Here are some photos from the Pembrey round of the 2023 NG Road Racing championships, taken by official photographer Colin Hill...
After a leisurely 5 hour drive, we arrived at Pembrey for Round 4 of the NG Road Racing championships. Due to the short gap between Darley Moor Round 3 last weekend and this meeting, we decided to skip the Friday test day and used the day to travel instead.
With both bikes fully repaired and prepared (and our trusty yellow van working again!), once we had unpacked we popped to scrutineering and then did a track walk with Darley-regular Daniel Nurrish.
The weather was forecast to be dry all weekend - so we put the bikes on paddock stands (and on unplugged tyre warmers) and headed for a peaceful night's sleep - on what would end up being an eventful weekend!
Saturday Race Day
We were hopeful that the unexpected overnight rain had disappeared by the time we awoke, but it wasn't to be! So we swapped the wheels for wet tyres and headed out into practice on the Kawasaki ZX6R and then the Aprilia RS660. These sessions gave us the chance to reacquaint ourselves with the circuit, which was getting drier by the minute...
Into the Supertwins qualifying session and we had chosen to go with wet tyres. A dry line had started to appear and after a few laps the wet tyres were starting to overheat so we pulled in - we qualified 6th in class (10th on the combined grid). Next up was the Open 600 qualifying session. Knowing what we knew, we had changed back to dry tyres - but in the assembly area the rain started to fall again! We went as quickly as we dared but were only able to qualify in 15th position on the grid.
By the time Supertwins Race 1 began the track was fully dry (and no further rain appeared all weekend). Despite our optimism at Darley Moor for improving our race starts, a poor race start demoted us to 13th on track after the first corner. We then spent the remainder of the race attempting to regain positions, putting in decent laps any time we came across clear track. At the end of the race we finished 4th in class (5th on track) and were only 0.03 of a second away from the winner's pace - which was both disappointing and optimistic at the same time!
We then headed out for Open 600 Race 1. A good initial start was thwarted when we were too cautious into the first corner and we lost a bunch of places. Once again we found ourselves just trying to lap as quick as we could and trying to pass anyone that appeared in front of us. A little dejected, we returned to the paddock only to be informed that we had finished 3rd place in the Open 600 race!
Knowing that we had good speed, we had a think towards the strategy for Sunday and it was decided that the limiting factor was front end grip - probably not helped due to the Kawasaki ZX6R tyre having done 181 laps & the Aprilia RS660 tyre having done 142 laps - so we purchased some new tyres ahead of the remaining races.
With the bikes ready to roll, we headed to the bar for some socialising, then returned to the caravan to watch "Bolt" on DVD with the kids!
Sunday Race Day
We used the Sunday warm-up session to scrub in the new front tyre on the Aprilia RS660 and to get ourselves up to speed for the day.
Our first race was Supertwins Race 2, from our improved grid position on the second row. Our race start was appalling and the first corner was messy. Once again (there seems to be a theme occurring here...) we set about lapping as quick as we could in order to pass as many people as we could - and this time we managed to finish in 3rd position, once again being the second-quickest person on track! It appeared that we have the speed, but are struggling to put all the pieces together in order to capitalise on our strength.
We started Open 600 Race 2 from the second row and got a good start. Throughout the race we lost a few places and made a few places, but put in the best lap time of our weekend (a 1'02.600) and finished in a respectable 5th position.
For Supertwins Race 3 we got to start from the front row of the grid. Yet another poor start meant that we were demoted several places on the start, but we managed to recover a few positions following some chaos at turn 1 - coming out in 5th position (4th in class). This time we could actually see our competitors on the opening lap - we just needed to catch them... Unfortunately at the start of lap 3 we were pushed wide at turn 1 from a late move by a PreInjection 600 rider and then we spent the rest of the race involved with them, eventually crossing the line 7th on track (5th in class).
After partially-packing up whilst waiting around for our last race of the weekend (in anticipation of the long drive home), we eventually started Open 600 Race 3. We got a good start and made a clean entry into turn 1, when a rider behind knocked us to the ground... :-(
Our leg trapped underneath the bike, we were initially unable to move until a marshal lifted the bike - but fortunately all of our fellow competitors managed to avoid us. Sat on the side of the track after having a bang to the head, we assessed the damage. Our bike was not too bad but our shoulder was aching. We were taken to the medical centre (but can't actually remember how) and assessed with a mild concussion and presumed shoulder muscle damage. The rider was advised that he would not be driving home today!
We would like to say a Massive Thank You to Daniel Nurrish for assisting with the remaining cleardown and packing of our setup - as the one-handed rider was pretty useless at clearing things away...
Thanks must also go to Lorna for her assistance - not only for stopping at A&E on the way home for the rider's injuries to be assessed and x-rays to be performed (no broken bones - yippee!). On the Monday she took an emergency holiday to take part in an 11-hour round trip back to Pembrey circuit in order to recover the abandoned van and caravan. What an amazing woman! :-)
With some more solid points gained, we have started moving further up the championship tables. Unfortunately, due to missing both the opening and closing rounds of the NG championship season we are not able to put in a proper championship challenge this year - but after this weekend we have moved into 4th in the Open 600 championship and remain 3rd in the Supertwin championship.
Open 600 Championship Standings (Top 5)
Ricky Elder 238
George Edwards 231
Michael Rees 128
David Carson 102
Jed Bird 101
Supertwins Championship Standings (Top 5)
Brody Crockford 223
Steve Moody 166
David Carson 143
Alex Sinclair 95
Edward Giles 94
There is now a 4-week gap until our next race meeting, when we will be returning to Castle Combe for Round 5 of the NG championships on 28th-30th July.
Here are some photos from Round 3 of the Darley Moor championships, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
This meeting - held on Father's Day - was a race against the weather, with thunderstorms scheduled to roll in during the afternoon...
Our yellow van was poorly once again, so for the third Darley Moor meeting of the year we had our third different van! We had an early start and attended only on the Sunday. Due to the hire van needing to be returned promptly after the meeting we took the most basic of setups.
This meeting was our first time back on a bike since the Round 2 crash four weeks earlier, so our aim was to try and get up to speed and to check that our Kawasaki ZX6R Supersport bike was behaving as expected. Oh, and leaving with some points this time would be a bonus too!
We were out in the first qualifying session of the day on the Aprilia RS660 Trofeo and settled into the groove quite well, setting Pole Position in class (3rd on the combined grid). We then headed out on the Kawasaki ZX6R to bed in some new brake pads and get in some more laps. Once the pads had bedded (after a couple of laps) we started to up the pace, however, on one lap the front brake lever came back further than expected so we pulled in to make sure that everything was OK. No leaks were found and the brake was fine for the remainder of the day so we assume that there was maybe some trapped air that found its way out. With the early end to the session, we would start the opening Formula 600 race from 7th and the opening Darley Cup race from 3rd.
Our first race of the day was Twins Race 1. It appears that we have finally figured out a repeatable way to launch the bike (yey!) but Anthony Thane still beat us into the Wilsons chicane, before we retook the lead on the opening lap. It was then a fairly lonely race so we managed to chip away at the lap times and build more confidence, putting in a fastest lap of 1'00.26 and taking a clear victory at the end of the 8-lap race.
In Darley Cup Race 1 we got a great start, took the hole shot and led from start to finish, winning by 13.91 seconds with a fastest lap of 59.01. We were starting to get back in the groove with the Kawasaki ZX6R.
Formula 600 Race 1 had the strongest field of the classes we entered. As this was a qualifying race we were only really interested in getting a Top 4 finish so that we had a front row start for the final race in the afternoon. A good start saw us enter the Wilsons chicane in 5th place and then we managed to make our way into 4th position into Park corner on the opening lap. We circulated as a pack of four at the front until laps 6 and 7, when we caught some backmarkers at the chicanes and the leading pair of Joe Walton and Dave Grace got away. On the final lap we got a run on 3rd-placed Kaine Sheriff and made a move on the brakes into Paddock corner. Kaine tried to outbrake us but overshot and ran wide. What happened next was simply astonishing!
On the exit of the corner we kept a tight line and used less than half of the track width but Kaine continued to drift across the track until he eventually collided with our seat unit and fell from his machine as a result of the impact. On the return to the paddock we stopped to check with the officials that Kaine was OK. It was at this point that Kaine ran over in a fit of rage, broke our screen/GoPro and then proceeded to make numerous threats towards us. You can view all of this action in the onboard video below. As this breached the ACU National Sporting Code Section 11.01.7 (...any act which is of a violent, threatening or abusive nature to any Official, Rider or Passenger or any other person...) he was banned from competing in the remainder of the meeting.
After the lunch break we headed out in Twins Race 2. We can now finally say that we have had a decent launch on the bike, as we managed to get a great start! With a little more practice (testing revs, clutch release timing, etc) then we may even be able to do a little better! Leading our class and third on track we moved ahead of Adam Sheriff (Kaine Sheriff's father) into the back esses to move into 2nd on track, before Adam made a lunge for the lead at the hairpin. Not wanting to take any part in the PreElectronic 600 class battle we then sat around half a second behind for the remainder of the race, setting the fastest overall lap of the race and winning the Twins class from Anthony Thane and Ben Wilkinson.
Prior to Darley Cup Race 2 we had been advised that we would not be able to compete with a broken screen - but we would be able to remove the screen and apply race numbers to the front fairing instead. Another great start saw us take another start-to-finish victory, this time by 10.39 seconds, with a fastest lap of 59.26.
The lack of screen made a massive difference to the riding experience - with the amount of air pushing back onto our shoulders when travelling fast in a crouching position and then the increased blast when sitting up for braking. The difference that the missing screen made was massive, so (as we needed a replacement screen anyway...) we have ordered a double-bubble screen like we started the season with.
Whilst we were waiting for Formula 600 Race 2 to begin, the rain came! At first there was just a shower which evaporated quite quickly, but as soon as we were called to the assembly area the heavens opened and everything got soaked! We managed to change the front tyre (but not the rear) prior to visiting the assembly area. Whilst in the assembly area the rain got even heavier so we turned around and quickly changed the rear wheel - hoping that we could do so before the riders had finished the sighting lap (so we could at least start from the back of the grid on the correct tyres). By the time we had changed the rear wheel and returned to the assembly area the organisers had decided to wait 15 minutes to see what the weather would do. So we hung around in the monsoon conditions until the meeting was eventually abandoned due to the amount of standing water on the circuit. Our decidedly soggy team then packed away the remainder of the items into the hire van for the trip home...
The results during this meeting mean that we have moved closer towards the top of the leaderboards:
Darley Cup Championship (Top 5)
Adam Green 35
David Carson 30
Stephen England 24
Matthew Rostron 20
Nick Clare 13
700cc Twins Championship (Top 5)
Anthony Thane 37
David Carson 30
Ben Wilkinson 24
Matthew Birks 20
Andy Whale 12
Formula 600 Championship (Top 5)
Adam Green 22
Matthew Rostron 18
Adam Mather 16
Mark Goodings 16
David Carson 15
The 4 victories from this round mean that our total victory tally has now surpassed "150 racing wins" (with 152 wins) so a special t-shirt was made to celebrate the achievement! :-)
There isn't long to prep the bikes for the next meeting, as NG Pembrey is taking place this coming weekend - assuming that we have appropriate transport available. Fingers crossed that we can get there!
David Carson Jnr,