Here are some photos from the final Darley Moor meeting of 2017, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Once again we'll start with some fantastic news - after securing the Formula Darley championship at the previous meeting, this weekend we successfully secured the 2017 Mini Sound of Thunder championship. As you may be aware, we won both of these championships last season and are extremely happy to crowned as double champions once again!
After returning from a (much needed) family holiday, we spent around 8 hours preparing our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin for the final meeting of our 2017 season - the prestigious "Stars at Darley" meeting.
The season finale of the Darley Moor club championships had an added element of intrigue as quadruple points were on offer for each race - but with only one race per class during the day rather than the usual two races. With only a 10-point lead over our closest competitor (Joe Walton), it meant that the winner of the Mini Sound of Thunder race could also take the Mini Sound of Thunder championship.
We headed to Darley Moor on the Friday afternoon and set-up in the "stars paddock". We did not plan to ride until the Sunday but wanted to spectate the "stars" on their Saturday test sessions (just like we planned last year before trouble struck). This year we managed to enjoy some spectating for a change and it was interesting to watch how some of Britain's fastest racers tackled the Darley Moor circuit. Unfortunately a continuous light rain drizzle put a dampener on any lap record speeds.
Onto Sunday race day and we were the first qualifying session out on track. The light rain drizzle on the Saturday stopped around 10pm but there was not enough heat or wind to dry the circuit in time for our qualifying session, which took place in damp conditions. The assembly area showed a mixture of wet and dry tyre choices - we opted for our Dunlop wets - and when the session started there was a lot of slow-moving traffic as the guys on dry tyres tried to figure out how much grip was available.
We circulated faster and faster until the notorious "Dunlop speed wobble" made an appearance. We thought that we had logged a laptime that was "in the ballpark" so pulled in with a couple of minutes remaining. On the last lap of the session a CB500 created a half-kilometer-long oil spill from the exit of the hairpin down to Paddock corner. Our qualifying time put us in 3rd position (0.03 of a second behind Stuart Hall and 0.10 of a second ahead of Jason Wilkes), with Joe Walton taking the pole. The CB500 oil spillage would take two hours to clean up, causing massive delays and shortening the planned 15-lap races down to only 10-laps each.
By the time our first race (Formula Darley) was called, the circuit was mainly dry. A fairly decent start put us into the first chicane in fourth position and we moved up a position at the hairpin by passing Suzuki-mounted Martin Robbins. At the start of lap three we passed Stuart Hall into the first chicane and then settled down to put in a series of consistent laps for the remainder of the relatively lonely race. On lap 9, Joe Walton experienced a mechanical issue and retired from the race, and then a mix-up with the display of the chequered flag saw the majority of the field complete 11 laps instead of the planned 10!
Similar to the situation at Round 5, we crossed the chequered flag behind Ross Richards on his Spondon-framed ER6. With Ross' machine not being eligible for the Formula Darley class, we took the win from Jason Wilkes in second place, with Stuart Hall coming home in third place. The unfortunate scenario of Joe Walton not scoring any points with Jason Wilkes taking 24 points for his second place finish meant that Jason Wilkes finishes the season 2nd overall in the Formula Darley championship. Congratulations Jason!
After a short break it was time for the season-finale of the Mini Sound of Thunder class. Unusually, there was also prize money on offer for the first three finishers - donated by JW Richards & Sons Service Station in memory of late Supertwin racer Jamie Hodson.
On the sighting lap, Sound of Thunder-rider Matthew Zschiesche crashed his Triumph 675 due to what we understand to be a cold front tyre. We believe that Matthew walked away uninjured - but if not, we hope you get well soon!
After a lengthy delay to clean up some spilled fluids, the race got underway. A good initial launch was soon halted by a rider directly in front of us who had a poor start. By the time we exited the first chicane we had dropped to 5th place in class. We pushed hard and by the end of lap two we had moved up to 4th in class by passing Martin Robbins, and then on lap four we managed to pass both Jason Wilkes and Joe Walton to take 2nd in class. Once in 2nd place, Joe Walton kept us honest and was never further than a second behind our rear wheel. We manage to keep 2nd place until the flag and finished just 0.13 of a second ahead of Joe Walton - which was enough to win the Mini Sound of Thunder championship.
Ross Richards won the race and in the process catapulted himself to third place in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship standings and Joe's fine finish to the season means that he has secured 2nd place in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship standings.
After the final round, the championship point tables look as follows:
FORMULA DARLEY - TOP 5
David Carson 119
Jason Wilkes 48
Joe Walton 43
Chris Moore 38
Stuart Hall 24
MINI SOUND OF THUNDER - TOP 5
David Carson 93
Joe Walton 75
Ross Richards 54
Jason Wilkes 41
Jack Petrie 29
Our championship successes this season mean that we have now won 10 club championships (5 on Aprilia RS152SP and 5 on Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin) across 4 different clubs (Auto 66, Wirral 100, NGRRC and Darley Moor). And that, most importantly, we get to attend the fabulous Darley Moor Awards Ceremony on Saturday 3rd February 2018.
After the event we also received some more fantastic news in that club photographer Tony Else had selected our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin to win an award for "Best Turned Out Bike" at the meeting :-)
Our 2018 plans are still yet to be decided, but we could not be any happier with what we have accomplished during the 2017 season...
* 2017 Darley Moor "Formula Darley" Club Champion
* 2017 Darley Moor "Mini Sound of Thunder" Club Champion
* 0.27 of a second knocked off our Darley Moor personal best lap (now a 1'01.22)
* Winner of the Stars at Darley "Best Turned Out Bike" award
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 Pomerol Partners for their continued support.
David Carson Jnr,