Here are some photos from the second Darley Moor meeting of 2016, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
The May Bank Holiday weekend featured two race meetings for us: the first was at the Silverstone International circuit with BEMSEE on the Friday/Saturday/Sunday, then we visited Darley Moor for Round 2 of their championships on the Monday.
We travelled to Silverstone on the Thursday afternoon. When we arrived we were amazed to find that the Silverstone circuit were tightly controlling access - they advised that they would not let any BEMSEE riders into the Wing paddock until 7pm, so a series of disorderly queues formed whilst waiting for 7pm to arrive. Once we were allowed access, a "land rush" occurred with each racer rushing to grab their paddock spot for the weekend :-)
Once in the paddock, we setup next to a mains power point so that we didn't have to run the generator all weekend. We decided not to put our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin into the Silverstone garages (even though we could) as it would mean running from two different places.
After some overnight rain on the Thursday, Friday morning was cold but dry. The first job of the day was to venture onto the circuit to configure the start/finish point for our on-board lap timer. On our way we had a look around the circuit to see what impressive facilities Silverstone had to offer, then prepared for the test day ahead. With Silverstone International being a circuit that we had not visited before, we spent the day learning the circuit layout and managed to get down into the 1'22 lap times by the end of the test day.
In the Saturday morning qualifying session, we made further improvements to get down into the 1'19s and qualified 11th out of the 47 bikes on track, putting us on the fourth row of the grid for the first race.
In the first race, we got a good start and were making good progress, before a light rain shower occurred during the race which upset our rhythm. We finished the race in 10th position (which was what we were aiming for) but felt that there was still further improvement to come.
In between the first and second races, an almighty rain storm hit Silverstone and threatened a change to wet-weather tyres. But once the rain had stopped falling (circa 90 minutes before our second race), the sun came out and was quickly drying the track. We decided to stay on dry tyres (which was the correct decision) and by the time our race was on track, the circuit was only damp. Again, we got a decent start then gradually got faster throughout the race - but our opposition got up to speed quicker than we did, which meant that we slowly fell back through the pack to 15th position at the flag - which scored us 1 more championship point!
Sunday was looking to be a good day - the sun was shining and the weather was calm. In race three, we got another good start and immediately set a new personal best lap on lap 2 of the race. On lap 3, we were 0.6 of a second faster after the first half of the lap, when the engine broke whilst battling for 9th position.
This meant that another "paddock engine swap" was required in order to try and get the bike ready for Darley Moor Round 2 the following day. Fortunately, everything went well and we fitted the new engine and had it running - so we packed up and completed the two-hour drive north to Darley Moor.
Darley Moor Round 2
Once we had arrived at Darley Moor (after avoiding a partial road closure on the M1), we setup and had a decent night sleep. With the Monday morning qualifying sessions being the first chance to test the new engine in our Kawasaki ER6 Supertwin, we did a few steady laps to check all was OK before putting in a qualifying lap. The track was dry but it was very windy. We qualified in 2nd position in both the Formula Darley and Mini Sound of Thunder classes, just 0.1 of a second from pole position.
Whilst waiting in the assembly area for the start of the first Mini Sound of Thunder race, the race before us was red flagged due to an accident. After a short delay, we formed on the circuit and started our race. We got a fantastic start but then the unfortunate Gary Henriksen highsided his Sound of Thunder machine at the first chicane, which brought out the red flag for our race.
We then waited on the start line for a further 30 minutes, during which time it started to rain. When the time came to restart our race, our tyres were stone cold and the rain shower was getting heavier, so we took it easy for the first few laps before pushing harder once the tyres had warmed up. By lap 5 we were circulating quickest in class but were back in 4th position. After a final push, we managed to overtake Stephen Taylor at the last corner of the last lap to finish in 3rd position. The race was won by Motorcycle News' rider Adam Child, with Kev Bond taking second position.
The rain continued to fall, so we changed to wet-weather tyres for the first Formula Darley race. Once the race had got underway, we were not quite able to keep with eventual winner Jamie Hodson, but finished in 2nd position, 2.21 seconds in front of Motorcycle News' rider Adam Child at the flag.
After the Formula Darley race, the heavens opened and flooded the paddock and track. A lengthy delay was put in place to allow the track to drain as the conditions were deemed unsuitable for competition. By this time, the strong wind and rain had demolished the awning belong to fellow Sound of Thunder competitor Mike Gittings, so he (and the Stall Racing crew) moved into our awning and worked from there.
The second Mini Sound of Thunder race was wet but the rain had stopped falling. Despite the slightly better conditions we were not able to lap any faster, so were unable to keep in touch with the race leader. We finished in 2nd position.
By the time our final race of the day arrived, the track was looking damp. We changed the rear tyre to a dry and left the front as a wet to give additional confidence in the damp sections. Unfortunately, when we arrived on track, the racing line was completely dry. Due to all of the delays through the day, the races had been shortened from the planned 8 laps down to 6 laps, so we decided to just go as fast as possible for as long as possible - as all of our competitors had full-dry tyres fitted. After wheelspinning from the grid at the start, we took 3rd position on the first lap. From here, we could see the leading two riders extending their lead but could not do anything to stop it, so finished in a comfortable 3rd position.
With our results from this meeting, we continue to lead both the Formula Darley and Mini Sound of Thunder championships.
We now have a bit of a "summer break" whilst the Isle of Man TT takes place, so will look to rebuild the engine that broke at Silverstone.
Our next race meeting will be Darley Moor Rounds 3 & 4 on Saturday 18th June and Sunday 19th June.
Here are some photos from the BEMSEE Silverstone meeting, taken by official BEMSEE photographers John Manclark and Karen Burrows at Kent Bad Boyz Photography...
David Carson Jnr,