It seems that we are usually the ones taking the onboard footage rather than the ones featuring in the footage - but in the Aintree Round 1 650 Supertwin Race 1, Simon Robins (on his SteelFrame 600) captured the following footage on his way to 3rd place in his class.
A sunny and dry (but very windy) Saturday hosted Round 1 of the 2015 Aintree Motorcycle Club championships. This event is a one-off for us this season and we were assigned race number #78 rather than our usual #88 for the event.
This meeting also featured the first overnight stay in the caravan for new arrival (7-week old baby) Lucy which provided an interesting night inside the caravan! Outside of the caravan, 40+ mph winds took their toll on the paddock - and especially on the free-standing awning parked across from us which collapsed in the overnight wind.
Our last visit to the Aintree circuit was in 1999 and some new patches of tarmac were laid the week before the race meeting - so for us it was like visiting a brand new circuit. After the usual safety checks and signing on, we were out in the first practice to try and learn the track. We only completed three laps before the session was ended - with our laptimes tumbling from a 1'26 to a 1'19 and then to a 1'14, demonstrating that there was still a lot of learning to be done. We managed to persuade the circuit staff to let us out in the following session where we did a further three laps within the 1'12 second bracket and had much more of an idea of which racing lines to take!
Our first race of the day was the "500 Open and 750 Twin" qualifying race where the grid positions were allocated 'out of the hat'. We selected a peg with the number 20 on it, giving us 20th position on the grid. We thought this was OK until looking behind us on the grid showed that there was only one rider behind us! As the race went on we began to learn the track, passed a few riders and started to lap in the 1'06 bracket - 6.4 seconds a lap faster than our fastest lap in the practice session! We finished in 12th place which put us 12th on the grid for the "final" race.
Race 2 was the qualifying race for the "650 Supertwin" class. Again the grid positions were allocated 'out of the hat', but this time we picked peg number 2 - so instead of having one person behind us at the start, we now had only one rider in front of us! :-) We had a great start and initially led the pack off the line but not knowing exactly where to brake we lost a couple of places and exited the first corner in 3rd place. Knowing from the first race that there were some riders lapping in the 1'02 second bracket we braced for a flood of riders to come past but we managed to hold them off for a lot longer than expected, reducing our laptime down into the 1'05 second bracket in the process. We finished 7th in class, which put us 13th on the combined grid for the Supertwin final race.
With more laps under our belt, we felt a lot more positive going into the final races than we did going into the qualifying races. Our gut feeling proved to be true as we finished in an improved 9th place in the "500 Open and 750 Twin" final race.
The final race of our day was also the final race of the day - the "650 Supertwin" final race. From our 13th position grid spot we got a good start and some good battles with a couple of 'steel frame 600' riders who were sharing the track with us. By the chequered flag, we had made our way into 5th place in class and on the very last lap of the race we set our fastest lap of the day - a 1'05.08. With further visits to the circuit we are confident that further reductions in our laptimes would be possible. But with no further visits planned for this season, we will take the positives away as there is now the traditional summer break whilst the Isle of Man TT races take place.
Our next time out on track will be for Rounds 4 and 5 of the Darley Moor championships on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June.
The onboard race videos from the meeting have been uploaded to our YouTube Channel.
In preparation for Darley Moor Round 3 we had some new clutch plates fitted into the slipper clutch and a few other minor improvements performed by the Poole Performance Centre. But this meant that the bike was not returned until 6.30pm on the Saturday night before the Bank Holiday Monday race day. Once we had our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin back, we fitted the front brake calipers that Powerhouse Automotive rebuilt, serviced and prepared the bike, loaded the van and then headed off to the track (after watching MotoGP on television!).
Our usual parking space in the "Stars paddock" was unavailable due to that paddock area being closed, so we found a new home for the meeting near the scruitineering bay. With reduced paddock area available, everyone was a lot more closely packed together but it made for a good atmosphere.
When qualifying got underway, there were a few incidents - Tim Poole's engine exploded and spilled oil through the final corner which caused a delay. When it was time for our qualifying session, our competitor Brad Vicars suffered from a broken crank which resulted in the end of his day.
We qualified 2nd in each class but with Brad unable to start we essentially inherited pole position in each class.
In the races, we took the lead on lap 1 of each race and then led the race to the flag, winning the first two races by almost 10 seconds each.
In the third race of the day (Formula Darley Race 2), we again took the lead on the opening lap - but then coming out of the first chicane on lap 2, the engine died (of causes yet unknown - see below for video) which brought our involvement in the meeting to a close. Despite not finishing all of the races, our earlier victories have moved us into 1st position in the championship standings for both championship classes. Our race wins also got us another mention in the official Race Report.
With our next race meeting planned for Saturday 16th May with the Aintree Motorcycle Racing Club, our spare engine has been installed whilst the main (silver) engine will be inspected to ascertain what went wrong.
Below is the video showing the moment that the engine failure occurred in Formula Darley Race 2.
David Carson Jnr,