“His talent is plain to see but what impresses me most is his maturity. He is hard-working and takes a keen interest in the technical aspects of his bike and set-up.
“He understands the importance of sponsors, fans and supporters.
“This is huge opportunity for Joe and us, as a nation, to support one of our own.
“I firmly believe it would be a massive shame to let young British talent, such as Joe, go to waste.”
See full story in the Chester Leader