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Here are some photos from the seventh Darley Moor meeting of 2016, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Last weekend we made the 200+ mile journey to the fantastic Snetterton 300 circuit to take part in the final round of the 2016 Thunderbike championship. We hadn't visited Snetterton since 2011 (when racing CB500s with ThundersportGB) but setting up in the paddock near where we did five years ago made it feel like we'd never been away!
The Friday test day had a promising start, with the track looking like it would stay dry for the morning session before a "chance" of some rain showers moving in towards the afternoon.
Before we had a chance to take advantage of the dry track, an early rain shower landed. We went out in the wet first session of the day and re-learned our way around the Snetterton 300 layout. Some corners were a bit tighter than we remembered, but it didn't take long to feel comfortable with where we were going.
When we returned from the first session heavy rain landed on us, then we were treated to some impressive thunderstorms! We decided to sacrificed a couple of test sessions to fit some new tyres (a full set of wets and a dry rear) and then headed out in one of the afternoon sessions to test the new wet tyres, as Dunlop have apparently stopped making the British-made KR393 tyres have replaced them with the French-made KR389s instead. We couldn't tell any difference on-track - so this change makes little difference to us!
With so much standing water on the circuit we decided it wasn't worth the risk to keep circulating so called it a day after returning in from the afternoon session, as the weekend forecast was looking a lot better - light rain showers on Saturday and then a dry Sunday! We got a night sunset too...
The weather forecast (as usual) turned out to be way off! With 40-50mph winds doing their best to destroy awnings overnight, it was very wet for our qualifying session. The 12-minute qualifying session turned out to be a 4-lap dash for everyone with most people putting in their fastest lap on their final lap - including us! We managed our best qualifying position of the BEMSEE season and qualified in 6th position (on the 2nd row!) for the Saturday race.
The rain kept on falling through the day, and competitors kept on spilling oil and fuel onto the track as well! In particular, a severe fuel leak contaminated the circuit meaning that a 2-hour clean-up operation was required. These delays meant that we once again had our two planned 5-lap races combined into a single 8-lap race.
Starting from our sixth place grid position, we got a great start to take fourth position into the first corner. We were circulating in around fifth position when an oil spill caused a lot of falls (which almost included us twice - at 9:00 and 11:30 in the video below). The race was red-flagged and stopped on lap 5 of 8 when we had moved up to 2nd position.
It was decided that the race would be re-run over 4 laps. At the restart (after a lengthy delay), we took second place in the race which we kept until the last lap when we were overtaken. But we managed to get a fantastic drive out of the final corner and retook 2nd place at the flag by 0.047 of a second and only 2.752 seconds behind the race winner, to achieve our first ever BEMSEE podium!
In the traditional Saturday night awards presentation, we were over the moon and collected our trophy for the fantastic 2nd place finish in the Saturday BEMSEE Thunderbike race.
We woke to a much drier day on Sunday, with the track only damp in a few places when we went out for the first of our two Sunday races. Our 2nd place finish on Saturday gave us 2nd position on the starting grid for Sunday's first race.
When the race began we got a good start and kept our 2nd position into the first corner and through the first half of the first lap - when we moved up a position to take the lead! After leading for almost a lap, we were demoted to second place and then back to third place a few laps later - which we managed to keep to the line to take our first DRY podium at BEMSEE!
With the 3rd place finish in the first Sunday race, it gave us another front row start for the final race of our weekend. We initially made a good start but the quicker R6 on grid position two made a shocker of a start and then pushed us to the inside of the circuit and boxed us in, so we left the first corner in 6th position.
Throughout the first half of the race we were part of a close battle for 2nd position, but on lap 4 of 6 (at 8:08 in the video below) Jack Willis' SV650 blew up in front of us and covered us in oil and engine bits! When this happened we backed off and it cost us three seconds and a race position. When Jack pulled off the track, we went easy for a few corners to check our tyres were clean and then rode hard to get back up to 6th position at the flag.
With our successful final round we end the season just outside the championship Top 10, after competing in 5 of the 8 rounds (18 of the 30 championship races). We also scored points in every race that we finished - which is also a nice achievement in such a strong championship.
The BEMSEE Thunderbike championship is now over, but we still have one event left in our 2016 season - the "Stars at Darley" event at Darley Moor on Sunday 9th October. We have already won our championships at Darley Moor but will still be in attendance - so if you visit please come by and say "Hi!" :-)
For those of you who have been following with our (2015) Summer Break Projects - where we previously restored our 1989 Yamaha Jog - we have some more exciting news! The restoration of our 1996 Aprilia RS125SP is now complete!
We took ownership of our Aprilia RS125SP in late 1996 (almost 20 years ago!) and it brought us five championships over three different decades (as well racing in the British championships), so it holds a lot of sentimental value for us. But in the last few years it was looking a little unloved so it was time to restore her to her former glory...
The majority of the bike was in a good condition (underneath all of the dirt and dust) but a few parts needed to be powdercoated and the bodywork needed a respray - other than that, it just needed a lot of elbow grease! I hope you'll agree that the end result is something that we can be proud of :-)
Our Aprilia RS125SP was restored to the visual appearance of how it looked was when we last rode her in the 2012 season. The bike is now "retired" so has found a comfortable home in the garage - alongside our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin which has since brought us three more championships (including two in the 2016 season).
And for those Honda CB750 F1 lovers out there, you will be glad to hear that Dave Snr has started his restoration! The Honda has been stripped down to the frame and the various parts are currently being assessed and put into various piles for cleaning/painting/powdercoating. The aim is to get the Honda CB750 F1 back into one piece for Spring 2017 - but the rebuild will not be to factory specification...
Current ideas for customisation include: A twin disc brake conversion (achieved by swapping the entire front end to a CB750 F2 version), a change to ComStar wheels, the fitment of some different handlebars and a restyling exercise - which might even include a "Two Daves Racing" style paintjob... As soon as there is any update available, we'll let you know :-)
We'll start with some fantastic news - we have managed to secure both the Two Daves Racing and Proficient Security sponsored Formula Darley championship and the Mini Sound of Thunder championship at Darley Moor Round 7 this weekend (with a race meeting to spare). We have been competing in these two championships for the past five seasons, so are extremely happy to finally be crowned as champions!
We headed off to Darley Moor Round 7 on the Saturday afternoon. With the British round of the MotoGP world championship taking place at Silverstone, we couldn't resist watching qualifying session on TV before we set off, so arrived a little later than usual - but still managed to get scrutineed and signed-on on the Saturday evening, then settled down to watch Ice Age on DVD :-)
Overnight there were heavy winds and rain that managed to overturn certain awnings in the paddock! By the morning, the rain had eased off but by 10am there were still puddles around, so we headed out for the Formula Darley qualifying session on wet tyres. We managed to get down to a low 1'09 lap time - which was two seconds faster than the 2nd placed qualifier - before the session was red flagged. After a short break, the session was restarted but we decided to not go out in order to save our tyres. With the track looking a bit drier, our competitors went faster and Kevin Bond reduced our advantage to just 0.11 of a second - but we managed to keep hold of pole position!
The following Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session was damp and we also managed to be fastest in class, which put us 5th on combined starting grid for that race.
After the qualifying sessions there was a presentation on the start line to commemorate the official opening of the "Joyce Wilson Memorial Medical Centre" (which hopefully we'll never need to use - but it's nice to know it is there!), then the medical vehicles did an honorary lap of the circuit before the day's racing began.
For our first race, Formula Darley Race 1, the track was still damp in places so we decided to go out on wets. After a good start, we got the holeshot into the first chicane. Kevin Bond was running close behind us and after five laps was only 0.3 of a second behind us. But a strong push to the end of the race meant that we built up a 3.5 second buffer and could celebrate going over the line when we became the 2016 Formula Darley champions!
When we got back into the paddock, we only had ~8 minutes before we had to head back out for Mini Sound of Thunder race 1 - so we refuelled and, with only time to change one wheel, changed the rear to a dry tyre as the wet tyre was tearing up on the 'almost dry' track.
The higher profile of the wet front tyre (compared to the dry front tyre) meant that our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin had a slight tendency to run wide, so when the race started we stuck on the heels of Kevin Bond for the first half of the race until we got used to the handling, then made a move for the lead. We took the lead and pushed as hard as we could, but the overheating wet front tyre was holding us back. By the time the finishing flag appeared, we won with a 9 second lead.
With the morning races out of the way we had a couple of hours to spare, so celebrated winning the Formula Darley championship with some traditional champagne spraying - but the rider had to wait until the end of the day to drink any... :-)
By the afternoon, the track was completely dry - making the tyre choice easy! With the Formula Darley championship wrapped up earlier in the day, we were able to relax and enjoy this race. Near the end of the first lap we took the lead and then proceeded to take the win by 12 seconds. Kevin Bond ran a safe race to secure himself the runner-up position in the Formula Darley championship, as he now cannot be caught by the 3rd-placed championship riders at the final round.
The final race of the day, Mini Sound of Thunder race 2, gave us the opportunity to also wrap up the Mini Sound of Thunder championship. If Kevin Bond was to win the race then we would need to finish in the top four to secure the championship. With our performances throughout the day we knew that we just needed to keep out of trouble and things should be fine - but this race proved to be the most interesting of the day!
When the race started we got boxed out at the entrance to the first chicane, then a late passing manoeuvre by Stephen Taylor into the following corner lifted up the 250cc bike of Jamie O'Brien, which then caused a series of moments that lost us a lot of places. After regrouping, we made a few places back through the opening lap but at the start of lap two, Jamie O'Brien ran wide and onto the grass and mud at the first chicane which again caused chaos and allowed the riders behind to get back passed again - at this point we were running in second to last in the race!
With the aim of staying out of trouble still in our head, we decided that the best thing to do would be to push hard, attempt to overtake the 'chaos causers' and then to get some space between us and them. We managed to achieve this by the end of lap two, but by the time we did we were 8 seconds behind the race leader with only 6 laps left to run. After putting in fast lap after fast lap (including a 1'02.06 lap - our personal best is 1'01.91), we managed to claw our way back to the lead battle and finally caught and passed 2nd-placed Kevin Bond on the penultimate lap, with leader Stephen Taylor just 0.7 of a second ahead of us going into the final lap.
By the half-way point on the final lap we were with the leader but could not make a pass into the back chicane, so would need to wait until the final straight to make a pass. Coming out of the hairpin and onto the final straight, we got a great drive then slipstreamed Stephen and took the lead. Into the braking area, we took a defensive line and braked very late - but Stephen had his own ideas and decided to do an "optimistic lunge" down the inside which almost ran us both off-track. We both managed to recover and pip Kevin Bond to the line, with all three of us crossing the line within 0.9 of a second.
So with Pole Position in both classes, the fastest lap in all four races, 3 wins, 1 second place & two championships wrapped up - it's not been a bad weekend! :-)
The championship point standings now appear as per the tables below - with one round remaining (and a maximum of 36 points available in each class). Kevin Bond and Stephen Taylor will continue their personal championship battle into the final round, as the runner-up position in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship is still yet to be decided!
Our championship wins mean that we will be attending the Darley Moor Presentation of Awards in February 2017 to pick up a nice couple of trophies!
This isn't the end of our season though, as we will be racing at BEMSEE Thunderbikes Round 8 (Snetterton 300) in mid-September, before returning to Darley Moor at the start of October for their "Stars at Darley" season finale.
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, Tim Poole of the Poole Performance Centre & I would particularly like to thank Michael Mulvaney from Proficient Security and Lavastorm for their continued support.
David Carson Jnr,