Here are some photos from the penultimate Darley Moor meeting of 2018, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
Before we could set off to Darley Moor Round 6, a few minor jobs were needed - to repair a couple of GoPro cameras and to fit some new captive wheel spacers to our Kawasaki Supertwin front wheels (due to the old ones being compressed by 0.6mm each after 4 seasons of use). For the cameras, it was just a matter of filing down the mating surfaces of the camera underside and replacement mounts before bonding them back together. This has allowed us to run onboard cameras once again!
On the Saturday afternoon the "Two Daves" travelled to the circuit and took part on a track walk with some of our fellow competitors.
The race programme showed that there would be a limited number of riders for the Mini Sound of Thunder races - with championship regulars like Ian Robinson being on holiday and Jason Wilkes moving to a 600cc machine after crashing his supertwin machine at the previous meeting.
Waking on Sunday morning, the forecasts showed a constant risk of rain showers throughout the day and during the qualifying sessions we suffered from the first of many showers that would arrive during the day.
Despite riding strong at Castle Combe, things were not flowing during the qualifying sessions and we struggled to put in decent times. Fortunately it appeared that we were not the only team struggling and we managed to qualify 2nd in the Mini Sound of Thunder class (3rd on the combined grid) and 10th in the Formula 600 class.
When the races started, so did the rain. With the track being damp - and too dry for wets and too wet to safely use drys - we chose to skip the Allcomers race to allow the weather some time to decide what it was doing, and it decided to dry out.
Our first race of the day was the Peak Cup. With each passing lap, we were starting to get more and more comfortable and settled into a mini-battle with Matt Zschiesche before we finished in 9th place.
On the sighting lap of the first Formula 600 race, a light rain shower fell. Then on the opening lap of the race, we witnessed other riders having moments at Park corner and saw fallers at the hairpin. Not feeling comfortable, we decided to retire from the race on lap 3.
We were then straight out into the Mini Sound of Thunder race. Feeling more comfortable, we pushed as hard as we could but finished in 2nd position, just over 4 seconds behind race winner Elliot Williams.
Our next race was Formula 600 race 2, where due to our earlier retirement we started from the back of the grid. We managed to find our groove and had a good ride. After an average start we made our way through pack and into 5th place (setting a fastest lap of 59.74 - only 0.01 of a second from our Personal Best lap).
On the last lap we made an attempted move on Jed Bird for 4th place into the back esses - but we didn't quite make it passed Jed so backed off, as did Jed, which cost us both a couple of seconds as we fumbled through the corner. With yellow flags being shown at Townleys and the hairpin, we never managed another attempt and crossed the line in 5th place, just 0.13 of a second behind Jed at the chequered flag.
A quick rush around the cooling down lap and we headed straight back onto track for Mini Sound of Thunder race 2. Like earlier in the day, a rain shower started to fall on the sighting lap - but this time the rainfall got much heavier. The race start was abandoned and we returned to the paddock to swap to wet tyres. On the sighting lap, Elliot Williams had discovered some machine issues so decided not to race. This left us as the only bike in our class entering the race - meaning that after a fairly lonely 8 laps we took the win!
With the racing day over, the rain got even heavier which made packing up just that little bit more miserable! But one thing that brighten our day was the realisation that we have secured a Top 2 finish in the Mini Sound of Thunder championship.
We still have an outside chance of retaining the Mini Sound of Thunder championship - being 22 points behind Elliot Williams with 36 points available at the final round - but the odds are against us. A couple of extra points in the Formula 600 championship mean that we have moved up to 8th place in the Formula 600 championship.
FORMULA 600 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (AFTER 6 OF 7 ROUNDS) - TOP 10
Lloyd Shelley 45
Jamie Pearson 39
Rich Baker 38
Matt Zschiesche 30
Carl Booth 28
Chris Sammons 27
Stephen Parsons 18
David Carson 12
David Shallcross 12
Scott Stevens 11
MINI SOUND OF THUNDER CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (AFTER 6 OF 7 ROUNDS) - TOP 5
Elliott Williams 85
David Carson 63
Ian Robinson 21
Jason Wilkes 12
Richard Stubbs 12
Our next race meeting is the last of the season - Darley Moor Round 7 and the prestigious "Stars at Darley" event on Sunday 7th October. We have submitted an entry into the prestigious "Stars at Darley" event itself, on our Kawasaki Supersport machine, but even if our entry is accepted our participation in the races will be subject to meeting the qualifying criteria. As always, we'll let you know how we get on! :-)
A selected number of photos from the NG Castle Combe meeting have been added to the website photos page. If you need more, then you will find the full set of 88 photos on our Facebook page, within the Photos from 2018 album.
As a taster here are some of our favourite photos from the weekend - 4 on the Supersport machine and 4 on the Supertwin machine...
That wonderful time of the year is upon us again - when it is time to visit Castle Combe for their annual Grand National motorcycle event. This is the third time that we have entered the event and it never fails to entertain and impress!
We headed off on our 168-mile journey from Northwich on the Friday morning and managed to set-up near what is becoming our "usual spot" by the scruitineering bay, ready for the two-day event that is run by NG Road Racing.
After the usual setup and scruitineering procedures had been done, we headed off for a look around the paddock at some of the "exotica" on offer...
An 08:40 practice session on the Kawasaki Supersport machine meant that we were out of bed nice and early on Saturday morning, with the Kawasaki Supertwin practice coming shortly afterwards.
We used the practice sessions to bed in new tyres and new brake pads and put in a best lap of 1’23.6. Our best ever lap around Castle Combe is a 1’20.1 - which was set on the Kawasaki Supertwin during our 2014 visit and then matched during our 2017 visit. So our target for the weekend was to finally break underneath the 1’20 barrier!
Out into the Supertwin qualifying session and we set a new Personal Best lap of 1’20.009 (not quite under the 1’20 barrier!) to take 16th place on the combined grid and took 6th place in the Supertwin class.
The Open 600 qualifying session was an amazing experience. The Kawasaki Supersport machine feels “just right” for Castle Combe - and going through the first corner flat out on the throttle stop in top gear and then watching the gear-change light flashing for a few seconds whilst heading towards turn two really gives a great sensation that you’re shifting! We set a 1’17.770 lap that qualified us in 21st place out of the 42-person grid (top half!), although worthy of note was that there were a number of British championship riders taking part in this event (because the British championship does not visit here) - including two former British champions!
It was now time for the races... At the start of the Supertwin race, we felt good so just kept on pushing harder and harder - and we smashed our 1’20 target and set a new Personal Best lap time of 1’18.798. We also picked up a 7th place finish in the Supertwins race.
The Open 600 race got going well but was red flagged on lap 2, which gave us the opportunity to drop one tooth from the rear sprocket (as we were bouncing off the rev limiter in top gear for many seconds!). After the restart, although the change helped slightly, we were still hitting the rev limiter for several seconds and maxing out at 143.0mph - so considered further gearing changes for Sunday’s races. Even though we were involved in a battle (so couldn’t put in a properly clean lap), we managed to reduce our 600 lap time down to 1’17.284 and finished 17th in the 600 race out of 35 finishers.
Onto Sunday and we had a further four races. Supertwin Race 2 was a solid race. We got down to 1’18.8 lap times (0.1 of a second from our Personal Best times) before the race was red flagged due to a fluid spill on lap 5. The race result was called at that point and we took 8th position in the Supertwins race.
Open 600 Race 2 was very interesting, with a CBR600RR rider highsiding out of turn three on the opening lap (fortunately everyone scattered to avoid him), before a ZX6R engine expired without the rider knowing on the second lap. The rider then completed a full lap of the circuit before the red flag was shown, and produced a smokescreen that James Bond would have been proud of! :-)
At the Open 600 Race 2 restart we got a great launch and were immediately into the groove and put in a new Personal Best lap of 1’15.867 and finished the race in 16th position - 0.8 of a second behind the final points scorer and only 0.007 of a second ahead of 17th place, after messing up the final chicane and having a battle around the last corner on the run the finish line...
The last 650 Supertwin race gave us mixed emotions. It was a solid race with a group of riders having a great battle, but in the group were a mix of different race classes which, this time, didn’t work in my favour. We put in another 1’18.8 lap but we were sure that given a bit of a clearer run that we could have gone slightly quicker... Nevermind! The race itself was fun regardless and only waved yellow flags in the final section of the final lap dampened the fun (as no overtaking is allowed). We finished in 6th place but 5th place was a possibility. And for a change - as we are usually the ones capturing video footage - we feature heavily in John Dudman's video (below) for the first six minutes or so.
The final race of the weekend was Open 600 Race 3. Unusually for this class this weekend, we actually managed to get our full 8 laps in! From the start we settled into a good rhythm and avoided most of the usual first-lap bumping and barging. During the race we set a new Personal Best of 1’15.095 (which we are delighted with!) and even had the rear tyre sliding and drifting on the exit of the third turn on numerous occasions - which is a new experience for us... As a bonus, we finished in 15th place, which gave us a championship point!
It was a fabulous weekend and we leave this event with more great memories of the Castle Combe circuit. Our next event, on Sunday 16th September, will be Darley Moor Round 6 - we'll see you then!
David Carson Jnr,