With a test day the day before the race meeting, it was a good opportunity to test the changes made over the winter, as well as to get some track time and get warmed up for the race meeting. Throughout the test day, I managed to get comfortable on the bike and put in a fastest lap of 1'03.56, which was suitably close to my personal best lap of 1'03.19 for me to feel prepared for the race day ahead.
With the clocks 'springing forward' overnight, we awoke to a slightly chilly but dry morning. With the mandatory exhaust noise test out of the way, we were the first out on track to qualify for the Formula Darley races. Our qualifying session had been combined with the classic machine classes (some of which had fastest qualifying laps of 1'31.97) which meant that getting in a clean lap proved difficult - but on the very final lap I managed to get a clear run and lapped in 1'04.03 to put me 2nd on the Formula Darley grid.
The Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying took place 14 minutes later and allowed the opportunity to string some proper clear laps together, eventually putting in a new personal best lap of 1'03.12 that placed me 4th in the Mini Sound of Thunder class (8th overall on the combined starting grid). Although happy with the 1'03.12 lap, I was on an even quicker lap, with the dashboard showing 0.19 of a second below the 1'03.12, but I was unfortunately held up at the last corner so couldn't keep that advantage to the line. It did, however, indicate that a lap in the 1.02 second bracket may be possible once we got into the races.
Starting from the 2nd place grid position in the first Formula Darley race, a poor start led to me entering the first chicane in 7th place. I managed to pass Johnathan Trezins and Michael Brookes early in the race to take 5th place in an otherwise lonely race. The clear track did provide the opportunity to lap quickly and I managed to set a new personal best lap of 1'02.95, followed a few laps later by another new personal best lap of 1'02.84.
The saying of "you're never too old to learn" comes to mind when thinking back to the start of the first Mini Sound of Thunder race. The start lights were on and off so fast that I had barely put the bike into gear when the race had started! I battled hard to regain what I could from the race and set another new personal best lap of 1'02.72 on my way to 6th place in the race.
Mini Sound of Thunder Race 2 was a great and fun race. A three-way battle for 4th place formed between Joshua Dransfield, Paul Turner and myself (with Anthony Porter just ahead of us in 3rd place). With close racing and positions changing all the way until the last lap, this will be a good onboard video to watch! I managed to win the battle and take the 4th place, setting another new personal best lap of 1'02.42 on the last lap of the race!
After Round 1 (of 7), we are placed in joint 4th place in the Mini Sound Of Thunder championship and 5th place in Formula Darley championship. With six rounds still remaining, there is still plenty left to play for! But before then, we have Round 2 of the NG Supertwin championship at Oulton Park this coming weekend (5th April).
And for those of you who read the previous post and might be wondering what my 'ideal racing line' around Darley Moor would look like... Here it is! :-)