On Saturday 12th November, the awards presentation evening for the 2022 NG Road Racing club championships took place. The room was packed with 200+ attendees and it was a fantastic evening that everyone enjoyed.
Back in 2014 we won the NG Supertwins championship, so it was nice to be awarded the trophy again "only" 8 years later - which was presented to us by Steve Plater.
We collected a raft of trophies from the event. For the next year we will get to look after the perpetual trophy (which now features our name twice!), along with a glass championship trophy that we'll get to keep. We also received a special trophy thanks to series-sponsor Colin Hill from Hairy Beast Pix, which is truly awesome to admire!
With celebrations carrying on beyond 2am on the Sunday morning, a bit of recovery time was required - which is why this update is later than it probably should have been... ;-)
Preparations have already started for the 2023 season - as on the way home from the event we went helmet shopping! This week, the Kawasaki Supersport machine was also delivered to MSS Performance to have an engine refresh. Things are moving along nicely! :-)
Now that the season has come to a close, we have been able to take a look back at 2022 and to summarise the achievements that have been made - in our most successful season ever!
We will start by highlighting the final championship results, which were:
These fantastic achievements mean that we have now earned 25 "end of year" trophies (which includes 14 club championship trophies) from five different organisations:
During the year we added to our tally of race wins, adding another 28 wins to reach a new total of 139 club race wins throughout our entire career!
Drilling down into the statistics a bit further - during 2022 we:
Throughout the season we also managed to break some Darley Moor race records (as well as our own personal records - more on those later!):
Other interesting stats/highlights:
Taking a look back to our pre-season goals, where we advised that "the stopwatch will be the gauge of our success" - this is how we have performed:
We have had a fantastic time this season (both on and off track) so if possible, we would like to compete in both the NG Road Racing and Darley Moor championships once again in the 2023 season!
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, Sam Pointon and Jason Sedgwick for their support.
Here are some photos from the final rounds of the Darley Moor championships, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
It was time for another of our season highlights - it was "Stars at Darley" weekend! We were honoured to be invited to be part of the 'main event' for the fourth time in our lengthy career - and were eager to see whether we could match (or even beat) our previous best finishing position of 11th place overall.
So immediately after finishing work we headed across to the circuit. As we approached the sky got darker and the road got wetter... When we arrived at the circuit, the paddock was an inch deep in water! Regardless, we unpacked what we needed so that we could get the scrutineering and sign-on tasks out of the way for the weekend.
Saturday - Round 7
We got up early and spent around half an hour brushing out the "private pool" from our awning, then setup for the weekend ahead. We knew we would have long days ahead, with a possible 10 sessions on track on Saturday and 9 sessions on the Sunday. In the end we decided to do "just" the essentials, which removed one session per day.
The Formula 600 Qualifying session was the first session of the day. With no further rain forecast for the weekend and the ground drying quickly, we thought that by the time the 10am session arrived that only damp spots would have remained on track - we were wrong! We headed out and the circuit was more wet than dry - but we were on dry tyres. We were passed by riders on wet tyres and let them go, then passed by riders on dry tyres and considered trying to hang onto them, but we just weren't "feeling it" - we went as fast as we were prepared to go, but qualified poorly in 14th out of 23.
There was a wait of over an hour before out next session, Twins Qualifying, and the track was now almost dry. We still weren't feeling it but hoped that putting in a decent number of laps would help - especially as directly after Twins qualifying was the Stars qualifying (and then we had a race immediately after that - three sessions in a row!). We headed out and put in a time that we thought should be good enough for the front row. It was and we qualified 2nd on the grid behind Andy Whale.
Out into Stars Qualifying and our head still wasn't really in it, but we put in a reasonable lap time of 59.49 which put us 18th of the 29 qualifiers. Our lap time was 112% of Richard Cooper's pole time, but fortunately we were given permission to start the race. On return to the paddock we discovered that the camera batteries had both expired - it looks like our old 2014 GoPro cameras didn't like being charged a week prior to the event, so they were removed and popped on charge...
We were now into the races and the first was Allcomers. We drew position 22 'out of the hat', which was possibly a blessing in disguise - as it gave us a bit of a kick up the ass! We managed to finish the opening lap in 3rd position, before moving past Ian Robinson on lap 2. By the end of lap 5 we overtook Albert Walker and took the lead. From there we put in some consistent laps and won the race, just 0.30 of a second outside of the race record! Andy Whale didn't manage to finish the race but did set the fastest lap - with a fantastic lap time of 1:00.35!
We started Formula 600 Race 1 from an unusually low grid position and at the end of the opening lap were in 10th position. We moved forward one position per lap for the next 4 laps, into 6th place, then on the final lap made another pass to cross the line in 5th position! Our best lap in the race was a 59.59 and we were still having trouble getting into the swing of things - we were thinking that maybe our mind had already moved into the off-season a bit prematurely...
Next up was Twins Race 1 where we were greeted with another poor start! Crossing the line in 3rd place at the end of lap 1 we started to chase down Ian Robinson and race-leader Albert Walker. We moved into 2nd place on lap 3, then into the lead on lap 4 (of 8). After putting in a couple of solid laps we took a look behind on the exit of Park corner and saw that we had some space, which relaxed us a bit, so we could just focus on hitting our markers.
With a clear run we managed to set a new Twins Personal Best lap time of 1:00.35, followed by a fantastic record-breaking 59.86 lap time on the final lap! We won the race and became the first-ever "Twins" racer to lap Darley Moor in under a minute! We were finally back in the groove!! :-)
It was now time for the main event - "Stars at Darley" Race 1. We got a good start and had a clean opening lap, circulating in the 58-second bracket for the majority of the laps. At the end of our lap 10, race leader Richard Cooper came past, followed by Leon Jeacock on our final lap. We crossed the line in 13th place (5th 600cc machine).
The GoPro batteries had now charged, so onboard race videos are available from this point forward! Into Formula 600 Race 2 and a good start saw us enter the Wilsons chicane in 4th place. For the entire race we circulated (and finished) in 4th place, albeit in the battle for 2nd-4th, finishing 1.28 of a second behind 2nd-placed Richard Wardle and 3rd-placed Liam Weston. Jake Hopper took the win. Surprisingly, we got a little trophy for our finishing position, but more importantly we managed to secured 2nd position in the 2022 Formula 600 championship! :-)
Our final race of the day was Twins Race 2. Starting from pole position, Albert Walker beat us to the Wilsons chicane. We tailed Albert for a couple of laps before making a move into Paddock corner on lap 2. Our move was on the brakes and when we downshifted to 2nd the rear tyre broke loose, pushing us wide, which also apparently pushed Albert wide (sorry!). From there we put in a series of clean laps to take the win!
At the end of a busy day we prepared both bikes for the Sunday races, charged the GoPro cameras(!) and then had an early night.
Sunday - Round 8
Sunday morning was very relaxing (due to no sound testing, scrutineering, etc) and the sun even made an appearance! Once again we were the first qualifying session of the day, in the Formula 600 class, but this time we were able to 'get straight on it' and we qualified 2nd on the grid. The same was true in the Twins qualifying where we managed to set pole position!
Out into the Allcomers Race we managed to get a better pick 'out of the hat' and started from 12th on the grid. We got a great start and entered the Wilsons chicane in 4th position. Albert Walker got the holeshot but entered a little too hot and ran across the grass, which slowed down the pack enough for us to move into the lead into Park corner on the opening lap. From there we had a clear race and didn't meet any backmarkers in the chicanes, which meant that when we crossed the line to take the win we had broken the race record by nearly 7 seconds (6.98 seconds to be precise)!
Formula 600 Race 1 was up next. Another great start meant that we retained our 2nd position into the chicane. We then kept with race leader Jake Hopper throughout the entire race, but were never within a position to attempt a move. Every flying lap was in the 58-second bracket! At the chequered flag, Jake Hopper took the win, we finished in 2nd position just 0.38 of a second behind and Richard Wardle took the final podium spot.
Our run of great starts was about to come to an end... Starting from pole position in Twins Race 1 we had an awful start due to releasing too much initial clutch and bogging the engine. We recovered to enter the chicane in 6th position, but with many fast riders in the race (who were riding quickly), we knew we would have our work cut out to recover from here. First on our radar was Anthony Thane, who we managed to nip past into Park corner on the opening lap - leaving Ian Robinson, Albert Walker, Jim Hodson and Andy Whale remaining on our hit list.
We managed to pass Ian and Albert on the opening lap to move up to 3rd position and then set after Jim. By lap 3 were had caught up to Jim, so we made a move into Park corner - the pass was successful but on corner exit the Traction Control kicked in and limited our drive (a problem which would plague us later in the day), allowing Jim to repass us on the approach to the back esses. We made another move at Townleys exit/Haripin entry and managed to stay ahead until the end of the lap.
At this point, there was a 4.04 second gap to race-leader Andy and only 5 laps remaining... By the hairpin on the final lap we managed to catch Andy, but were unable to beat him to the line. Andy took a fine win, we finished in 2nd place just 0.21 behind at the flag, with Albert Walker taking third place. During the race we managed to put in another lap under the 1-minute, with a 59.87.
"Stars at Darley" Race 2 most certainly was not one of our quickest races, but it certainly was entertaining! Starting from a lowly grid spot, we got a decent start but on the opening laps got swamped on the straights by the 1000cc/1100cc bikes of Jack Keeton and David Glossop - which developed into a 4-rider battle along with Kaine Sheriff (behind us), with us gaining and loosing time depending on the track characteristics.
Our race was slower than the Saturday Stars race, meaning that leaders Richard Cooper and Leon Jeacock came past earlier in the race, but third placed John McGuinness still didn't lap us. One final flap we managed to nip past David Glossop and finished the race in 11th position. This gave us a Personal Best finish of 10th in the aggregate standings (and also some prize money!).
After a short break (about 15 minutes!) we were back out on the Kawasaki Supersport machine in Formula 600 Race 2. We had a lightning start and managed to get the holeshot into the Wilsons chicane (which is a true rarity for us in this class!). It felt great to lead the race but we knew that the others would be close behind - and sure enough at the end of the Pope straight on the opening lap, as soon as we hit the brakes, Richard Wardle's red machine came flying by... And then went wide, allowing us to retake the lead and cross the line - being officially classified as the leaders! :-)
We managed to retain the lead for the second lap too, but on lap 3 Jake Hopper came past into Paddock corner - despite our best efforts to outbrake him. From here until the end of the race, Jake retained a lead of around a second over us and Richard was continually glued to our rear wheel! At the end of the race, Jake took another win, we took another 2nd place and Richard took another 3rd place.
The final race of the meeting (and the season) was Twins Race 2. We had a great initial launch, but then selected Neutral, which put us back to 5th position into the chicane. However, the pack was quite densely packed at Park corner, so we thought we were in a good position. At Park corner on lap 2 we were able to make a double-pass on the brakes, but on the corner exit the Traction Control cut in heavily - allowing Ian Robinson to drive past us on the approach to the back esses. This was the start of our nightmare of a race, where the Aprilia's electronics package was intermittently deciding when to give us power and when to otherwise heavily apply the Traction Control and restrict power delivery...
Throughout the race we tried to play with onboard settings in an attempt to workaround the issue, but the situation became so bad that we decided to retire from the race - and suffer our first "DNF" for many seasons!
Initially we thought that the heavily-worn rear tyre may have been slipping too much for the TC algorithms to deal with - but looking at the data capture it appears that the issue may instead lie with the front wheel speed (or front wheel speed sensor/ring - but there is no visible damage to those).
The screenshot of the data capture below shows a normal (red) lap versus a lap (blue) when the issue occurred. Despite a similar GPS Speed, Throttle opening and Rear Wheel Speed - the Front Wheel Speed registered as low as 1 mph. We believe that the difference in wheel speeds is what provoked the Traction Control to intervene and to result in the behaviour that we were experiencing. More investigation will be required...
Aside from that final race, this season has been a fantastic experience and we have achieved more than we ever thought possible coming into this year. We will do a further post regarding our personal summary of the season very soon!
With all races now completed in the 2022 Darley Moor championships, the final standings look as follows:
Twins Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 90
2nd - Ian Robinson 50
3rd - Patrick Lord 40
4th - Ben Wilkinson 35
5th - Jim Hodson 32
Formula 600 Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - Ben Dale 73
2nd - David Carson 63
3rd - Jake Hopper 50
4th - Liam Weston 31
5th - Richard Cooper 30
Here are some photos from the final round of the NG Road Racing championships, taken by official photographer Colin Hill...
We hadn't visited the Anglesey circuit since 2014 due to a restriction put in place by "Mrs Carson", as the previous two visits to the track resulted in visits to Bangor hospital with broken bones! We arrived on the Thursday evening to setup and whilst setting up Dave Snr picked up a knee injury - so it was off to Bangor hospital we went... Fortunately that was our last hospital visit in this particular trip :-)
For this meeting we decided to combine awnings and setup as a group, along with fellow racers Daniel Nurrish and Richard Wardle. Dave Snr had treated himself for the weekend and was sleeping in a rented motorhome from Conwy Motorhome Hire.
Friday Test Day
Unexpectedly, it rained overnight. When we awoke it was wet but drying quickly, so we decided to give the opening session a miss, as there was no daytime rain planned for the weekend.
In session 2 we went out on the Aprilia RS660 and were surprised by how tight and twisty the circuit was - as our memory of the track was that it was open and flowing. For session 3 we decided to follow and video Daniel Nurrish to see whether the footage could help Daniel to improve.
After the lunch break we then went out on Kawasaki ZX6R, which seemed a lot more hectic but the lap time was not much quicker. By the end of the test day we had got down to a 1:15.2 lap time, which we were happy with.
After quick bit of "admin" (scrutineering and signing on), a bite to eat, and prep of the bikes for Saturday - we then went for track walk. It was surprising to see the camber that certain sections had - which wasn't easily visible when riding - as well as feeling the available grip underfoot. Anglesey is known as a grippy circuit and it's now apparent that it loves to destroy knee sliders!
Saturday Race Day
We had a practice session on each bike, then headed into qualifying. As expected, we were getting quicker every time we went out. In the Open 600 session, we qualified 7th in class (8th on combined grid) with a 1:13.864 lap. Shortly afterwards we headed out in the Supertwin session and set a lap time of 1:14.718 which was quickest in the session until Mark Hughes put in a 1:14.700 (just 0.018 of a second quicker!) on his final lap. We would start from 5th place on the combined grid (2nd in class).
Our first race was Open 600 Race 1. As expected, when the lights went out the pace was hot from the start. We spent the first part of the race behind Bevan Plumley, until we made a move on lap 5 and put in a series of solid laps to finish in 7th place. We set a new Personal Best Lap of 1:13.696 on the final lap.
Our only other race on Saturday was Supertwins Race 1. After an initial strong start the race was red flagged due to a crash and oil spillage at Peel corner. The race was re-run over 6 laps. We got a decent start and managed to move past Mark Hughes into The Banking on the opening lap. From there we set our sights on racers in the other classes - making a move on PI600-racer Thomas Pickford, then later a move on Honda-SP1-mounted Nick Williamson. Brian Greenfield had cleared off up front but the four of us were having a battle for 2nd-overall on track. At the end of the shortened race, we managed to finish 2nd on track and won the Supertwin class by 0.971 of a second from Mark Hughes. Steve Moody came home in third place. Once again we set our fast lap on the final lap - with a new Supertwin Personal Best lap of 1:13.886.
Sunday Race Day
We decided to head out on the Aprilia RS660 for the morning warmup - which had mixed classes in and we thought was quite busy. It was only when we saw the results sheet and learned that we were the fastest rider by over 2 seconds that we realised why! We then went to watch Richard Wardle and Daniel Nurrish who were in the following warmup session, but both riders decided to pull in early, so we didn't get to see much. It turned out that Richard lost a brake pad pin (along with a couple of pads), so was lucky to survive unscathed. As we had the same thing happen to us at Cadwell Park, we had some spare so lent one to Richard so that he could continue his day.
The first race of the day was Open 600 Race 2. After a good start to the race put us in a decent position, we pushed on hard but had a couple of minor slides in the opening laps and the bike was feeling loose. We thought we were lapping slowly but a quick glance at the onboard laptimer mid-race showed that we were going faster than ever before! We weren't in a position to comfortably push any harder, so decided to attempt to maintain our pace until the flag. This worked well and no-one caught us. Coming into the last corner on the last lap we saw that Richard Wardle had crashed, which elevated us to 5th position in class at the chequered flag. During the race we set a new Personal Best Lap of 1:13.357.
Soon afterwards was Supertwins Race 2. This was a fun race, with us racing with other classes and crossing the line in 2nd place overall. We won the Supertwin race by 19.180 seconds from Steve Moody, with Edward Giles taking the final podium spot. Our best lap of 1:14.144 was slightly slower than in the Saturday race.
We were now into the lunchbreak and Richard was attempting to repair his machine in time for the final Open 600 race of the season. It turned out that he and Scott Keys were both in a position to secure 2nd position in the championship, so this would be an important race for him. Richard's spares kit was missing a few parts so we lent him a rearset assembly to use with his shift rod and quickshifter. A few bolts needed to be purchased from the paddock spares man - but the bike was working again, albeit the gearshift rod looked very close to the rearset bracket. Richard took a slow tour around the paddock to ensure that all gears could be selected - and it all looked good! And after Daniel Nurrish made a modification to the paddock stand mechanism, tyre warmers could be then be fit to Richard's machine.
Richard then sat in the corner and tried to work out every possible permutation to see where he would need to finish - made more difficult by the fact that he would have to start the race from the back of the grid...
Out into 10-lap Open 600 Race 3 and we got a fantastic start and moved into 5th position. As we were in such a great position we pushed as hard as we could but were over-riding and before long our hands started to ache as we were holding on for dear life... We knew that sooner or later Richard would be coming by, so kept our eyes peeled for an angry fast bloke on a red bike! Sure enough it only took until lap 3 for Richard to appear and just as he came past Scott Keys unfortunately crashed at the fast Church corner (note: we spoke to Scott later and he was unhurt thankfully).
On lap 3 Mark Walker also came past us, relegating us to 6th position. We took a quick look behind to see if there was a queue of other racers behind but there was some clear space - which allowed us to relax just a little - and we were able to recompose ourselves and put in some quick laps once again. By mid-race Ricard was suffering from some issues with downshifts, so backed off the pace, which allowed us to retake 5th position in the race - which we kept to the flag! We were happy with our fastest lap of 1:13.858 during the race. On return to the paddock, our awning filled with smoke when Richard did a burnout to celebrate securing the "vice-champion" position.
We had just one race left for the weekend - Supertwins Race 3. We had managed to avoid incident all weekend, so decided to play it safe for the final race and try to avoid trouble. The race started and we went too slow, becoming involved in battles with riders we hadn't raced with all weekend, so decided to pick up pace and to get into some clear space.
The sun was shining and the views out to sea were magnificent - but the Traction Control was intervening at both Peel corner and Church corner, which slowed us down (both mentally and physically). At the end of 10 laps, we won the race by 14.325 seconds. Steve Moody finished in second and Edward Giles took the final podium spot. Our fastest lap was 1:14.029.
It was a great weekend for all of the riders in our awning, as Daniel Nurrish made massive leaps forward with his lap times and also obtained his first points-scoring (and Top 10) finishes of the NG season! We also received an award from Colin Hill for the "Rider of the Round" at Castle Combe, which was lovely to receive.
With the NG Road Racing season coming to a close, the final standings look as follows. We are super happy that we managed to secure a Top 10 finish in the Open 600 championship standings - finishing the year in 7th place:
NG "SMW Ltd Supertwin" Final Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 378
2nd - Edward Giles 245
3rd - Steve Moody 217
4th - William Holland 90
5th - Paul Williams 75
NG "IMS Open 600" Final Championship Standings (Top 8)
1st - George Edwards 381
2nd - Richard Wardle 217
3rd - Scott Key 196
4th - Shane Faber 150
5th - James Bull 148
6th - Lewis Jones 115
7th - David Carson 110
8th - Ross Walker 98
Our next race event will be the last of our season - the prestigious "Stars at Darley" event, incorporating Rounds 7 & 8 of the club championships. As a reminder, the Darley Moor championship standings look as follows - with a maximum of 30 points in each championship still available:
Darley Moor "700cc Twins" Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 75
2nd - Ian Robinson 34
2nd - Patrick Lord 34
4th - Ben Wilkinson 28
5th - Chris Barton 22
5th - Eddy Wormald 22
Darley Moor "Formula 600" Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - Ben Dale 73
2nd - David Carson 43
3rd - Richard Cooper 30
4th - Stephen Parsons 27
5th - Albert Walker 22
David Carson Jnr,