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 :-)
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.
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 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.
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.