Here are some photos from the Donington Park round of the NG Road Racing championships, taken by official photographer Colin Hill...
Here are some photos from the second round of the Darley Moor championships, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
We travelled to Darley Moor straight from the NG Donington Park meeting. Arriving late we were expecting to scrabble for some paddock space, but were able to setup nearby our usual spot, which was great.
The evening weather was lovely - warm and calm - but as we were too late for scrutineering we leisurely setup and made sure that the bikes were ready to be inspected first thing in the morning. It certainly was nice to have a night's sleep uninterrupted by overnight aircraft take-offs!
The weather forecast for the Sunday (both for Donington and Darley) was constantly changing - so we were unsure whether it would be wet, dry, damp - or anywhere inbetween! Around 3am, the rain started falling on the caravan and when we woke, the paddock and track were wet... It didn't take long for most of the wet surfaces to dry, but it looked like there were still wet patches on the track so we walked to the circuit to take a better look - and it was then that Andy Barber invited us to a lap in the course car (our first ever car lap around Darley!) and we saw that the majority of the course was dry... So dry tyres it was then!
When we headed out into the qualifying sessions, the only wet patches were along the Pope Straight. Not wanting to do anything silly we decided to take it relatively easy and to try for a front-row start on each bike. It looks like our approach wasn't too different from everyone else - as we managed to secure pole position in the Twins class and 2nd position on the Formula 600 grid.
Onto the races, and for the Allcomers race we picked the #3 peg for the race which gave us a front-row start. Getting the RS660 Trofeo off the line was still a mixed bag - especially with some added punch from the revised gearing ratio. Albert Walker initially led the race and we followed closely, the pair of us making a large gap from the chasing pack. Our initial pace was a lot slower than what we achieved at Round 1, yet we didn't feel like we had enough extra speed to immediately pass Albert and make a gap on him, so planned to wait until we warmed into the race - hoping that our pace would increase - and then try to make a move. Unexpectedly, Albert's race came to an end at Paddock corner on lap 3, which left us to manage the rest of the race - we took the win by 22 seconds in the end, setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.
It was only a short wait until we headed out for Formula 600 Race 1. Albert Walker didn't start the race due to an overheating bike, so was unfortunately having an unlucky day! A good start saw us enter the Wilson's Chicane in 2nd place, where we remained until the chequered flag. The new rear tyre that we fitted for Donington Park had seen a lot of use/abuse over the weekend and was starting to protest, but we managed to put in a series of laps within the 59 second barrier. We were just hoping that we would be able to be competitive in the "points" race...
Next up was Twins Race 1. Albert had not been able to repair his machine, so it looked like it was unlikely we would have a battle on track in this race. We started from pole position but had a bad start - managing to pop a wheelie in the first four gears by using the fronts forks like a pogo stick! Despite this, we managed to take the race lead by the end of the first lap, then put in a series of clean laps - the best of which was the race fastest lap of 1:01.59. Unfortunately, the race was red-flagged on lap 7 (of 8) and the result was called. We were classified as the winner.
After the lunch break we were back to racing! Somehow... despite bringing a combined 97L of fuel (in tanks and jerry cans), we were running low on fuel for the generator. James Ford came to the rescue with a couple of litres of unleaded to make sure that we could complete the day - cheers James!
A quite poor Formula 600 Race 2 start saw us enter the chicane in 3rd position, before moving up to 2nd position at Park corner on the opening lap. From this point we should have been chasing down Ben Dale to challenge for the win, but it seemed that we didn't have either the tyre nor the enthusiasm to push beyond the limits that we were encountering - so circulated as fast as we could without making any mistakes. That plan worked fine until lap 5 when we missed a gear coming out of the hairpin, which allowed Albert Walker to come passed. This mistake, plus a couple of the following lap, allowed him to established a gap... With a new race-face on, we got our head down and closed the gap back up. We were close enough to attempt a pass at the hairpin at the final lap, but decided to wait until Paddock corner for a last-corner last-lap manoeuvre - but unfortunately the opportunity wasn't there. We crossed the line in 3rd place!
Prior to Twins Race 2, we spent some time adjusting the clutch to see if we could improve the biting point - and therefore improve our race starts. We got a relatively good launch (compared to some of our others), but shifted up to neutral instead of 2nd gear, which halted our progress and put us back to 4th place.
This race was tricky as we knew we had speed, but needed to make sure that we secured some decent championship points, so we took our time to make careful overtakes. Putting in some quicker laps the traction control was kicking in, meaning that we couldn't lap as quick as we wanted to. After doing some calculations after the race it turns out that the tyres had done almost 300 laps - so we had certainly got our money's worth!
After taking the race lead on lap 3, we set the fastest lap of the race on lap 5 - but again didn't manage to see the chequered flag as the red flag was shown on lap 9 (of 10). Winning the race was a relief after what had become a long and exhausting weekend. Some new rubber will be fit to both machines for the next race meeting!
After 2 (of 8 rounds) of the Darley Moor championships, the standings look as follows:
Twins Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 30
2nd - Chris Barton 16
3rd - Jim Barnett 12
4th - Josh Froggatt 12
5th - Richard Saville 10
Formula 600 Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - Albert Walker 22
2nd - Ben Dale 19
3rd - David Carson 18
4th - Richard Cooper 15
5th - Stephen Parsons 12
Our next race meeting will be NG Pembrey on 11th/12th June - meaning that we will be voluntarily missing our first ever Darley Moor meeting since March 2009! It is an unfortunate situation, but we need to attend Pembrey in order to capture some more NG championship points to stay in the battle for the Supertwin championship with Steve Moody and Edward Giles.
It was time for us to visit "one of the world's foremost race circuits". Dave Snr had arrived back from USA on the Thursday morning, so we waited until the Thursday evening to head across to the circuit. After a quick setup, we settled in to watch the NW200 coverage on Daniel Nurrish's iPad.
Friday Test Day
The Friday test day was bright and dry, but very windy! We fit a brand new rear tyre onto the Kawasaki Supersport machine for the event, but after only three sessions it started chewing up due to the hard corner exits at Redgate/Hollywood and Coppice. So for the afternoon sessions we went out on the RS660 Trofeo (and were black-flagged for ride-by noise in one of the sessions), where we found that the new final-drive gearing ratio of 16/46 seemed to be a lot more suitable. By the end of the day we had got close to our Supertwin PB time set back in 2019, which was encouraging.
As we learned at Brands Hatch, we would not be able to carry the Supersport onboard camera on the race days - so took the opportunity to capture some footage on the test day instead. For your viewing pleasure, here is a lap of the wonderful Donington Park circuit - which includes an unfortunate crash for another rider around 1:10.
Following a lengthy queue for scruitineering, we signed on and then headed to Garage 39 - the Donington Paddock bar - for a few well-received drinks.
Saturday Race Day
Saturday turned out to be a hot one - the mercury said that it was 20C but it felt a lot hotter! We were given a practice session on each machine, which allowed us to get into the groove before we went out into qualifying.
In the Open 600 qualifying we managed to qualify 12th in class (15th on combined grid with Sound of Thunder) and in the Supertwin class we qualified in 3rd place in class (5th on combined grid with PreInjection 600 and Formula 400 machines).
We got a good start in the Open 600 race and managed to get involved in a battle for 7th-10th places. Despite pushing as hard as we could, we remained 0.4 of a second from our 2019 Personal Best laptime, but got our first ever NG Open 600 Top 10 finish with a 10th place at the flag! A great result!!
We had a lengthy wait for the Supertwin race due to an oil spillage, but the wait was worth it... An average start put us in an epic battle with two other Aprilia RS660s as well as some of the PreInjection 600 front-runners. During the race we made our way through the pack, encountered some backmarkers in less than ideal locations, and crossed the line in 2nd place on track to pick up some silverware! We also managed to set a new Supertwin PB of 1:17.194, which was an improvement of 0.8 of a second. The onboard race video is probably one of the most interesting that we've captured :-)
After a great couple of days, it was time to leave Donington Park. The race event continued onto the Sunday but we had different plans already lined up...
We packed up and headed across to Darley Moor for Round 2 of their championships - the race report for this will be available very soon! But once the Sunday races had run, the current standings for each of the NG championships are as follows:
NG Supertwin Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 106
2nd - Steve Moody 101
3rd - Edward Giles 82
4th - Craig Neve 50
5th - Louis Dawson 50
NG Open 600 Championship Standings (Nearest)
14th - Tom Weeden 29
15th - Owen Hunt 24
16th - David Carson 22
17th - Will Lathrope 19
18th - Mark Walker 16
David Carson Jnr,