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!
David Carson Jnr,