Here are some photos from the first Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Following the cancellation of NG Brands Hatch, Darley Moor Round 1 marked the start of our 2018 racing season. After spending the week in London, David Jnr arrived back to our Northwich base on Friday afternoon and then packed up and headed to the circuit on Friday evening.
The majority of the Saturday test day was spent getting more "seat time" on our Kawasaki Supersport bike. A number of small changes were made - including a change to the amount of throttle slack which made a massive difference to the way the bike felt whilst riding - and by the end of the day we felt natural on the new bike.
During the test day we also helped a lot of fellow riders overcome small early-season issues and, at the request of Eddie Nelson, we spent a session following young rider Thomas Pilling around the track on his first outing at Darley Moor. Thomas is running out of the Hodson Racing awning and is quickly improving, so look out for him in the future!
With the arrival of the Sunday race day, we thought it would be good to clarify our aims for the 2018 race season:
* Achieve a sub-1'00 lap of Darley Moor on the Kawasaki Supersport 600 machine, and
* Be able to complete 9 laps of Darley Moor before the "Stars" complete 10 laps! As we intend to enter the prestigious "Stars at Darley" race, we do not want to potentially interfere with the race result - so will only enter the Stars race if we can complete the races without being lapped.
We were entered into 8 races on the Sunday but as David Jnr was flying off to NYC for work early on the Monday morning, we knew that "safe riding" would be an integral part of the day. Due to the race schedule we actually competed in 6 races which was enough to keep everyone busy throughout the day!
The first qualifying session (on the Kawasaki Supertwin) was full of crashes and yellow flags. Unable to get a clear lap in, we managed to qualify 4th place in class (5th on the combined grid).
The qualifying session for the Kawasaki Supersport 600 bike was directly after the Supertwin session - once again there were more crashes and a red flag this time due to a couple of crashes at the back chicane. We wish all the best to anyone injured during those incidents! By the end of the restarted session we had qualified in 11th place (of 25) with a lap time of 1'03.33.
The first race of the day (and the season!) was the "Up to 650cc twin Allcomers" race. From the start we headed into the first chicane in second place and then managed to move into the lead by the end of the opening lap. On lap 2, Chris Moore came passed - we tried to keep with him but his pace was just too strong. Being kept honest by Richard Stubbs close behind, we managed to put in a series of consistent laps to keep 2nd position to the chequered flag and picked up our first trophy of the 2018 season.
Our second race of the day was the Peak Cup race, which we entered for some extra track time on the Kawasaki Supersport 600 bike. During the race we got caught up in a battle with some of the slower-lapping 1000cc bikes. After attempting to get passed for a few laps we though "we're not learning anything by doing this", so decided to drop back so that we could complete a few clear laps - this worked and we managed to put in a new personal best of 1'02.09 on the new Supersport bike.
Our third race of the day was the Formula 600 race - the first time we had raced against a 600 grid for 19 years! After a steady start, we proceeded to pick off riders one by one, setting a personal fastest-ever lap time of 1'00.60 around Darley Moor. Across the line, we finished in 12th place.
Our fourth race was the Mini Sound of Thunder race. Into the first chicane we tangled with Elliot Williams. Trying the stay out of trouble, we stayed steady and then chased down leaders. By the end of the race we had put in the 2nd fastest lap but finished 4th on track, 0.36 of a second behind Jason Wilkes. The race was won by Elliot Williams with Richard Stubbs taking the runner-up spot.
In the second Formula 600 race there was a big group of us covering 9th to 15th positions. Like in the opening Formula 600 race, we slowly managed to pick off riders in front one by one. Unfortunately, our progress was halted when we got stuck behind rider that had a quick bike but was slow through chicanes, which resulted in slower overall lap times for us - as we couldn't take advantage of our strong point on the circuit. We finished in 12th place again with a best lap time of 1'02.07.
The final race of our day was the second Mini Sound of Thunder race. On the opening lap, Jason Wilkes was a bit wild into Park (and a few other corners) so we decided to stay safe and kept out of trouble - but that meant that we eventually finished in a lowly 5th position.
Reflecting at the end of a busy weekend, we think this was some of the best fun we've had at a race meeting for a while. We are happy with our progress on the new Kawasaki Supersport 600 machine and David Jnr left safely in one piece to travel to NYC (hence this slightly delayed race report!).
Our next race meeting will be Darley Moor Round 2 on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May. Baby Carson #2 is due that weekend, so depending on baby's arrival date we may or may not be present at that meeting - but if we can be there then we will! :-)
David Carson Jnr,