Here are some photos from the first race meeting of 2015, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
On a surprisingly pleasant Friday in March, we left Northwich and headed towards Darley Moor for the first weekend of racing in our 2015 season. The weather forecast advised of dry weather all weekend, but being March it was still quite cold so half of the radiator on our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin needed to be taped up to prevent the engine running too cool.
With Saturday being a untimed practice/test day, we made plans for each of the six sessions to help us get up to speed. The plan was to get some initial track time on scrubbed tyres, then to fit some new tyres and finally to fit some new brake pads and ensure that everything was bedded in properly in time for the Sunday qualifying sessions - but things didn't exactly go to plan...
In the first session of the day, a bike which was in the process of blowing up came passed and covered the bike (and rider) in oil, including the front tyre. Not wanting to take any chances, we decided to have the new tyres fitted early which meant that we would miss a practice session :-(
With the new tyres fitted, we ventured out on track and spent a few laps scrubbing in the tyres before blowing away a few more cobwebs. Everything was going well and we reduced our lap time to a 1'05.39 (our personal best lap time was 1'02.42), so things were looking well :-)
After the lunch session, we got faster and reduced our lap time down to 1'04.70. But on return to the paddock we discovered that the front fairing mount had broken.
The remainder of the day was spent manufacturing a temporary repair so that we could make it to the grid on Sunday. Thanks must go out here to Tim Poole for the provision of the aluminium strips used in the repair and for the use of the vice in the back of his van!
Sunday Race Day
With Sunday race day upon us, we had fitted new brake pads overnight that would need to be bedded in during the first few laps of qualifying. The first qualifying session was for the Formula Darley class. It proved difficult to get a clean lap in but we managed to qualify 3rd in class (and 3rd on the combined grid) with a lap in the 1'07 bracket. In the following Mini Sound Of Thunder qualifying session we managed a much cleaner run and again qualified 3rd in class (6th on grid) with a 1'03.54 lap time.
In the first race of the season - the Mini Sound Of Thunder Race 1 - we got a good start and entered the first corner second place in class. We had a good race with Jamie Hodson for 2nd place but eventually finished 3rd, just 0.09 behind Jamie. The good news was that we set a new personal best lap time of 1'02.24 during the race. The final laps are shown in the video below.
The second race of the day - Formula Darley Race 1 - provided another good start for us and another race with Jamie Hodson. This battle continued until lap 6 (of 8) when we got stuck behind a backmarker, cementing another 3rd place finish for us. More good news was that we set a "new" new personal best lap time of 1'02.18 during the race.
Mini Sound Of Thunder Race 2 provided our first poor start of the season. We worked our way through the pack and managed to catch 3rd-placed Josh Dransfield, but getting caught behind a backmarker at the start of lap 7 (of 8) meant that we were unable to challenge any further and had to settle for a 4th place finish. The video below shows our race until we met the backmarker.
Our final race of the day was Formula Darley Race 2. We managed an OK start this time and worked our way into 4th place by the second corner, before chasing and overtaking Josh Dransfield to take 3rd place on lap five. We kept the position by a narrow margin of 0.3 seconds at the line.
At the end of day's racing, we are currently standing 3rd position in both championships. This is a positive position but with seven more race meetings left in the Darley Moor championships there is plenty more racing left yet! We also got a mention in the BikesportNews Race Report, which was nice.
Our next race meeting is Darley Moor Round 2 on Sunday 12th April.
Onboard Camera Fitment
Over the past few years we have been using some Dogcam BulletHD cameras to film our escapades, which were then uploaded to our YouTube channel. But time takes it toll and the cameras had reached the end of their life, so it was time to upgrade to some new GoPro Hero cameras. With a new camera being used, we also took the opportunity to relocate the camera position - from the front mudguard to the front fairing.
With a sturdy alloy clamp and a j-hook clamp forming the basis of the mounting, the first step was to attach some high-density self-adhesive foam to the base of the alloy mount.
From here it was time to draw out the mounting holes (onto masking tape), before drilling the holes and then mounting the alloy plate with some M4 countersunk stainless steel bolts and nyloc nuts to ensure that the plate stays exactly where we want it.
After this, the mounting rod was drilled to allow for lockwire...
A tether point was added onto the fairing and the mounting rod was lockwired, to prevent the possibility of the rod unscrewing itself by accident.
With the first fairing modified, the process was then repeated for the spare fairing...
Our last major winter job has now been completed and we are looking forward to our first race meeting of 2015, which will take place at Darley Moor on Sunday 22nd March. Hopefully we will be greeted by some lovely spring sunshine - but only time will tell :-)
ACU Rain Light Fitment
With the ACU introducing compulsory rain lights in 2015, a mandatory light needed to be fit to our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin prior to our first race meeting at Darley Moor on Sunday 22nd March.
After looking at the available options, we decided on a light kit from Rea Racing which included everything we would need to meet the requirements. With a new hole drilled into the back of the seat unit (and the re-use of some old holes that were used to mount the rear-facing video camera), along with the stickiest duct tape we had to keep the wire out of harms way, the light was mounted to the seat unit. The light itself is self-adhesive but for peace of mind we will be using a cable tie to ensure that everything stays in place.
With the handlebar-mounted switch fitted to the left bar, we then modified the centre section of the provided wiring loom so that it was the correct length.
Then we re-attached the seat to the bike, connected the wiring plug connection (see the other connection here), and there was light... :-)
Our next news update will feature the fitment of our forward-facing GoPro camera, as in 2015 we will continue to update our YouTube channel with videos from all of the race meetings.
Programmable ECU Fitted
Over the winter we took the opportunity to fit a new programmable ECU to enable the ignition timing to be changed further, in the search of more midrange. We actually purchased the ECU in June 2014 but due to the fitment requiring considerable wiring modifications we postponed the fitment until winter, when we would have plenty of time available.
Instead of wiring the ECU into the existing loom, we took the opportunity for Dynopro Racing in Runcorn to make a bespoke loom for us. We thought that the wiring beforehand was tidy enough but we are now very happy with the appearance of the electrics, which are tucked safely away under the seat, attached to some 8mm foam to keep vibrations at bay.
With the ECU fitted and several hours spent on the dyno to create some bespoke fuelling and ignition maps, we found an increase of 4% at the top end and over 10% through the mid-range! Just what we had been looking for :-)
You may also notice the disconnected wiring plug at the rear of the bike. This connector is for the 'new-for-2015' ACU rain light - details of which will be posted in the next couple of days.
20 Years and Counting...
Today marks the 20th Anniversary of our first ever motorcycle road race! At a snowy Cadwell Park, on a Yamaha TZR125, our journey began...
And on that day, we even managed to win our first trophy :-)
But for 2015, things are continuing to progress well. The bodywork is looking much more finished and the bike preparation is almost complete...
With the first race meeting of 2015 less than three weeks away, some subsequent posts in the next couple of weeks will reveal the changes that have been implemented over the winter to improve our overall package... Stay tuned!
David Carson Jnr,