Here are some photos from the final Darley Moor meeting of 2019, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
The moment that we had been waiting for had finally arrived... Stars at Darley weekend!
This meeting has been a personal highlight of ours for many years so we took particular care in preparing the race machines as best as we could, as well as doing little jobs like replacing tank rubbers, replacing various insignificant bolts and fixings - just to make sure that everything was perfect. We even gave the caravan a thorough wash!
We arrived at the circuit on Friday evening. Due to heavy rain all week leading up to the event there were puddles everywhere in the paddock, but after finding a 'shallow spot' we setup for the weekend.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the Carson household had suffered from various bugs and illnesses - and even though Dave Jnr wasn't fully over his "manflu-like" symptoms when we arrived at the circuit, he was feeling good enough to compete!
On Saturday we were only out on track for the hour-long Stars free practice session. The track conditions were dry but there was heavy wind. We went out and realised that we were overgeared for the conditions, so came back in and added 2 teeth to rear sprocket. This then made us slight undergeared, but would be ideal if the forecast rainy conditions arrived on the Sunday.
When we returned out on track for the second outing, the rear tyre didn't feel particularly hot to the touch. After some investigation, Dave Snr declared the rear tyre warmer as 'broken' - so over the winter a new set of warmers will be acquired.
With our time on track now finished, we whipped out the wheels and had our new tyres fitted to the Kawasaki ZX6R wheels - ready for either wet or dry conditions on the Sunday - before nipping to scrutineering.
The 'party bus' arrived on Saturday night to take ~80 people (Stars riders and their team members) to a local pub for some much-needed food and drink.
After feeding ourselves, and watching a bit of TV, we were tucked up in bed shortly after 9pm to prepare for the busy day ahead!
Overnight, and all morning, the rain fell... This prompted a delay to proceedings and a reduction in qualifying session duration and a reduction in the race lengths.
Our first venture onto track was in the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session. We started off steady and just built speed as we felt comfortable. As always, traffic was an issue and just as we were about to start a clean lap the chequered flag was shown. But we had done well - we qualified in 2nd place by 0.13 of a second behind pole-sitter Brad Vicars, with Ross Richards taking third and Richard Saville completing the front row.
The Stars qualifying session was directly after the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session, but due to all the delays we didn't realise. After spending a couple of minutes getting the Kawasaki Supersport engine up to temperature, we headed out on our brand new wet tyres - which span up on the exit from the first chicane at a very moderate speed (see video below!) - so we spent a couple of laps warming the tyres and scrubbing off the tyre release compound, so we could work towards putting in a lap time within 110% of Richard Cooper's pole time (which was 1.25 seconds quicker than 2nd place!). We rode until the flag and although we didn't qualify last, we didn't manage to stay within the 110% mark (we were 113%). Regardless, our name appeared on the starting grid in 16th place - so we had been allowed to race!
Formula 600 qualifying went well and we were feeling comfortable, until our visor began to steam up. So we pulled in and at the end of the session we had qualified on the front row in 4th place - sharing the front row with Brad Vicars, Joey "Yorkshire" Thompson and Stephen Parsons. Behind us were some very established names (such as Jim Hodson) as well as our championship rival Rich Baker who had qualified on the third row in 8th place.
Our first race of the day was the Formula 600 race, which had been reduced from 15 to 12 laps due to the earlier delays. We managed to get a good start and kept our 4th place position for the opening four laps and were consistently around 2 seconds behind 3rd-placed Brad Vicars.
On lap 5 there were yellow flags waving through the back esses all the way to the hairpin, so Brad Vicars slowed behind a backmarker which allowed us to catch up. Rich Baker made a cheeky pass under yellow flags (slap on the wrist for Rich!) which demoted us to 5th on track. By this time, and despite our best efforts, our helmet had started to steam up again and throughout the following laps just got worse and worse - so we were left with no other option than to retire from the race on lap 10.
Annoyed and disappointed that despite all the preparation, an unforeseen issue was preventing us from pushing as hard as we wanted at this final meeting, we decided to withdraw from the remaining races.
Looking back at the season, this has been a fantastic year for us which has exceeded our expectations set at the beginning of the season! So we had a little celebration :-)
After the final round, the end-of-season championship point tables look as follows:
MINI SOUND OF THUNDER CHAMPIONSHIP (TOP 5)
David Carson 92
Richard Hunt 58
Richard Saville 42
Mike Gittings 28
Martin Robbins 26
FORMULA 600 CHAMPIONSHIP (TOP 5)
Rich Baker 90
David Carson 61
David Shallcross 48
Brad Vicars 45
David Glossop 31
Our 2020 plans are still yet to be decided (except that we will be tuning our Kawasaki ZX6R machine to "Supersport spec"), but we are very pleased and proud with what we have accomplished during the 2019 season...
* 2019 Darley Moor "Mini Sound of Thunder" Champion
* 2019 Darley Moor "Formula 600" Championship Runner-Up
* First ever "Formula 600" race win
And last but not least I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my supporters (if you're reading this - then that's you!), Dave Carson Snr, Steph Carson, Lorna Carson & I would particularly like to thank Pomerol Partners, Rock Oil, Eazi-Grip, Sam Pointon and Jason Sedgwick for their support.
Stars at Darley Entry
We'll start with some great news - our entry to the 2019 “Stars at Darley” event has officially been accepted! In this race is an IOM TT legend, a couple of recently-crowned British Champions and numerous BSB-level racers. See the full entry list below...
Those of you with incredible long-term memories may recall that our aim last year was to be able to complete 9 laps of Darley Moor before the "Stars" complete 10 laps (to avoid us being lapped!) - but in both races Richard Cooper caught and passed us (on the second race by just 0.49 of a second!) - so we will be trying to achieve that 'full race distance' this year!
Like last year, BSB Superstock 1000 racer Josh Daley requested to run #88 in the Stars race, so once again we have graciously stepped aside and let him use it for the event. This means that we will use #188 on the Kawasaki Supersport 600 machine (for all races) this coming weekend. Both bikes are now prepped and ready to go - now all we need to do is lap within 110% of pole position to officially qualify for the Stars races...
Changes to Supersport 600 machine
With us planning to tune the machine to "supersport spec" over the winter, we took the opportunity to move from our Bazzaz fuelling module to a Power Commander 5 - which is more widely used. This also gave us the opportunity to do a health check with the bike, which was last dyno'd in February 2018. It appeared that since then we had dropped a few bhp, but the remapping managed to bring us up to 125.4bhp at the rear wheel with 47.4 ft/lb of torque.
In addition, a double-bubble screen (just like is fit to the Kawasaki Supertwin) has also been added to the Supersport bike, to help us to tuck out of the wind a little more.
And thanks to the generosity of Sam Pointon and Jason Sedgwick we have brand new tyres for the event, regardless of what the weather throws at us!
Here are some photos from the penultimate Darley Moor meeting of 2019, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
After a lengthy summer break, where the 'Two Daves' headed across to Portugal to watch the World Superbikes at the Portimao circuit, we headed back to Darley Moor for Round 6 of the club championships.
On the Saturday afternoon we travelled to the circuit and setup, then spent the evening socialising with some of our fellow competitors. After a quick brew, of course...
The Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session was cut short after Stall Racing's Stuart Hall (riding a new-to-him Suzuki Supertwin) tangled handlebars with his friend Ross Williams into Townleys corner on the 2nd flying lap. After a short break we were let back onto track for three laps - which was enough for us to qualify pole in class (6th on the combined grid).
In the Formula 600 qualifying session we struggled to put together a clean lap and to break the 1-minute barrier, but managed to qualify 2nd on the grid - but over 1.5 seconds behind the pole-setting time set by championship leader Rich Baker.
Our first race of the day was the Formula 600 'qualifying' race. We made a fantastic start and managed to stay with race-leader Rich Baker for the first two laps - but by pushing beyond our comfort levels we were making mistakes and our lap times varied between 58 and 60 second laps. At the end of lap 4 Joe Walton then relegated us to 3rd place, where we remained until the chequered flag.
The Mini Sound of Thunder grid took a hit throughout this meeting - with two thirds of the riders that entered the meeting not finishing the final points race!
The Mini Sound of Thunder 'qualifying' race was entertaining and makes the first 3.5 minutes of the onboard video great viewing. By the end of the first lap we were leading our class. We then proceeded to move through the field until we reached 2nd place overall. We won the race from Stuart Fitton and Richard Hunt.
On the sighting lap of the Formula 600 'points' race, light rain started to fall. With some uncertainty regarding the level of grip available, we started slowly and gradually increased our speed. Unfortunately this meant that we slipped back to 4th place by the end of the lap 2. By lap 4 we were feeling more comfortable and set the 2nd-fastest lap of the race in an attempt to catch the leading trio of Rich Baker, Joe Walton and David Shallcross.
On lap 5 we were another 0.3 of a second quicker by the time we got to the back esses, but then at Townleys corner all three of the leading riders fell in an unfortunate incident. A subsequent incident involving Steve Price and Lee Smith also followed at the same corner, bringing the fallen rider count to five. Understandably, the red flag was shown. After a tense waiting period we learned that no life threatening injuries had been sustained - but some bones had been broken. We would like to extend our wishes to all injured riders and hope to see them back on track soon!
With the leading trio classified as "non-finishers", by default we were classified as the race winner! This is our first ever Formula 600 race win, but wasn't awarded in the way we would have preferred...
The delay in proceedings allowed the circuit to dry fully - but on the sighting lap of the Mini Sound of Thunder 'points' race, the sky darkened and another rain shower began. With the continuing shower, low light and a tinted visor, it wasn't possible to properly see just how wet the circuit was - which made the question of "how fast can we go?" very difficult to answer.
In the end we took the class lead and then monitored the gap to 2nd place to secure the win! Stuart Fitton took second place, with Richard Hunt taking the final podium spot.
There is just one race meeting left in our 2019 season (and in the Darley Moor club championships), which will award double-points.
Following this meeting we not only confirmed as the 2019 Mini Sound of Thunder champions, but we have also guaranteed ourselves a Top-2 championship finish in the Formula 600 class. There is only a 5-point-gap in the battle for the Formula 600 championship, so all will be decided at the final round...
FORMULA 600 - TOP 5
Rich Baker 66
David Carson 61
David Shallcross 28
David Glossop 23
Matt Zschiesche 18
MINI SOUND OF THUNDER - TOP 5
David Carson 92
Richard Hunt 34
Richard Saville 22
Alistair Corr 18
Mike Gittings 16
Here are some photos from the fifth Darley Moor meeting of 2019, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
David Carson Jnr,