Here are some photos from the third Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Our journey to Darley Moor Round 3 began a couple of hours after Dave Jnr's transatlantic flight from New York City landed! With the team rider back on home soil, it was time to load up make the 51-mile journey to the circuit. Travelling on the Saturday meant that we could once again get the necessary formalities of signing on and scruitineering out of the way, before it was time for Dave Snr to settle down in the caravan and watch the World Cup.
But before we talk any more about racing, here are a couple of photos of Kate - the team's newest member!
As per previous events, we had back-to-back qualifying sessions with the Mini Sound of Thunder qualifying taking place as the very first session of the day, followed directly by the Formula 600 qualifying. But new for this weekend was taking part in back-to-back championship races - as the Mini Sound of Thunder races directly followed the Formula 600 races at this meeting.
We qualified in 2nd place in the Mini Sound of Thunder class and qualified in 6th (out of 28) in the Formula 600 class - our best result so far on the Kawasaki Supersport machine.
Our first race was the Allcomers race where grid slots are chosen at random - we picked 2nd which was a great (albeit lucky) selection! A good start put us into 3rd place entering Wilsons chicane. On the opening lap we passed Martin Robbins to take 2nd place and then on lap 2 we passed Jamie Edwards to take the leading position.
We managed to retain the lead until lap 5 when we were caught and passed by Ross Richards. The podium-placed rider positions then remained the same until the end of the 10-lap race. Ross Richards took the win, we secured 2nd place (and the accompanying trophy) with Jamie Edwards taking the final podium spot.
During the Allcomers race we noticed that the left-hand handlebar position felt uncomfortable - and on return to the paddock we realised that it had become slightly loose and had managed to rotate backward towards us! A quick realignment and the bike was ready to go again.
Another, more worrying, issue was that by end of lap 8 Dave Jnr was suffering from exhaustion and felt completely drained of energy - which we attributed to Jet Lag finally catching up with him. We decided to skip the Peak Cup races to "fuel the rider" and make sure that he was in tip-top condition for the Formula 600 and Mini Sound of Thunder championship-points races.
The first of the Formula 600 races had three attempts at running. On the first attempt, a crash at the hairpin on the opening lap caused the 8-lap race to be red-flagged. At the restart, which was reduced to 7-laps, David Shallcross highsided coming out of Park corner on lap 1 which brought out another red-flag. Fortunately, neither rider was badly injured and the third attempt of the race start got away OK.
Our start (from 6th on the grid) wasn't great and at the end of lap 1 we were sitting in 10th position. By the end of lap 2 we had moved up to 9th position and then by the end of lap 3 we had moved up to 8th position (and set a new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.32). By the end of lap 5 we had closed a gap to a group of riders ahead (and set another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.28). On lap 6 we moved up another position and on the last lap we and set yet another new Personal Best laptime of 1'00.11 and crossed the finishing line in our best-ever result of 7th position, 2.30 seconds behind the final points scoring rider of Gary Hutchinson.
The Mini Sound of Thunder race was straight after the Formula 600 race, so we rushed around the slowdown lap to return to the paddock, where Dave Snr was waiting with the Kawasaki Supertwin. After carefully leaning the Kawasaki Supersport machine against the fence, we headed back out onto the starting grid. On the warm-up lap there was yet more action when one of the PreInjection riders ran into the rear of a Mini Sound of Thunder rider on the Pope straight and fell.
At the start of the race we slipped into 3rd position in class, before overtaking Elliot Williams on the opening lap and then catching up to race-leader Ross Richards. Us three leading Mini Sound of Thunder riders then got caught within a battle behind some of the PreInjection riders, which limited our ability to carry corner-speed and therefore limited our laptimes. It was a close but frustrating race, but at the chequered flag Ross Richards took the win, Elliot Williams took 2nd place and we finished in 3rd place (just 0.22 of a second behind).
Before the second Formula 600 race there was a slight sprinkling of "mental rain" but the track was still 99% dry. A great start put us into 4th position into the first chicane. We managed to retain our 4th position until the end of lap 3 when Chris Sammons came by. On lap 4 Andy Barber then came passed and relegated us to 5th position. We circulated in 5th position for a few more laps until we were caught by Jamie Horner on lap 7. We managed to stay with Jamie and Andy until the flag but were unable to make a pass and crossed the line in 7th position (only 0.50 of a second behind 5th position). This is great news as it shows that we are starting to challenge for points - but unfortunately, our first-ever Formula 600 championship point eluded us on this occasion!
Once the Formula 600 race was over, we once again rushed back to the paddock and swapped onto our 650cc Supertwin machine and headed straight onto the Mini Sound of Thunder grid.
An average start meant that we got caught up with some other Mini Sound of Thunder traffic that hindered our ability to carry the cornerspeed that we wanted through the chicanes. But on lap 6 we were finally able to make an overtaking maneuver and make use of some clear track, immediately dropping 0.75 of a second from our lap time! Putting in a couple of decent laps, we were able to chase down race-leader Elliot Williams and at Townleys on lap 7 (of 8) we managed to take the lead. It wasn't to last long though, as by the end of the Pope Straight on the same lap Elliot returned the favour and re-took the lead going into Paddock corner.
Starting the final lap, Elliot then took a lot of kerb on the exit of the Wilsons chicane which affected his drive down towards Park corner. With only a few corners at Darley Moor, we took the opportunity to attempt a block pass, which was a bit scruffy but clean. For the remainder of the lap we kept our head down and crossed the line to take our first Mini Sound of Thunder victory of the 2018 season! We later learned that heading into Park corner on that final lap, Elliot changed down one gear too many, which allowed Jamie Edwards to come through and finish in 2nd place, with Elliot crossing the line in 3rd place.
Our next race meeting will be the Darley Moor double-header on Saturday & Sunday 4th/5th August.
David Carson Jnr,