Here are some photos from Darley Moor Rounds 7 & 8 (including the "Stars" races), taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
The moment that we had been waiting for had finally arrived... it was "Stars at Darley" weekend!
Checking out the entry list for the Stars race was interesting, as we spotted our name on the entry list despite not officially entering - but we were happy with the opportunity to try and beat our previous best finishing result of 17th place achieved in 2018.
We set off nice and early so that we could secure our usual paddock spot, but when we arrived (around 2.30pm) the majority of the Stars paddock was ribboned off - but we got our spot! After setting up, getting scrutineered and signed on, we spent the remainder of the beautiful evening chatting to a variety of people.
Saturday Race Day
We arose from our bed and ventured out at 7am to find the ground wet and fog lingering. The weather forecast leading up to the weekend was for two beautifully dry days, so our initial thought was that this would burn off, so we decided to just leave the dry tyres in. We had a run of sessions where we were out in 5 out of 6 sessions, which would end with the Allcomers Race. Eventually, about 30 minutes before our first session, some light rain arrived - so we had no option but to quickly swap over to wets.
After a quick set of wheel swaps we were left in a hot, sweaty, steaming mess - just check out the video below for an unusual sight!
Out into the practice sessions and wet tyres were most definitely the correct choice. After getting comfortable with the conditions and putting in a lap that was good enough for pole position in the Twins class, we returned to the paddock and swapped to the Kawasaki Supersport machine for the Formula 600 qualifying.
In our haste, we had neglected to change the suspension settings - which were still in dry mode - and as a result the front end felt extremely stiff and vague. We tried to push through it as best we could and managed to qualify in 6th position.
With some changes made to the front suspension, we were immediately out into the "Stars at Darley" qualifying session and immediately went 4 seconds a lap quicker! We qualified in 11th place and were actually the last rider within the 110% barrier (just 0.04 of a second within!), which lined us up on the 3rd row of the Stars at Darley grid... :-)
As per previous years, the season-closing meetings at Darley Moor had just one race per club class per day, which were all an extended length of 15 laps (except the Allcomers which was still 10 laps).
The Allcomers was our first race and we picked grid position 7 out of the hat. A poor start and relaxed first lap meant that we ended the opening lap in 6th position. After working our way up to 3rd position by the end of lap 4, we remained there for the rest of the race - finishing the race in 3rd position.
By the time of the Formula 600 race, the track conditions were now half-wet/half-dry - but almost everyone on the grid opted for wet tyres, which were overheating by lap 4! We spent almost the entire race in 3rd position, until being beaten to the line on the final lap by Reece Cashman, crossing the line in 4th position.
Next up was the Twins race. By now the track conditions had improved sufficiently enough for us to swap both bikes back to dry tyres. However, from the start of the race, our Kawasaki Supertwin was sounding noisy and there were unusual vibrations. We ended the opening lap down in 7th position and slowly made our way up to 3rd position by the end of lap 4. By this point, race leader Jim Hodson was over 12 seconds up the road.
As we were riding around (attempting to mentally diagnose the issue), we realised that in our rush to swap to dry tyres we hadn't checked the tyre pressures on any of the dry tyres - this wasn't too much of an issue with the Supertwin as it was wearing the same tyres as the previous meeting, but the Supersport machine had brand new tyres fitted. With that revelation realised, we brought the bike home to a "safe" 3rd place and returned to the paddock where the Supertwin engine was making a variety of nasty noises... This meant the end of the weekend/season for the twin, but the 3rd place result meant that we managed to secure 2nd position in the championship!
Stars at Darley Race 1 was immediately after the Twins race. Time spent checking and altering the tyre pressures (which were 38psi in the rear & 34psi in the front - they should be 26 & 32) meant that we just missed the start of the warm-up lap, so had to start the race from the back of the grid. After a fast and furious race through the pack we managed to finish in 10th place, just in front of 'BSB Junior Superstock rider' Jake Hopper and 'Fast Bikes magazine columnist' Broderick Whitmore-Wilson.
Of particular note on the onboard footage was Richard Cooper's overtake of us into the back esses - which woke us both up!
With our day of racing over, we gave both bikes a clean before heading out on a coach to the Darley Moor fundraiser organised by G&S Racing team owner Mark Fisher. It was a great night, and it was great to share in the celebrations of Albert Walker who wrapped up the Formula 600 championship a round early - well done Albert!
Sunday Race Day
The forecast good weather finally arrived! We were first out in the Stars warm-up session and immediately felt good on the bike, but our lap times were slower than expected - and the "Stars" appeared to like the drier conditions, as we finished the session in 18th position. Something was telling us that today's Stars race would be a tough one!
We then had the Formula 600 qualifying, where we forced ourselves to relax on the bike and after a few steady laps we felt good again - but the onboard laptimer was showing spurious times. We pushed on as hard as we dared in the windy conditions and the laptimer showed us a best time of 1'00.08, which we were disappointed in. When the official results were published we had actually posted a 59.45 which was good enough for 2nd position on the grid!
Our first race of the day was the 15-lap Formula 600 Race, where we needed to finish in the Top 7 in order to secure runner-up spot in the Formula 600 championship. We got a great start (and even pulled some wheelies!) and entered the Wilsons chicane in 3rd position in class. From there we tried to put in solid laps, which were only thwarted when catching backmarkers at unfortunate track positions - and managed to set our fastest lap of 59.05 on the penultimate lap. When we crossed the finishing line in 3rd place we just couldn't help but to punch the air in excitement after securing runner-up position in the Formula 600 championship! :-)
With the pressure of the club championships now gone, we were able to relax and enjoy Stars at Darley Race 2. Arriving to the assembly area on time (this time!) we started from our 11th place grid spot. We got a decent start, then got involved in some battles and ran the race between 12th-14th places. At the end of the 15-lap race, we crossed the chequered flag in 14th position - which gave us an aggregate result of 11th place in the overall Stars results, which we think is a fantastic result for us!
At the end of the 2021 Darley Moor season, the championship tables look as follows.
FORMULA 600 - FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 5)
Albert Walker 76
David Carson 47
Richard Wardle 37
Tom Fisher 30
Reece Cashman 26
TWINS - FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 5)
Jim Hodson 75
David Carson 59
Richard Hunt 46
Anthony Thane 37
Sean Seddon 24
Big congratulations to both Albert and Jim on putting together really solid seasons! We were never really within touching point of either this year. Looking back at the season, this has been a fantastic year for us and we met our targets for the season, so we're not disappointed! So we couldn't help but have a little celebration... :-)
Our 2022 plans are still yet to be decided (and our Kawasaki Supertwin issues are yet to be investigated), but we are very pleased and proud with what we have accomplished during the 2021 season...
* 2021 Darley Moor "Formula 600" Championship Runner-Up
* 2021 Darley Moor "Twins" Championship Runner-Up
* Classified 11th overall in the Stars at Darley (with a Top 10 race finish)
* Increased our "career race win total" to 111 race wins
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, HelloDave, Holroyd Tyre Warmers and Jason Sedgwick for their support.
Here are some photos from Darley Moor Round 6, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
We had a long summer break spanning 9 weeks where we kept ourselves busy - but it was great to be back in the paddock once again. We arrived on Saturday, caught up with lots of people in the paddock, then watched the F1 qualifying followed by Emma Raducanu's magnificent victory in the US Open tennis.
With full grids shown in the programme, we had concerns about finding clear space in qualifying - but these were unfounded and we managed to qualify 2nd in the Twins class and 5th in Formula 600, whilst multiple British champion (and multiple "Stars at Darley" winner) Richard Cooper took the pole position by over a second.
Our first race was the Allcomers, where we picked grid position 16 out of the hat. After working our way up to 2nd position by the end of lap 2, we remained there for the rest of the race.
Due to a incident in the Classic & Forgotten Era race, all of our other races took place after the lunch break.
The first of which was Formula 600 Race 1. A fairly average start saw us enter the Wilsons Chicane in 7th position, before we fell back to 8th position on lap 2. For whatever reason - be it not riding for a while, getting out of bed on the wrong side, etc - we struggled to get in the groove at this meeting and felt quite wooden on the bike. We were also making a series of small mistakes that seemed to get worse when we tried to push harder. But by the end of lap 5 we had managed to move up to 6th position, but then a mistake exiting Park on the final lap cost us a position and we eventually crossed the line in 7th position.
The Twins race was directly after the Formula 600 race, so Dave Snr was tasked with wheeling the Supertwin machine through the assembly area and onto the back of the starting grid, where we performed a MotoGP-style bike swap (albeit a lot slower!).
A poor start meant that we dropped from our 2nd-place grid spot to 5th place into the chicane. From here we worked our way through the pack to finish in 2nd place. By the end of the race we were exhausted!
Our last set of back-to-back races were at the end of the day. By this time, very light rain showers had sprinkled but it didn't look like much to worry about. When we headed off on our warm-up lap, the "diminished adhesion" flag was flying as Park corner was visually wet. On the return to the grid Richard Cooper and Daz Bellworthy decided not to race, and during the race Joe Walton retired.
A decent start from our 7th-place grid spot saw us enter the chicane in 6th place, before we moved up to 5th position at Park corner on the opening lap. On lap 2 we moved up to 4th position, where we stayed for four laps before being relegated to 5th. The rain showers continued to fall but we managed to finish in 5th place. A special mention must go to Joshua Potts, who actually went faster in the dodgy Race 2 conditions than in the dry Race 1 - giving him a well-deserved 3rd place finish.
A quick MotoGP-esq bike swap and we were ready for Twins Race 2. Another lacklustre start meant that we dropped to 4th position at the chicane, but our up-to-date knowledge of the track conditions meant that we felt comfortable on the bike and were able to move up to 2nd place in class on lap 2. We then spent the remainder of the race fighting off the lightweight-class machine of Ian Perks. On the final lap, Ian made a move into the back esses which stuck to the flag - but we crossed the line to take 2nd position in the Twins race.
There is now only one weekend of racing left in our 2021 season - the "Stars at Darley" weekend on 9th/10th October. Each day will host a single (but extended length) race for the club championships, along with a 15-lap race for the "Stars" - which we always enjoy watching. In preparation, some new dry tyres have been ordered for the Supersport 600 machine :-)
After Round 6 (of 8) of the 2021 Darley Moor season, the championship tables currently look as follows.
FORMULA 600 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 10)
Albert Walker 51
Tom Fisher 30
David Carson 29
Liam Weston 23
David Glossop 14
Ben Handley 12
Richard Wardle 10
Jordan Bannon 10
Joshua Potts 10
Richard Baker 8
TWINS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (TOP 10)
David Carson 49
Jim Hodson 45
Richard Hunt 28
Anthony Thane 24
Sean Seddon 12
Patrick Lord 11
James Barnett 10
Andrew Herd 8
Kieran Jackson 8
Martin Kelly 7
With a break in our racing calendar over the summer months, the Two Daves have found some other activities to keep themselves busy!
First Trackday for Dave Snr
What do you buy the "man who has everything" for his 66th birthday present? For us, the answer was to get Dave Snr out on track for the first time ever! Mike Gittings provided some of his old race leathers and we prepped Dave Snr's Aprilia Tuono with some of Dave Jnr's race scrubs, along with new brake pads and an oil/filter change. The circuit of choice was, of course, Darley Moor!
Dave Snr had a blast during the day and had his family in attendance to cheer him on. We even installed the Aim Solo lap timer (out of his view of course!) so that we could capture a GPS-certified maximum speed from the day - he ran 121mph and achieved a best lap time of 1'18.8 - taking roughly 10 seconds off his lap times through the day.
Jason & Donna's Wedding
Summertime is usually wedding-time and this year proved no exception. Former Darley racer (and 2017 Formula Darley championship runner-up) Jason Wilkes got married to his beautiful wife Donna at the end of July, with a selection of racers invited to the very posh doo! We had a brilliant day and wish Jason and Donna all the very best for their future together.
We had a nearby scare when a neighbour's workshop set alight and then exploded. Fortunately, the fire department's quick response swiftly dealt with the situation - which could have been a lot worse! We captured a video of some of the incident which made it to the news.
Dave Jnr went Wingwalking
Not content with racing around various UK tracks, Dave Jnr took to the skies for a couple of wingwalking flights...
The first wingwalk was a "Level 1" flight, where he climbed on top of a 450bhp Boeing Stearman biplane and experienced an exciting series of flypasts, zoom climbs, steep dives and banks in front of his family.
The second wingwalk was a "Advanced Level" flight - where loop the loops, stall turns, and rolls were performed. If was an absolutely fantastic experience and is highly recommended. We flew with AeroSuperBatics in Cirencester.
Supertwin Exhaust Repair
And finally, we have done some stuff relating to the race bikes... With the Kawasaki Supertwin exhaust sounding louder than usual at the end of Darley Moor Round 5 we investigated and found that the internal pipe had become disconnected, so have shipped the exhaust off to MHP Exhausts for repair and repacking. Hopefully this will make the bike quieter (and maybe even faster?) at the next race meeting.
Here are some photos from Darley Moor Round 5, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
David Carson Jnr,