Here are some photos from the opening Darley Moor meeting of 2021, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Racing is back once again! Unfortunately, Round 1 of the 2021 Darley Moor championship had to be cancelled due to COVID and because of current restrictions we were unable to camp - so everything had to be done in one day.
Despite the unpleasantness of a 4.30am departure from Two Daves Racing HQ, the club made changes to ensure that the day ran very smoothly - with both the race office and scrutineering opening earlier than usual.
Following hours of work on our trusty race machines during the off season, when it was time for noise testing our Kawasaki Supersport machine refused to fire into life. For whatever reason, the fuel pump was not priming and therefore not sending any fuel into the engine. After an inspection of all fuses and some of the wiring, there was no change - so it looked like the Formula 600 races would be off our schedule for the day.
Our Kawasaki Supertwin (with its newly repacked exhaust) flew through noise testing and then we were out into the qualifying session for our first track time in 2021. We took it slow and steady, building pace at a consistent rate, and then noticed that on wide-open-throttle the clutch was slipping. We tried our best to ride around the problem and somehow managed to qualify for the Twins race in 2nd place. When we returned to the paddock I then managed to break the GoPro mounting - so there are no videos from this meeting, which is a shame because we had some cracking races!
Our first race of the day was Darley Moor's first race of the season - the Allcomers race. Grid positions are chosen "out of the hat" and our starting grid position of 15 (from 29 starters) couldn't be any more average - we had 14 riders in front of us and 14 riders behind us. It appears that everyone was very eager to get racing underway as the start was madness! As soon as the red lights switched on... one racer on the front row moved, then another, and then the majority of the field. We waited eagerly until the red lights went off before we set off but by the time we got to Park corner on the opening lap, the red flag was being shown - the organisers must have thought that it was quite pointless giving half the field a jump-start penalty, so we restarted (albeit losing a racing lap as it was now a 9-lap race).
Being mid-pack, when the race started there were bikes everywhere and it didn't take long for us to lose track of our race position - so we just looked for a bike ahead and tried to catch it. The results sheet advised that by the end of lap 3 we had moved into 2nd position and were 6.04 seconds behind race leader Jim Hodson. Over the next six laps we made some time and lost some time, before being in a position on the final lap to make a passing move at Paddock corner. It was only when we returned to the paddock that Dave Snr advised that we'd won the race!
After a short break we were back out in Twins Race 1, where we started from 2nd position on the grid. A decent start kept us near the head of the pack and we moved into the lead at the end of the opening lap. We then tried to pull a gap, but by riding more aggressively the clutch began slipping quite badly. After a few clean-ish laps we looked behind and saw Jim Hodson glued to our tail. We tried to put in some smooth laps without burning up the clutch, but knew that Jim was right behind us. On the final lap, he made an appearance and came passed along the Pope straight whilst we were both overtaking some backmarkers, but we managed to retake the lead on the brakes and crossed the line to take the win by 0.36 of a second!
During the long break between races, Dave Snr continued to investigate and play around with the Kawasaki Supersport and its wiring. After a while he decided that enough was enough, as we couldn't find any faults. It was at this point that we thought to check for any fault codes logged on the dash - when we did we heard the fuel pump had kicked into life. A prod of the starter button and the bike purred into action. Very confusing, since we had neither replaced any parts nor knowingly fixed any problems... Regardless, we didn't care and took the opportunity to prep the machine for Formula 600 Race 2 - albeit we would need to start from the back of the grid.
Our Twins Race 1 victory meant that we started Twins Race 2 from pole position. We knew that Jim Hodson probably had the best of us (and was probably toying with us in Twins Race 1) but were feeling comfortable on the bike so wanted to try to put up a good fight. When the lights went out we got a decent start until we got stuck in 2nd gear! This meant that we entered Wilsons chicane in 6th or 7th place, but managed to get back up to 3rd place by the end of the opening lap - 1.8 seconds down on the leading pair of Jim Hodson and Sean Seddon. By the end of lap 3 we were just 0.7 of a second behind the leader, so we were back in contention.
But the final 7 laps of the race were frustrating - as every time we made an overtake we were then repassed on the following straight (which wasn't helped by the slipping clutch). A favourite passing spot at the hairpin was not available through a lot of these laps due to the presence of yellow flags. So on the final corner of the final lap of the race, we attempted a last-ditch "around the outside" move that didn't work and crossed the line in 3rd place - 0.16 of a second behind Sean Seddon in 2nd place, with Jim Hodson taking the win a further 4.39 seconds up the road. A good fun battle of a race and a nice reminder of why we love racing!
The final race of the day was Formula 600 Race 2, where we lined up from last on the grid (20th). Our aim was to check that everything was running well, and if so, to see whether we could get a Top 10 finish (as championship points are awarded to 10th place). We got a great start and by the end of the opening lap were in 9th position. We kept on trying to chase down people. Nearing the end of the race we started to see familiar racers in front of us such as Tim Walsh and Rich Baker. At the end of the 10-lap race we crossed the line in 6th place, but as the 'wildcard' race winner wasn't taking points or trophies, we were awarded championship points for a 5th place finish - which worked out great for us!
After a great opening meeting, we leave with a few jobs to do... Our plan is to look into Supertwin clutch issue (checking the stack height and installing some new EBC heavy duty clutch springs), as well as revisiting the Supersport wiring and fuel pump issue.
This opening weekend wasn't kind to everyone though, so we would like to send our best wishes to Zach Tansley and Lee Smith who both suffered injuries during the race meeting - Get Well Soon lads!
Our next race is planned for Darley Moor Round 3 on Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May. There may be a possibility of spectators being allowed to the event - if so, please give us a wave! :-)
David Carson Jnr,