I would like to wish a warm welcome to Lavastorm Analytics as a new sponsor of the Two Daves Racing team.
In addition to being the employer of David Carson (Jnr), Lavastorm are a business analytic software company that provide agile data management and analytic software that transforms how companies tackle data challenges to achieve breakthrough business results. Their software makes business analysts "heroes" by providing them with the power of programmers to rapidly unify disparate data, easily construct complex analytics and effectively deliver actionable insights and results.
Visit Lavastorm's official website for a brief overview of the capabilities of the Lavastorm Analytics Engine, or alternatively, see how this has been used by the Two Daves Racing team.
During the usual pre-race prepartion of our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin we discovered that during the Oulton Park races a stone had breached the alloy mesh that protects the airbox filter. This has happened once before, so the decision was made to make a much stronger 'double skinned' airbox filter guard in steel mesh instead. Other than that minor issue, all was well so we headed off to Darley Moor Round 2 looking shiny and bright!
Sitting in the caravan around 9pm on Sunday (before the Bank Holiday Monday race day), rain fell so suddenly and heavily that it sounded like someone had jumped onto the caravan roof and started to jetwash it (wishful thinking I know!). A quick look at the weather forecasts showed that 'rain showers' were likely until noon on the Monday race day. Thanks to high winds and the rain stopping around midnight, when we woke in the morning the ground was wet but drying rapidly. Could we really manage to get two dry Darley meetings in a row??
Out in the first qualifying session, the track was dry everywhere except for the braking area at the end of the main straight. The classic bikes had been combined into our Formula Darley qualifying session, so getting in a clean lap was difficult. A clean-ish lap during the session meant that we would qualify in 6th place for the Formula Darley class (with exactly the same laptime as our competitor James Ford - but as he set the laptime before we did, he took the 5th place qualification spot).
There was a 45-minute break before we headed out for the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session - in this time, the track had completely dried on the racing line. A number of racing classes were combined into this session, meaning that 51(!) bikes were out on track at the same time trying to put in a qualifying time. A respectable laptime of 1'03.43 qualified us in 5th place for the Mini Sound of Thunder races.
The first race of the day (Formula Darley Race 1) was a quite lonely race with very little action. Everyone got a clean start and the leaders quickly got down to a pace that I was unable to match. Paul Turner eventually took his first win of 2014 by 0.08 seconds from Brad Vicars, whilst we finished in 6th place.
Mini Sound of Thunder Race 1 was better as we managed to stay with the 5th place bike of Ant Porter for the duration of the race and managed to get to within 0.2 of a second of our personal best laptime in the process. The four leaders had a almightly battle for the win and eventually 1st-4th places crossed the finish line within 0.67 of a second. We crossed the line 7.6 seconds adrift of the lead battle in 6th place.
Formula Darley Round 2 was a lot more promising as we got a good start and stuck with the lead pack, moved up to 5th place between lap 3 and lap 6, but with backmarkers being caught at difficult places, we lost the tow to the 3rd and 4th place runners, before then moving back to 6th place. Another badly-placed backmarker ended any opportunity for a last-lap challenge on 5th placed Ant Porter, as we finished in 6th place for the third time of the day.
The final race of the day was Mini Sound of Thunder Race 2. This race was all about the battle for 5th place with Ant Porter (watch it here). This closely-fought race was eventually won by us by 0.68 second at the chequered flag, after we managed to cleanly get ahead into 5th place on lap 7 and then hold our advantage to the flag.
After Darley Moor Round 2 (of 7), we are now placed 5th in the Formula Darley championship and 6th in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship. The onboard videos for all of these races are available on our YouTube channel.
After our previous successes, three 6th places and a 5th place are not results that we have become used to achieving - but with the increased competitivity of the classes in 2014, all we can do is to focus on increasing our own level of performance in order to try to remain competitive. We have never been as fast as we are in 2014 but it seems like a bit more performance is still needed in order to be as competitive as we want to be. Rest assured, we have some plans in place to try and close the gap to the leaders :-)
Our next race meeting is NG Road Racing Round 3 at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire on 8th/9th/10th May, before the IOM TT causes a 6-week summer gap in our racing schedule.
Videos from Darley Moor Round 2, showing onboard footage from our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin, are now available via the Two Daves Racing YouTube channel.
Round 3 of the NG Road Racing championships took place at our local circuit of Oulton Park. Despite the circuit only being 20 minutes from home, we hadn't raced there since 2012 - when we competed with ThundersportGB on a very sunny day in May on our SV650 Supertwin. Looking back through the previous race results, we ascertained that our personal best lap time around Oulton Park was set on that day, with a laptime of 1'58.99 - but with weather forecasts of 'showers' we were unsure whether we would get the chance to set a new personal record this weekend.
The Friday test day before the Saturday race day started off with a wet track but with the sun breaking through, so we decided to skip the first session to allow the track to dry. After skipping the first session, we spoke to some of the competitors who were out in our group who advised that it would probably be several more sessions before a dry line would appear, so we fitted the wet tyres and ventured out onto the damp track (which would later dry for the afternoon sessions). For whatever reason, the organisers had decided to place us in a group that contained Formula 600 machines rather than with the 650cc MiniTwin machines. This wasn't too much of an issue - except for when the Formula 600 class lived up to their 'axe murderers' reputation when four out of the six sessions were red flagged early due to crashes!
After lunchtime on the Friday, the dry tyres were once again fitted and we slowly chipped away with improvements to our laptimes, finally setting a new personal best laptime of 1'55.68 on our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin in the final session (an almighty 3.3 seconds off the previous best laptime). Things were looking good for the Saturday race day!
Saturday morning arrived and it was dry. We had a 10-minute 'mandatory' free practice session scheduled for 8.40am so had the dry tyres on tyre warmers in plenty of time. And then, at 8.30am, spots of rain started to fall. Within a couple of minutes, the rain was falling heavier. A quick change to wet tyres was necessary which we managed in the nick of time before heading out on track for our practice session. Looking around the assembly area (which by this point was soaking wet!), some others rider had not managed to change tyres and had no choice but to venture out onto the soaking wet circuit on their dry tyres - which would not have been much fun!
With the championship leader not present at this round, we would be starting from pole position for my class for the qualifying race. With the heavy morning rain and a collection of delays throughout the morning (from crashes to oil spills and even a power cut at the circuit), our first race did not start until 2.40pm (six hours after the free practice session!). We headed out for the qualifying race on brand new wet tyres but with the constant delays, the track was now mainly dry with occasional damp patches. The majority of our class had also chosen wet tyres, but there were a few that had changed to dry tyres. On the warm-up lap it was obvious that we were going to struggle on the wets, so 'damage control' was now the aim of the race. Knowing that the wets would overheat before long, we quickly got up to speed and moved into 2nd place by the second corner. With the wet tyres starting to overheat after only a single lap, the bike started moving around on the tyres. Despite this, the bike continued to feel comfortable to ride and we managed to put in a string of laps in the 2'01 second bracket - later we would find out that what felt like 'the bike moving around on the tyres', appeared to our fellow competitors as "sliding all over the place". As the race went on, we knew that the pace that was being achieved on the wet tyres wouldn't be good enough to stay in 2nd place and sure enough, as the race went on we were passed by Peter Boast, then Brad Vicars and then Ben Rea. But with Peter Boast crashing on lap four which brought out the red flags, the race results were moved back one lap which meant that we finished 3rd overall - behind Kevin Davies and Brad Vicars - and would start the Final race from 3rd place on the grid.
In between the qualifying race, a rotation of sunshine then rain shower ensued. This constantly changing weather was starting to irritate David Jnr but Dave Snr seemed to enjoy it, merrily quoting "wet on, wets off" whilst performing the "wax on, wax off" motions found in the original Karate Kid movie.
When the Final race finally started (at 6.15pm!) the track was 99% dry and we had our dry tyres fitted. From our 3rd place grid position, an OK start meant that we exited the first corner in 4th place. After watching Jason Turner run off track and crash at Druids corner on lap 1, consistent laps in the 1'56 second bracket (with a best lap of 1'56.04) meant that we were able to catch and pass Former MCE British Superbike rider James Edmeades to take 3rd place in the race, before becoming involved in a battle with the Triumph 675 of Tom Parkes (who was in the separate Sound of Thunder class). The race was won by (2013 NG MiniTwin champion) Kevin Davies by 2.5 seconds from (2013 Formula Darley champion) Brad Vicars.
We were please with our performance at this event!
With a 3rd place finish meaning 16 more championship points, we remain 2nd place in the NG Supertwins championship and have closed the gap to championship leader Wayne Axon to a single championship point.
The next NG meeting will take place at Cadwell Park on 10th/11th May. Before then, we have Round 2 of the Darley Moor championships on Bank Holiday Monday 21st April (Dave Snr's birthday)
And last but not least, for the data-lovers amongst us, here is a section of the Oulton Park Ideal Lap, formed from 9 different racing laps :-)
Videos from Round 3 of the NG Road Racing championship at Oulton Park, showing onboard footage from our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin, are now available via the Two Daves Racing YouTube channel.
David Carson Jnr,