As a taster here are some of our favourite photos from the weekend - 4 on the Supersport machine and 4 on the Supertwin machine...
A selected number of photos from the NG Castle Combe meeting have been added to the website photos page. If you need more, then you will find the full set of 88 photos on our Facebook page, within the Photos from 2018 album.
As a taster here are some of our favourite photos from the weekend - 4 on the Supersport machine and 4 on the Supertwin machine...
That wonderful time of the year is upon us again - when it is time to visit Castle Combe for their annual Grand National motorcycle event. This is the third time that we have entered the event and it never fails to entertain and impress!
We headed off on our 168-mile journey from Northwich on the Friday morning and managed to set-up near what is becoming our "usual spot" by the scruitineering bay, ready for the two-day event that is run by NG Road Racing.
After the usual setup and scruitineering procedures had been done, we headed off for a look around the paddock at some of the "exotica" on offer...
An 08:40 practice session on the Kawasaki Supersport machine meant that we were out of bed nice and early on Saturday morning, with the Kawasaki Supertwin practice coming shortly afterwards.
We used the practice sessions to bed in new tyres and new brake pads and put in a best lap of 1’23.6. Our best ever lap around Castle Combe is a 1’20.1 - which was set on the Kawasaki Supertwin during our 2014 visit and then matched during our 2017 visit. So our target for the weekend was to finally break underneath the 1’20 barrier!
Out into the Supertwin qualifying session and we set a new Personal Best lap of 1’20.009 (not quite under the 1’20 barrier!) to take 16th place on the combined grid and took 6th place in the Supertwin class.
The Open 600 qualifying session was an amazing experience. The Kawasaki Supersport machine feels “just right” for Castle Combe - and going through the first corner flat out on the throttle stop in top gear and then watching the gear-change light flashing for a few seconds whilst heading towards turn two really gives a great sensation that you’re shifting! We set a 1’17.770 lap that qualified us in 21st place out of the 42-person grid (top half!), although worthy of note was that there were a number of British championship riders taking part in this event (because the British championship does not visit here) - including two former British champions!
It was now time for the races... At the start of the Supertwin race, we felt good so just kept on pushing harder and harder - and we smashed our 1’20 target and set a new Personal Best lap time of 1’18.798. We also picked up a 7th place finish in the Supertwins race.
The Open 600 race got going well but was red flagged on lap 2, which gave us the opportunity to drop one tooth from the rear sprocket (as we were bouncing off the rev limiter in top gear for many seconds!). After the restart, although the change helped slightly, we were still hitting the rev limiter for several seconds and maxing out at 143.0mph - so considered further gearing changes for Sunday’s races. Even though we were involved in a battle (so couldn’t put in a properly clean lap), we managed to reduce our 600 lap time down to 1’17.284 and finished 17th in the 600 race out of 35 finishers.
Onto Sunday and we had a further four races. Supertwin Race 2 was a solid race. We got down to 1’18.8 lap times (0.1 of a second from our Personal Best times) before the race was red flagged due to a fluid spill on lap 5. The race result was called at that point and we took 8th position in the Supertwins race.
Open 600 Race 2 was very interesting, with a CBR600RR rider highsiding out of turn three on the opening lap (fortunately everyone scattered to avoid him), before a ZX6R engine expired without the rider knowing on the second lap. The rider then completed a full lap of the circuit before the red flag was shown, and produced a smokescreen that James Bond would have been proud of! :-)
At the Open 600 Race 2 restart we got a great launch and were immediately into the groove and put in a new Personal Best lap of 1’15.867 and finished the race in 16th position - 0.8 of a second behind the final points scorer and only 0.007 of a second ahead of 17th place, after messing up the final chicane and having a battle around the last corner on the run the finish line...
The last 650 Supertwin race gave us mixed emotions. It was a solid race with a group of riders having a great battle, but in the group were a mix of different race classes which, this time, didn’t work in my favour. We put in another 1’18.8 lap but we were sure that given a bit of a clearer run that we could have gone slightly quicker... Nevermind! The race itself was fun regardless and only waved yellow flags in the final section of the final lap dampened the fun (as no overtaking is allowed). We finished in 6th place but 5th place was a possibility. And for a change - as we are usually the ones capturing video footage - we feature heavily in John Dudman's video (below) for the first six minutes or so.
The final race of the weekend was Open 600 Race 3. Unusually for this class this weekend, we actually managed to get our full 8 laps in! From the start we settled into a good rhythm and avoided most of the usual first-lap bumping and barging. During the race we set a new Personal Best of 1’15.095 (which we are delighted with!) and even had the rear tyre sliding and drifting on the exit of the third turn on numerous occasions - which is a new experience for us... As a bonus, we finished in 15th place, which gave us a championship point!
It was a fabulous weekend and we leave this event with more great memories of the Castle Combe circuit. Our next event, on Sunday 16th September, will be Darley Moor Round 6 - we'll see you then!
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.
David Carson Jnr,