Here are some photos from the first Darley Moor meeting of 2019, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
It feels good to be back!! After a winter that felt so long it had us weighing our bikes to ascertain weight distributions (see our Facebook page for results) and even changing suspension settings on the Kawasaki Supertwin so it more closely behaves like the Kawasaki Supersport machine.
We left Two Daves Racing HQ on Friday evening and less than 2 miles into the journey the nearside caravan tyre burst. A quick roadside swap got us going again, until we got ~1.5 miles from the circuit when the replacement nearside caravan tyre also burst! Another quick roadside swap (back onto the first wheel that had suffered damage) and we slowly hobbled to the circuit - creating a lengthy tailback on the A515 along the way.
Saturday morning was spent obtaining a spare caravan tyre to get us back on two wheels, before spending the afternoon testing. The aim during testing was to blow away some winter cobwebs and to check that both bikes were running well. After two sessions we parked up the Kawasaki Supertwin as it felt great (and the suspension changes worked). We participated in the full three sessions on the Kawasaki Supersport as it took a little while longer to get dialled into the quicker bike, but by the end of the day we were feeling good.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck Stuart Hall in the test day when he slipped off the 'loaned' RV Racing SV650 at Townleys corner - but rider fortunately walked away unharmed.
With the arrival of the Sunday race day, we thought it would be good to officially clarify our aims for the 2019 race season, which are:
* To finish the Formula 600 championship in 7th place or better at the end of the season (we finished 8th in 2018)
* Be able to complete 9 laps of Darley Moor before the "Stars" complete 10 laps! We intend to enter the prestigious "Stars at Darley" race again and do not want to potentially interfere with the race result - so want to be able to complete the 10-lap races without being lapped.
Our first qualifying session of the season was for the Mini Sound of Thunder class. Despite the dry weather the air and track were very cold. After getting into the swing of things we managed to qualify 2nd in class (4th on combined grid). Towards the end of the session we witnessed a crash directly in front us, where Paul Fletcher had several attempts at highsiding his Kawasaki ZX10R before eventually bike-surfing it to a standstill - epic skills indeed!
Qualifying for the Formula 600 class was up next. The session went well and we qualified in 6th position.
For the 2019 season, the way that Darley Moor championship points are awarded has changed. With exception of a bonus point that is awarded to the winner of the "qualifying race", all points (and trophies) are awarded in the second race of the day - the "points race" where points go down to 10th position with the following allocations: 15,12,10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1 (note: double points are awarded at the season finale)
The first race of the day was the Mini Sound of Thunder 'qualifying' race. As soon as the final call was announced over the paddock tannoy we headed to the assembly area, but due to a number of machine recoveries from the previous race, we were left in the assembly area for more than 10 minutes.
Due to the delays Daley Mathison (who was back in attendance and just like at the 2015 Stars meeting was very quick in every class he entered) and his team took the opportunity to refit tyre warmers in the assembly area to curb the heat loss from the tyres. Without that ability ourselves, we decided to spend the first few laps of the 6-lap race ensuring that our tyres were warm before we started pressing on. We managed to have a few battles with some PI600 riders and finished 2nd in class (7th overall) which would put us 7th on the grid for the points race.
Next up was the Formula 600 'qualifying' race where we got quite a poor start and lost a few positions on the run to the first chicane. Through the race we slowly made our way back through pack and eventually finished in 7th place, which would put us 7th on the grid for the points race.
With lunchtime declared, it was time to venture across the paddock to help Mike Gittings celebrate his 32nd birthday. After singing 'Happy Birthday' and eating some of Mike's birthday cake, we disappeared back to our caravan... :-)
It was now time for the races that mattered - the points races! Mini Sound of Thunder was the first up and we got a good start and once again had some battles with the PI600 riders. It was an interesting race and we managed to go a bit faster (into the 1'02s) and eventually finished the race 2nd in class. Daley Mathison took the class win by over 19 seconds, with third-placed Richard Saville a further 20-seconds behind us. Birthday-boy Mike Gittings took 4th place in the race.
The final race of the day was our most important one - the Formula 600 'points' race. A good start meant that we were able to maintain our 7th place starting position through the first chicane and on the opening lap we moved up into 6th place. We could see the leaders during the opening laps but Albert Walker (ahead of us in 5th place) was very impressive on the brakes which made him difficult to pass. On lap 6 of 8 we finally got ourselves into a position to attempt a pass and moved up into 5th place, we then put in our best laps of the weekend (with a best of 59.55) and secured our 5th place finish. Reigning Formula 600 champion Lloyd Shelley took a narrow victory from Stephen Parsons, with Matt Zschiesche taking third and Rich Baker taking fourth spot.
With the new championship point allocations, the championship positions are effectively the race results from today:
* We currently stand 2nd in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship
* We currently stand 5th in the Formula 600 championship
This race meeting was great fun and left us wanting more! With no particular machine faults to resolve, there will be a bit of downtime over the coming weekends as our next race meeting will be Darley Moor Round 2 on Bank Holiday Monday 6th May.
David Carson Jnr,