Here are some photos from the third Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Our journey to Darley Moor Round 3 began a couple of hours after Dave Jnr's transatlantic flight from New York City landed! With the team rider back on home soil, it was time to load up make the 51-mile journey to the circuit. Travelling on the Saturday meant that we could once again get the necessary formalities of signing on and scruitineering out of the way, before it was time for Dave Snr to settle down in the caravan and watch the World Cup.
But before we talk any more about racing, here are a couple of photos of Kate - the team's newest member!
As per previous events, we had back-to-back qualifying sessions with the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying taking place as the very first session of the day, followed directly by the Formula 600 qualifying. But new for this weekend was taking part in back-to-back championship races - as the Mini Sound of Thunder races directly followed the Formula 600 races at this meeting.
We qualified in 2nd place in the Mini Sound of Thunder class and qualified in 6th (out of 28) in the Formula 600 class - our best result so far on the Kawasaki Supersport machine.
Our first race was the Allcomers race where grid slots are chosen at random - we picked 2nd which was a great (albeit lucky) selection! A good start put us into 3rd place entering Wilsons chicane. On the opening lap we passed Martin Robbins to take 2nd place and then on lap 2 we passed Jamie Edwards to take the leading position.
We managed to retain the lead until lap 5 when we were caught and passed by Ross Richards. The podium-placed rider positions then remained the same until the end of the 10-lap race. Ross Richards took the win, we secured 2nd place (and the accompanying trophy) with Jamie Edwards taking the final podium spot.
During the Allcomers race we noticed that the left-hand handlebar position felt uncomfortable - and on return to the paddock we realised that it had become slightly loose and had managed to rotate backward towards us! A quick realignment and the bike was ready to go again.
Another, more worrying, issue was that by end of lap 8 Dave Jnr was suffering from exhaustion and felt completely drained of energy - which we attributed to Jet Lag finally catching up with him. We decided to skip the Peak Cup races to "fuel the rider" and make sure that he was in tip-top condition for the Formula 600 and Mini Sound of Thunder championship-points races.
The first of the Formula 600 races had three attempts at running. On the first attempt, a crash at the hairpin on the opening lap caused the 8-lap race to be red-flagged. At the restart, which was reduced to 7-laps, David Shallcross highsided coming out of Park corner on lap 1 which brought out another red-flag. Fortunately, neither rider was badly injured and the third attempt of the race start got away OK.
Our start (from 6th on the grid) wasn't great and at the end of lap 1 we were sitting in 10th position. By the end of lap 2 we had moved up to 9th position and then by the end of lap 3 we had moved up to 8th position (and set a new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.32). By the end of lap 5 we had closed a gap to a group of riders ahead (and set another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.28). On lap 6 we moved up another position and on the last lap we and set yet another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.11 and crossed the finishing line in our best-ever result of 7th position, 2.30 seconds behind the final points scoring rider of Gary Hutchinson.
The Mini Sound of Thunder race was straight after the Formula 600 race, so we rushed around the slowdown lap to return to the paddock, where Dave Snr was waiting with the Kawasaki Supertwin. After carefully leaning the Kawasaki Supersport machine against the fence, we headed back out onto the starting grid. On the warm-up lap there was yet more action when one of the PreInjection riders ran into the rear of a Mini Sound of Thunder rider on the Pope straight and fell.
At the start of the race we slipped into 3rd position in class, before overtaking Elliot Williams on the opening lap and then catching up to race-leader Ross Richards. Us three leading Mini Sound of Thunder riders then got caught within a battle behind some of the PreInjection riders, which limited our ability to carry corner-speed and therefore limited our laptimes. It was a close but frustrating race, but at the chequered flag Ross Richards took the win, Elliot Williams took 2nd place and we finished in 3rd place (just 0.22 of a second behind).
Before the second Formula 600 race there was a slight sprinkling of "mental rain" but the track was still 99% dry. A great start put us into 4th position into the first chicane. We managed to retain our 4th position until the end of lap 3 when Chris Sammons came by. On lap 4 Andy Barber then came passed and relegated us to 5th position. We circulated in 5th position for a few more laps until we were caught by Jamie Horner on lap 7. We managed to stay with Jamie and Andy until the flag but were unable to make a pass and crossed the line in 7th position (only 0.50 of a second behind 5th position). This is great news as it shows that we are starting to challenge for points - but unfortunately, our first-ever Formula 600 championship point eluded us on this occasion!
Once the Formula 600 race was over, we once again rushed back to the paddock and swapped onto our 650cc Supertwin machine and headed straight onto the Mini Sound of Thunder grid.
An average start meant that we got caught up with some other Mini Sound of Thunder traffic that hindered our ability to carry the cornerspeed that we wanted through the chicanes. But on lap 6 we were finally able to make an overtaking maneuver and make use of some clear track, immediately dropping 0.75 of a second from our lap time! Putting in a couple of decent laps, we were able to chase down race-leader Elliot Williams and at Townleys on lap 7 (of 8) we managed to take the lead. It wasn't to last long though, as by the end of the Pope Straight on the same lap Elliot returned the favour and re-took the lead going into Paddock corner.
Starting the final lap, Elliot then took a lot of kerb on the exit of the Wilsons chicane which affected his drive down towards Park corner. With only a few corners at Darley Moor, we took the opportunity to attempt a block pass, which was a bit scruffy but clean. For the remainder of the lap we kept our head down and crossed the line to take our first Mini Sound of Thunder victory of the 2018 season! We later learned that heading into Park corner on that final lap, Elliot changed down one gear too many, which allowed Jamie Edwards to come through and finish in 2nd place, with Elliot crossing the line in 3rd place.
Our next race meeting will be the Darley Moor double-header on Saturday & Sunday 4th/5th August.
Here are some photos from the second Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
With Dave Snr spending the weekend at the Spanish MotoGP round and Lorna recently giving birth to the team's newest member, Dave Jnr travelled to Darley Moor alone to setup our simplified paddock space and to get scrutineered and signed-on. After setting up, Dave Jnr walked the track with Joe Walton and Jason Wilkes to steal any 'fast lap secrets' that they were hiding.
After noise testing our Kawasaki Supertwin, we were out in the first two qualifying sessions of the day. Up first was the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session and as usual there was a lot of traffic to contend with. We managed to find a clear lap and qualified in 5th place, before ending the session early so we could take our Kawasaki Supersport for noise testing and then straight onto track - where we qualified in 9th position for the Formula 600 race.
Our first race of the day was the 10-lap Allcomers (up to 650cc) race. Grid positions were picked out of the hat and we 'chose averagely' to start from 9th place on the grid - but the random nature of the grid selection actually meant that most of the front row of the grid was empty - as no-one selected them!
A good start put us into 2nd position at the first chicane, directly behind Simon Edmondson. Into the final corner on the opening lap we made a move and took the lead. Putting in a series of good laps, we managed to post the fastest lap of the race and then won the race by 6.78 seconds at the chequered flag.
Behind us, Jason Wilkes was running in 2nd place until he crashed at Park corner on lap 4. At the flag, MCN senior road tester Adam Child finished in 2nd place, with Simon Edmondson 23.63 seconds behind and taking the final podium position.
As you can see on the video below (at 5:04) the front-facing camera decided to break during the race! This provided an interesting and alternative view of the race which I left in for a couple of minutes. But for those of you with sea-sickness, you'll be glad to hear that by 7:03 I revert to the rear camera view only :-)
The next race was the Peak Cup, which we used for some extra practice on the Kawasaki Supersport machine. Like at the previous event, we got stuck in battles with some of the slower 1000cc riders again, so the race was a bit frustrating but we felt that we were riding well.
After a short break, we headed out for the Formula 600 race. Straight away we felt good and dropped to lap times that were close to our Personal Best on the bike. At the end of the opening lap we were in 11th place, then we managed to pass a couple of our competitors to finish the race in 9th position (out of 28 finishers) which is our best finish so far. Our fastest lap of 1'00.76 was posted on the final lap, which is slightly slower than our 1'00.60 Personal Best time that was set at the previous event.
The fourth race of the day was the Mini Sound of Thunder race, which was combined on the grid with the PreInjection up to 1300cc class. Starting the race from 14th position on the combined grid, we had a messy start. A missed downshift at the hairpin on the opening lap meant for a slow start to the race and we crossed the line in 4th position (in class) at the end of the opening lap, which was 1.15 seconds behind Rich Stubbs in 3rd place.
The pace of the race seemed to be really slow and we bridged the gap to 3rd place easily within half a lap. At the end of lap 2, our class leader was only 3 seconds ahead of us and we knew we could go 1.5 seconds per lap quicker, so tried to get our head down and see whether we could catch up. But on lap 3, the race was red flagged after Rich Stubbs and Darren Spruce tangled entering Townleys corner. The crash looked quite serious and we hope that both of them will make a full recovery soon!
Darren was airlifted to hospital whilst Rich was taken to a different hospital by road. After a lengthy delay, the organisers decided not to re-run the race and the race result was called after 3 laps. Elliott Williams was declared the winner, with Adam Child in 2nd and we were awarded 3rd place.
Due to the Mini Sound of Thunder stoppage delay (along with a number of delays through the day), the organisers took the decision to abandon the meeting after the first half of the race calendar had been completed.
In 2018 so far there have been many positives - a race win on the Kawasaki Supertwin, continually improving results on the Kawasaki Supertsport & some good (but not great) lap times being posted. After looking at the datalogging, it appears that part of the missing time is due to weather/machine performance and part of the missing time is due to carrying lower speed through the chicanes - something to focus on at the next meeting!
We have a bit of a break now, due to the Isle of Man TT, but our next race event will be at Darley Moor Round 3 on Sunday 17th June - where hopefully we can get back into consistent podium positions on the Kawasaki Supertwin and hopefully we can finally score some championship points on the Kawasaki Supersport machine (which will require a top 6 finish).
Here are some photos from the first Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Following the cancellation of NG Brands Hatch, Darley Moor Round 1 marked the start of our 2018 racing season. After spending the week in London, David Jnr arrived back to our Northwich base on Friday afternoon and then packed up and headed to the circuit on Friday evening.
The majority of the Saturday test day was spent getting more "seat time" on our Kawasaki Supersport bike. A number of small changes were made - including a change to the amount of throttle slack which made a massive difference to the way the bike felt whilst riding - and by the end of the day we felt natural on the new bike.
During the test day we also helped a lot of fellow riders overcome small early-season issues and, at the request of Eddie Nelson, we spent a session following young rider Thomas Pilling around the track on his first outing at Darley Moor. Thomas is running out of the Hodson Racing awning and is quickly improving, so look out for him in the future!
With the arrival of the Sunday race day, we thought it would be good to clarify our aims for the 2018 race season:
* Achieve a sub-1'00 lap of Darley Moor on the Kawasaki Supersport 600 machine, and
* Be able to complete 9 laps of Darley Moor before the "Stars" complete 10 laps! As we intend to enter the prestigious "Stars at Darley" race, we do not want to potentially interfere with the race result - so will only enter the Stars race if we can complete the races without being lapped.
We were entered into 8 races on the Sunday but as David Jnr was flying off to NYC for work early on the Monday morning, we knew that "safe riding" would be an integral part of the day. Due to the race schedule we actually competed in 6 races which was enough to keep everyone busy throughout the day!
The first qualifying session (on the Kawasaki Supertwin) was full of crashes and yellow flags. Unable to get a clear lap in, we managed to qualify 4th place in class (5th on the combined grid).
The qualifying session for the Kawasaki Supersport 600 bike was directly after the Supertwin session - once again there were more crashes and a red flag this time due to a couple of crashes at the back chicane. We wish all the best to anyone injured during those incidents! By the end of the restarted session we had qualified in 11th place (of 25) with a lap time of 1'03.33.
The first race of the day (and the season!) was the "Up to 650cc twin Allcomers" race. From the start we headed into the first chicane in second place and then managed to move into the lead by the end of the opening lap. On lap 2, Chris Moore came passed - we tried to keep with him but his pace was just too strong. Being kept honest by Richard Stubbs close behind, we managed to put in a series of consistent laps to keep 2nd position to the chequered flag and picked up our first trophy of the 2018 season.
Our second race of the day was the Peak Cup race, which we entered for some extra track time on the Kawasaki Supersport 600 bike. During the race we got caught up in a battle with some of the slower-lapping 1000cc bikes. After attempting to get passed for a few laps we though "we're not learning anything by doing this", so decided to drop back so that we could complete a few clear laps - this worked and we managed to put in a new personal best of 1'02.09 on the new Supersport bike.
Our third race of the day was the Formula 600 race - the first time we had raced against a 600 grid for 19 years! After a steady start, we proceeded to pick off riders one by one, setting a personal fastest-ever lap time of 1'00.60 around Darley Moor. Across the line, we finished in 12th place.
Our fourth race was the Mini Sound of Thunder race. Into the first chicane we tangled with Elliot Williams. Trying the stay out of trouble, we stayed steady and then chased down leaders. By the end of the race we had put in the 2nd fastest lap but finished 4th on track, 0.36 of a second behind Jason Wilkes. The race was won by Elliot Williams with Richard Stubbs taking the runner-up spot.
In the second Formula 600 race there was a big group of us covering 9th to 15th positions. Like in the opening Formula 600 race, we slowly managed to pick off riders in front one by one. Unfortunately, our progress was halted when we got stuck behind rider that had a quick bike but was slow through chicanes, which resulted in slower overall lap times for us - as we couldn't take advantage of our strong point on the circuit. We finished in 12th place again with a best lap time of 1'02.07.
The final race of our day was the second Mini Sound of Thunder race. On the opening lap, Jason Wilkes was a bit wild into Park (and a few other corners) so we decided to stay safe and kept out of trouble - but that meant that we eventually finished in a lowly 5th position.
Reflecting at the end of a busy weekend, we think this was some of the best fun we've had at a race meeting for a while. We are happy with our progress on the new Kawasaki Supersport 600 machine and David Jnr left safely in one piece to travel to NYC (hence this slightly delayed race report!).
Our next race meeting will be Darley Moor Round 2 on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May. Baby Carson #2 is due that weekend, so depending on baby's arrival date we may or may not be present at that meeting - but if we can be there then we will! :-)
David Carson Jnr,