Here are some photos from the fourth and fifth Darley Moor meetings of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
It’s been 7 weeks since our last race meeting and during that time (the summer heatwave!) we swapped engines in the Kawasaki Supertwin multiple times, before finally installing the same engine that we ran at Darley Moor Round 3. The weather forecast for the weekend was hot and dry, so we were hoping to see some new Personal Best laps being set on each bike if all went well.
Heading up to Darley on the Friday afternoon, once setup we treated ourselves to some ice-cold Boddingtons bitter! This meeting also featured the return of former-Darley-champion Brad Vicars who was returning from injury and using the meeting to check that all was well with his recovery before his return to the Isle of Man and the Manx Grand Prix at the end of this month.
DARLEY MOOR ROUND 4
The promised warm weather arrived and it was both fantastic and a nightmare at the same time - such great weather to ride in but once you stopped it didn’t take long before you were drenched in sweat!
Out into the first (Mini Sound of Thunder) qualifying session we blew away some cobwebs and got quicker and quicker each lap, finally qualifying 2nd in class.
We were then straight out into the Formula 600 qualifying, where on the first flying lap Matt Zschiesche had a big crash on his Triumph 675 which brought out the red flag. Matt was generally OK but his bike unfortunately didn't fare as well.
Following the restart to the session we chipped away at our times and qualified 6th in the Formula 600 class.
Our first race of the Saturday was the Allcomers up-to-650cc race. We picked grid position 6 "out of the hat" and entered the first chicane in 4th position. On the opening lap we managed to pass Tony Griffiths and Alex Brawn to move behind leader Martin Robbins, then on lap two (of ten) we took the lead. From there it was quite a lonely eight laps to the end of the race where we took the win from Jason Wilkes, with Brad Vicars taking 3rd place.
Next up was the Peak Cup race which we entered for some extra track time. To our surprise we had qualified 7th place on the grid against a large collection of 1000cc bikes. After a decent race with some entertaining battles, we managed to bring our little Kawasaki Supersport 600 bike home in 8th place.
Our third race of the day was the Formula 600 race. A good start got us into 4th place and some solid and consistent laps meant that we managed to maintain that position until the finish. But when he results sheets were published we discovered that a jump start by Rich Baker (with an accompanying 10 second penalty) meant that we took the final podium spot of 3rd place, along with our first ever Formula 600 championship points!
Straight after the Formula 600 race had finished we hopped onto the Kawasaki Supertwin and started the Mini Sound of Thunder race. We ran in 2nd place all race and had a good battle with PreInjection rider Michael Wright. Despite putting in the fastest lap of the race at the end of the race, we were beaten to the flag by 1.37 seconds by Elliot Williams. We took 2nd place with Ian Robinson taking 3rd place.
Our fifth race of the day was Formula 600 race 2. Due to our 3rd place finish earlier in the day we started from the front row. But an over exuberant clutch release popped the front wheel into the air. A quick grab of the clutch and a second attempt at a race start put us into the first chicane in last place! But we worked hard to move through the pack and managed to gain another championship point for a 6th place finish - but more impressively we set the Fastest Lap of the race and we dipped under the one-minute barrier for our first time ever, with a laptime of 59.85!
Our final race on Saturday was Mini Sound of Thunder race 2, which was a cracker. After an OK start and a couple of passes on the opening lap, we found ourselves behind race-leader Elliot Williams but with a 2-second gap to bridge. After several good laps we found ourselves on Elliot’s back wheel. We then proceeded to have a battle for the win that would go down to the final corner of the final lap - with Elliot coming out on top by 0.26 of a second. We took 2nd place and Ian Robinson took the final podium spot.
DARLEY MOOR ROUND 5
Sunday provided more fantastic weather for racing and qualifying went well - we took 2nd place in class for the Mini Sound of Thunder race and 4th place in the Formula 600 class. Unfortunately, our fellow competitor Jason Wilkes suffered brake failure in one of the sessions and both bike and rider were too injured to continue - get well soon Jason!
Our first race on the Sunday was once again the Allcomers up-to-650cc race. After taking the lead on the opening lap, thanks to Ian Robinson attempting to highside out of Paddock corner, we put in some solid laps to take the win and fastest lap in the Allcomers race. Ian Robinson recomposed himself to take 2nd place, with Martin Robbins taking 3rd place.
Unfortunately the front-facing GoPro camera mount snapped on lap four of the race (at 3:47 in the video below), so we captured some more interesting shots - but that meant no more onboard videos would be captured this weekend...
Our second race was Formula 600 race 1. An OK start meant that we got caught in traffic. We progressed through the field at a decent rate until we caught David Shallcross who has a quick bike and is great on the brakes, which makes him very tough to pass! But during the final laps we managed to sneak through into 5th place and we set a new Personal Best lap of 59.80 on the final lap of the race!
Directly following the Formula 600 race was Mini Sound of Thunder race 1, which was red flagged at the first attempt following a highside by an R1-rider on the opening lap. At the restart we got caught up with PreInjection-rider Tim Walshaw had a good battle with Ian Robinson for 2nd place in our class. In the end we managed to secure 2nd place, with Elliot Williams taking another win.
When the second Formula 600 race started, we only managed a lap before the red flag was out due to a nasty crash for Carl Booth which resulted in pelvis injuries - get well soon Carl!
After a short break the race restarted and we settled into 4th place, which is where we remained for the entire race. We managed to cling onto some of the leading pack and on the final lap we set another new Personal Best lap of 59.73!
As is now the usual, we were once again out straight away in the second Mini Sound of Thunder race, where again we had a battle for 2nd place with Ian Robinson. At the chequered flag, Elliot Williams took the win, we took 2nd place and Ian Robinson finished in 3rd place.
On reflection, we think that this weekend has been fantastic and we feel like we are riding well. Despite not winning everything we entered, we ensured that we gave it our all - and that’s all we can do!
With five (out of seven) championship rounds now complete, we are currently 2nd in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship and 9th in the Formula 600 championship.
MINI SOUND OF THUNDER CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 5)
Elliot Williams 76
David Carson 48
Ian Robinson 21
Richard Stubbs 12
Jason Wilkes 12
FORMULA 600 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 10)
Jamie Pearson 39
Carl Booth 28
Lloyd Shelley 27
Chris Sammons 27
Rich Baker 26
Matt Zschiesche 22
Stephen Parsons 18
Scott Stevens 11
David Carson 10
David Shallcross 9
Our remaining race meetings for the season are:
* NG Road Racing club at Castle Combe on Saturday/Sunday 1st-2nd September
* Darley Moor Round 6 on Sunday 16th September
* Darley Moor Round 7 (including the "Stars at Darley" races) on Saturday/Sunday 6th-7th October
If you attend any of these race meetings, please come over and say Hi! :-)
Here are some photos from the third Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Our journey to Darley Moor Round 3 began a couple of hours after Dave Jnr's transatlantic flight from New York City landed! With the team rider back on home soil, it was time to load up make the 51-mile journey to the circuit. Travelling on the Saturday meant that we could once again get the necessary formalities of signing on and scruitineering out of the way, before it was time for Dave Snr to settle down in the caravan and watch the World Cup.
But before we talk any more about racing, here are a couple of photos of Kate - the team's newest member!
As per previous events, we had back-to-back qualifying sessions with the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying taking place as the very first session of the day, followed directly by the Formula 600 qualifying. But new for this weekend was taking part in back-to-back championship races - as the Mini Sound of Thunder races directly followed the Formula 600 races at this meeting.
We qualified in 2nd place in the Mini Sound of Thunder class and qualified in 6th (out of 28) in the Formula 600 class - our best result so far on the Kawasaki Supersport machine.
Our first race was the Allcomers race where grid slots are chosen at random - we picked 2nd which was a great (albeit lucky) selection! A good start put us into 3rd place entering Wilsons chicane. On the opening lap we passed Martin Robbins to take 2nd place and then on lap 2 we passed Jamie Edwards to take the leading position.
We managed to retain the lead until lap 5 when we were caught and passed by Ross Richards. The podium-placed rider positions then remained the same until the end of the 10-lap race. Ross Richards took the win, we secured 2nd place (and the accompanying trophy) with Jamie Edwards taking the final podium spot.
During the Allcomers race we noticed that the left-hand handlebar position felt uncomfortable - and on return to the paddock we realised that it had become slightly loose and had managed to rotate backward towards us! A quick realignment and the bike was ready to go again.
Another, more worrying, issue was that by end of lap 8 Dave Jnr was suffering from exhaustion and felt completely drained of energy - which we attributed to Jet Lag finally catching up with him. We decided to skip the Peak Cup races to "fuel the rider" and make sure that he was in tip-top condition for the Formula 600 and Mini Sound of Thunder championship-points races.
The first of the Formula 600 races had three attempts at running. On the first attempt, a crash at the hairpin on the opening lap caused the 8-lap race to be red-flagged. At the restart, which was reduced to 7-laps, David Shallcross highsided coming out of Park corner on lap 1 which brought out another red-flag. Fortunately, neither rider was badly injured and the third attempt of the race start got away OK.
Our start (from 6th on the grid) wasn't great and at the end of lap 1 we were sitting in 10th position. By the end of lap 2 we had moved up to 9th position and then by the end of lap 3 we had moved up to 8th position (and set a new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.32). By the end of lap 5 we had closed a gap to a group of riders ahead (and set another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.28). On lap 6 we moved up another position and on the last lap we and set yet another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.11 and crossed the finishing line in our best-ever result of 7th position, 2.30 seconds behind the final points scoring rider of Gary Hutchinson.
The Mini Sound of Thunder race was straight after the Formula 600 race, so we rushed around the slowdown lap to return to the paddock, where Dave Snr was waiting with the Kawasaki Supertwin. After carefully leaning the Kawasaki Supersport machine against the fence, we headed back out onto the starting grid. On the warm-up lap there was yet more action when one of the PreInjection riders ran into the rear of a Mini Sound of Thunder rider on the Pope straight and fell.
At the start of the race we slipped into 3rd position in class, before overtaking Elliot Williams on the opening lap and then catching up to race-leader Ross Richards. Us three leading Mini Sound of Thunder riders then got caught within a battle behind some of the PreInjection riders, which limited our ability to carry corner-speed and therefore limited our laptimes. It was a close but frustrating race, but at the chequered flag Ross Richards took the win, Elliot Williams took 2nd place and we finished in 3rd place (just 0.22 of a second behind).
Before the second Formula 600 race there was a slight sprinkling of "mental rain" but the track was still 99% dry. A great start put us into 4th position into the first chicane. We managed to retain our 4th position until the end of lap 3 when Chris Sammons came by. On lap 4 Andy Barber then came passed and relegated us to 5th position. We circulated in 5th position for a few more laps until we were caught by Jamie Horner on lap 7. We managed to stay with Jamie and Andy until the flag but were unable to make a pass and crossed the line in 7th position (only 0.50 of a second behind 5th position). This is great news as it shows that we are starting to challenge for points - but unfortunately, our first-ever Formula 600 championship point eluded us on this occasion!
Once the Formula 600 race was over, we once again rushed back to the paddock and swapped onto our 650cc Supertwin machine and headed straight onto the Mini Sound of Thunder grid.
An average start meant that we got caught up with some other Mini Sound of Thunder traffic that hindered our ability to carry the cornerspeed that we wanted through the chicanes. But on lap 6 we were finally able to make an overtaking maneuver and make use of some clear track, immediately dropping 0.75 of a second from our lap time! Putting in a couple of decent laps, we were able to chase down race-leader Elliot Williams and at Townleys on lap 7 (of 8) we managed to take the lead. It wasn't to last long though, as by the end of the Pope Straight on the same lap Elliot returned the favour and re-took the lead going into Paddock corner.
Starting the final lap, Elliot then took a lot of kerb on the exit of the Wilsons chicane which affected his drive down towards Park corner. With only a few corners at Darley Moor, we took the opportunity to attempt a block pass, which was a bit scruffy but clean. For the remainder of the lap we kept our head down and crossed the line to take our first Mini Sound of Thunder victory of the 2018 season! We later learned that heading into Park corner on that final lap, Elliot changed down one gear too many, which allowed Jamie Edwards to come through and finish in 2nd place, with Elliot crossing the line in 3rd place.
Our next race meeting will be the Darley Moor double-header on Saturday & Sunday 4th/5th August.
Here are some photos from the second Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
With Dave Snr spending the weekend at the Spanish MotoGP round and Lorna recently giving birth to the team's newest member, Dave Jnr travelled to Darley Moor alone to setup our simplified paddock space and to get scrutineered and signed-on. After setting up, Dave Jnr walked the track with Joe Walton and Jason Wilkes to steal any 'fast lap secrets' that they were hiding.
After noise testing our Kawasaki Supertwin, we were out in the first two qualifying sessions of the day. Up first was the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying session and as usual there was a lot of traffic to contend with. We managed to find a clear lap and qualified in 5th place, before ending the session early so we could take our Kawasaki Supersport for noise testing and then straight onto track - where we qualified in 9th position for the Formula 600 race.
Our first race of the day was the 10-lap Allcomers (up to 650cc) race. Grid positions were picked out of the hat and we 'chose averagely' to start from 9th place on the grid - but the random nature of the grid selection actually meant that most of the front row of the grid was empty - as no-one selected them!
A good start put us into 2nd position at the first chicane, directly behind Simon Edmondson. Into the final corner on the opening lap we made a move and took the lead. Putting in a series of good laps, we managed to post the fastest lap of the race and then won the race by 6.78 seconds at the chequered flag.
Behind us, Jason Wilkes was running in 2nd place until he crashed at Park corner on lap 4. At the flag, MCN senior road tester Adam Child finished in 2nd place, with Simon Edmondson 23.63 seconds behind and taking the final podium position.
As you can see on the video below (at 5:04) the front-facing camera decided to break during the race! This provided an interesting and alternative view of the race which I left in for a couple of minutes. But for those of you with sea-sickness, you'll be glad to hear that by 7:03 I revert to the rear camera view only :-)
The next race was the Peak Cup, which we used for some extra practice on the Kawasaki Supersport machine. Like at the previous event, we got stuck in battles with some of the slower 1000cc riders again, so the race was a bit frustrating but we felt that we were riding well.
After a short break, we headed out for the Formula 600 race. Straight away we felt good and dropped to lap times that were close to our Personal Best on the bike. At the end of the opening lap we were in 11th place, then we managed to pass a couple of our competitors to finish the race in 9th position (out of 28 finishers) which is our best finish so far. Our fastest lap of 1'00.76 was posted on the final lap, which is slightly slower than our 1'00.60 Personal Best time that was set at the previous event.
The fourth race of the day was the Mini Sound of Thunder race, which was combined on the grid with the PreInjection up to 1300cc class. Starting the race from 14th position on the combined grid, we had a messy start. A missed downshift at the hairpin on the opening lap meant for a slow start to the race and we crossed the line in 4th position (in class) at the end of the opening lap, which was 1.15 seconds behind Rich Stubbs in 3rd place.
The pace of the race seemed to be really slow and we bridged the gap to 3rd place easily within half a lap. At the end of lap 2, our class leader was only 3 seconds ahead of us and we knew we could go 1.5 seconds per lap quicker, so tried to get our head down and see whether we could catch up. But on lap 3, the race was red flagged after Rich Stubbs and Darren Spruce tangled entering Townleys corner. The crash looked quite serious and we hope that both of them will make a full recovery soon!
Darren was airlifted to hospital whilst Rich was taken to a different hospital by road. After a lengthy delay, the organisers decided not to re-run the race and the race result was called after 3 laps. Elliott Williams was declared the winner, with Adam Child in 2nd and we were awarded 3rd place.
Due to the Mini Sound of Thunder stoppage delay (along with a number of delays through the day), the organisers took the decision to abandon the meeting after the first half of the race calendar had been completed.
In 2018 so far there have been many positives - a race win on the Kawasaki Supertwin, continually improving results on the Kawasaki Supertsport & some good (but not great) lap times being posted. After looking at the datalogging, it appears that part of the missing time is due to weather/machine performance and part of the missing time is due to carrying lower speed through the chicanes - something to focus on at the next meeting!
We have a bit of a break now, due to the Isle of Man TT, but our next race event will be at Darley Moor Round 3 on Sunday 17th June - where hopefully we can get back into consistent podium positions on the Kawasaki Supertwin and hopefully we can finally score some championship points on the Kawasaki Supersport machine (which will require a top 6 finish).
David Carson Jnr,