Here are some photos from the Castle Combe round of the NG Road Racing championships, taken by official photographer Colin Hill...
Round 6 of the NG Road Racing championships took us to one of our favourite venues - the extremely fast Castle Combe circuit. After finishing work on the Thursday, we set off to the circuit and when we arrived (surprisingly) the paddock had space available. After initially considering sharing a combined setup with Daniel Nurrish, we instead managed to find a quiet spot suitable for the entire Carson family, nearby to the reserved area for the Lansdowne Classic Series racing club.
Prior to the meeting we had made a few minor changes to the Aprilia RS660 Trofeo - we removed the Explosafe tank foam, we create an 'old school' fuel measuring stick and we had ridden up the road to recalibrate the APRC (Traction Control, etc) settings. Everything else remained the same as previous - including the Metzeler TD slick tyres which had been used at the NG Pembrey meeting, the two race days at Darley Moor and at the NG Cadwell Park meeting!
Friday Test Day
The Friday test day was an unusual affair - as when entering we could choose either the morning or afternoon session, but not both. We decided to choose the afternoon session which left us at a loose end on the Friday morning - so we filled our time performing a minor fix to the ZX6R lower fairing, then fixed a loose plastic panel on the generator before deciding to perform a minor service on the generator... We took both bikes to noise testing due to Castle Combe's very strict noise test policy on track days (3/4 max revs at 105dB was the limit), in order to decide which could be used. Both bikes passed the test, so we decided to do the initial two sessions on the RS660 Trofeo (to capture some data on the new AiM Solo2 DL) and then the final session on the Kawasaki ZX6R.
For the opening session Richard Wardle advised that he would follow us, as he hadn't been to the track for almost 20 years! Richard is a fast lad and was on his Kawasaki ZX6R so we didn't want to waste too much time getting up to speed on our 'little' RS660. Out onto track the leading riders soon disappeared, after one corner of the sighting lap, so we decided to up the pace. According to Richard, when we reached the fast left-hand Hammer Down corner on sighting lap, the rear tyre lit up and left a smoke trail! Unaware of our impressive antics, we carried on and relearned the circuit. By the time we had finished the two test sessions planned for the RS660 Trofeo we had taken almost 2 seconds off our Supertwin Personal Best lap time!
As intended, we then went out on the Kawasaki ZX6R for the final session and learned that we needed to reduce the gearing ratio from 15/46 to 15/45. After the 10-minute session we were roughly 1 second outside of our outright Personal Best lap time, which we were happy with. A few laps from that session are provided for your viewing pleasure below :-)
After we had scrutineered, noise tested (again) and signed on - where we noticed that the programme cover featured a certain Daniel Nurrish - we headed out onto track again for the official track walk.
Saturday Race Day
We were out in the opening practice session of the day, at 08:40 for Supertwin practice, so were out of bed nice and early. There was a lot of traffic during the session, so we were surprised when the timesheet showed us as 2nd fastest. A run out in the 600 practice session confirmed that the gearing change was working well.
Our first qualifying session was for the Open 600 class, where we qualified 8th in class (11th on the combined grid). In the Supertwins qualifying session we set ourselves a new Supertwin Personal Best lap time of 1:16.753 which put us 2nd in class (3rd on the combined 35-rider grid) behind lap-record-holder William Holland of JHS Racing.
Taking a look over the bikes before the races, we noticed that the Kawasaki ZX6R front brake pads had worn a little quicker than expected. Not wanting to chance using them in the race, we fit some new EBC GPFAX brake pads - but this would mean trying to bed them in on the sighting lap. When the race started we got a great start and were within the top 10, but a crash early in the race brought out the red flag. After a quick nip back to the paddock to pop on the tyre warmers & adjust the front brake lever (now that the new pads had bed in), we went out in the restart and finished a respectable 9th place in class.
Our final race of the day was the Supertwins Race. Once again we got a great start and were running with the top 5 overall (and leading our class) until Hayden Rushton had a nasty crash at Esses, which brought about another red flag.
Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to refit our tyre warmers before the restart, so decided to go steady on the opening laps of the shortened race. This allowed a number of bikes to get between William Holland and ourselves and through the race he just extended his lead. We finished the race in 2nd place. We would like to send our best wishes to Hayden Rushton as he will be out for the remainder of the season.
Some bike prep for Sunday, a much-needed shower and then a BBQ at the combined Richard Wardle / Daniel Nurrish setup finished off the evening!
Sunday Race Day
When we awoke on Sunday we weren't feeling very "racey", so used the Morning Warmup session to have a ride on the Kawasaki ZX6R and get up to speed - it did the trick and after a few laps we were back on it!
Open 600 Race 2 was the first of our four Sunday races. An average start saw us stuck with traffic for a while before breaking free and spending a few laps behind BSB GP2 rider Jodie Fieldhouse on her Ariane2 Moto2 machine (nicknamed Phoenix). There seemed to be a lot of crashers in this race, but we managed to get some clear laps in and set a new Personal Best lap time of 1:14.323 during the race. We also managed to pass Jodie Fieldhouse and crossed the line in 7th place - our best-ever Open 600 finish at NG Road Racing!
Next up was Supertwins Race 2, where our grid slot was on the outside of the track and our start was quite poor. Fortunately however, we kept our competitors in sight and managed to catch race leader William Holland by half-race-distance. On lap 6 we took the lead and then battled to stay in front, needing to pass racers in other classes in order to stay ahead. We won the race by 0.3 of a second and set a new Supertwin Personal Best lap time of 1:16.568.
After the lunch break it was time for Open 600 Race 3. We got a great start and moved into 5th place on track into turn 3 on the opening lap. Being up with the lead pack we wanted to stay there as long as possible, so kept our head down and hoped that no-one would come passed - but of course they did...
The first to appear was James Bull who wasn't in our class (he was riding in the Sound of Thunder class on an 800cc MV as he had previously crashed his ZX6R). A few laps later Scott Keys (who pulled some impressive wheelies at the race start) came passed which relegating us to 6th in class. As the race went on we started to catch Richard Wardle and the race-leader had, unknown to us, retired with machine issues which promoted us back up to 5th place.
We got closer to Richard but were never close enough to make a pass. We crossed the line just 0.369 of a second behind Richard Wardle and secured our 5th place finish - a new personal best NG Open 600 finishing position for us! Possibly even more impressive, all of our flying laps were in the 1:14s :-)
The final race of the day was Supertwins Race 3, where we had a chance to capture the 2022 NG Supertwin championship (which we had previously won in 2014) as we held a 92-point lead with 100 points left available. All we realistically needed was a race finish...
We got an average start but entered turn 3 on the opening lap 2nd in class, just behind leader William Holland. On lap 3 we had the opportunity to take the race lead and took t. We managed to keep the lead until the race was red flagged on lap 8. We took the win by a margin of 7.580 seconds and WON THE 2022 NG SUPERTWINS CHAMPIONSHIP! We also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:16.665 :-)
So, of course, some celebration was necessary...
Although the Supertwin championship has been wrapped up, we are still hoping that we might be able to secure a Top 10 finish in the Open 600 class. The NG championship standings look as follows - with a maximum of 75 points in each championship still available:
NG Supertwin Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 303
2nd - Edward Giles 202
3rd - Steve Moody 161
4th - William Holland 90
5th - Paul Williams 75
NG Open 600 Championship Standings (Nearest)
8th - Pete Wyatt 93
9th - Alex Barker 81
10th - David Carson 79
11th - Cameron Hall 56
12th - Bevan Plumley 53
A special mention must go to Colin Hill for the fantastic trophy he created for the winner of the "King of Combe" Open class races. It truly was something special, but unfortunately it wasn't won by Lucy and Kate!
Our next race event will be Darley Moor Round 6. The fast and undulating Castle Combe circuit managed to finish off our tyres so we will be treating ourselves and fitting new dry tyres to each machine for the next event. As a reminder, the Darley Moor championship standings look as follows - with a maximum of 45 points in each championship still available:
Darley Moor Twins Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 60
2nd - Patrick Lord 26
3rd - Ian Robinson 24
4th - Ben Wilkinson 23
5th - Chris Barton 22
5th - Eddy Wormald 22
Darley Moor Formula 600 Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - Ben Dale 61
2nd - David Carson 40
3rd - Richard Cooper 30
4th - Albert Walker 22
5th - Jake Hopper 20
David Carson Jnr,