Here are some photos from the final Darley Moor meetings of 2020, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
This weekend officially marked the end of our 2020 racing season, seemingly so soon after it had just started. Due to the shortened British Superbike championship series that is still in progress, the organisers had little choice but to cancel the ever-popular "Stars" races - but hopefully they will return once again in 2021!
To take care of a bit of house keeping, we brought back our 2019 championship trophy, along with 12 scrubbed race tyres for Stuart Hall. Once we had setup - and had 3 visits to scrutineering then a visit to the office to signon - we were very pleased to see bumper grids for the weekend: with 17 Twins machines, 26 Formula 600 machines and 30 Allcomers listed in the race programme.
SATURDAY RACE DAY
It rained all through Friday night and Saturday morning, so we swapped over to wets in the morning, as the forecast was for showers all day.
When we went onto the circuit for the Twins qualifying session, the track surface was so cold and wet that the rear wheel was spinning in a straight line as soon as we joined the track (see video below). Returning '2018 Mini Sound of Thunder champion' Elliot Williams crashed at Wilsons Chicane on his first flying lap. We got some heat in the tyres and put in a lap time of 1'16.49 which put us 5th in class (10th on the combined starting grid). Jack Petrie took pole position with a 1'13.05 lap.
The Formula 600 qualifying was next. Knowing the surface was still tricky we took a few laps to warm up the tyres. We qualified in 9th place with a 1'11.10 lap.
As the conditions meant that we were not pushing anywhere near as hard as in the dry, both bikes were feeling very firm at the front. We made some blanket adjustments, taking 3 turns of preload from each front fork leg and reduced the damping adjusters by two clicks each.
It was now time for the races... First up was the Allcomers Race where we picked a 2nd place grid spot from the hat! We started the 10-lap race and spent the first two laps making sure the tyres were correctly up to temperature. As expected, we were passed by several riders during these laps - but once we were comfortable with the bike settings we started to retake some positions, as well as seeing some riders retiring from the race. We began to lap riders on lap 8, so by the time we crossed the line at the end of the 10 laps we didn't know exactly where we had finished! After the race results had been published, we learned that we had been classified as 2nd place finishers in the race - 10.02 seconds behind race winner Joe Connolly.
After a bit of a break, it was time for Formula 600 Race 1. The race was started but soon red flagged due to mud on the circuit. The race was restarted over a shortened distance of just 4 laps. Once restarted, we got into the groove a little quicker this time, but in the short race we finished in 8th place.
Twins Race 1 was soon after. A drying line was starting to appear on the track, but whilst on the starting grid another rain shower occurred. A decent start put us 3rd in class at the end of the opening lap, but by this time Joe Connolly had a 3-second lead. We circulated in 3rd position until lap 4 when Jack Petrie came passed us. From there, we gained a little time then lost a little time from the leaders, eventually crossing the line in 4th place - 3.36 seconds behind race winner Richard Hunt. Joe Connolly got 2nd (just 0.06 of a second behind Richard), with Jack Petrie taking the final podium position. As a consolation, we managed to grab the fastest lap of race on the final lap - but it was too little too late.
Formula 600 Race 2 was up next. It was still cold but the track was now almost dry. There was a mix of tyres in the assembly area, but we were still on a full wet setup. There was a number of delays before the start and some cement dust was down due to an oil leak by a Kart in the previous race.
We got a fabulous start from our 8th position grid spot to enter Wilsons chicane in 3rd place. On lap 2, Ricky Tarren had a small slide at Wilsons chicane, so we nipped passed into 2nd position. We didn't hold that position long as Ricky got us back along the Pope straight. Then on lap 4, Formula 600 Race 1 winner Harry Jackson also came passed, demoting us to 4th place. For the remaining 4 laps we rode as hard as we could on the overheating wet tyres and managed to cross the line in 4th place, which we were very happy with given our day so far. We also won a trophy!
Our final race of the day was Twins Race 2. We went out on wet tyres but the majority of the grid were now on dry tyres. A poor start put us back to 4th in class by the end of the opening lap - but a series of fastest laps meant that we were soon able to catch our competitors. Entering Townleys on lap 4 was scary as we encountered a backmarker that was out of our field of vision (see video below for that encounter). We managed to take the race lead on lap 5 of 8. The wet tyres were not ideal for the conditions but at the end of the race we crossed the line and took our first win of the weekend! Richard Hunt finished in 2nd place, just 1.80 seconds behind us, with Joe Connolly taking 3rd place just a further 0.46 of a second behind.
With the Saturday races concluded, we stripped the bikes for cleaning/prep for the Sunday races. We also made the switch to dry tyres, as the weather forecast for Sunday was dry all day. The only thing left was air all of our wet clothing, so we didn't have to put on damp gear in the morning!
SUNDAY RACE DAY
The good weather arrived as predicted on Sunday, but it was quite chilly with the temperature only reaching a peak of 12 degrees.
Our first qualifying session was for the Twins class. The conditions were fine but not wanting to do anything silly, we put in a few laps and banked a 1'05.49 lap which was quick enough for 2nd in class, behind Jack Petrie who logged a 1'05.10. This put us 6th on the combined grid.
Soon after, we were out again in the Formula 600 qualifying session. With the bumper 600 grids (both Formula and PreInjection machines), it was hard to get some clear track time. We managed a single clear lap and put in a 1'00.87 which put us 5th on the grid. Ricky Tarren got the pole with a 59.05 lap.
The first race was the Allcomers race, where our luck continued and we picked 7th place grid spot out of the hat - but as no-one picked the grid spot directly ahead of us, we had a clear run to the first chicane. A good start meant that we were 2nd into the Wilsons chicane, then we took the lead going into Park on the opening lap. After 10 action-packed laps, we won the race by 36.17 seconds.
In Formula 600 Race 1 we got a poor start due to releasing the clutch too much and bogging. At the end of the opening lap we were in 8th position. On lap 3 we made a couple of passes and moved up to 6th place and were slowly catching up to Shaun Evans in 5th place, but ran out of laps. But we were one of only 5 racers to lap in under a minute, so that bode well for a potentially better result in the afternoon race.
In Twins Race 1 our onboard lap timer battery expired, so we couldn't gauge our progress. We made a great start and took the class lead into the Wilsons chicane. We pushed as hard as we could, set the fastest lap of the race and at the end of the 6-lap race we took victory by 16.62 seconds from Richard Hunt and Steven Pritchard.
We had an OK start in Formula 600 Race 2, but dropped to 8th place by the end of the opening lap. We worked hard to get up to 5th place by the end of lap 5 (of 8). Then on the final lap when approaching two backmarkers there was a yellow flag shown at Park corner - so we slowed down and didn't pass them until we were passed the green flag, which cost us around 4 seconds. Knowing that our rivals would now have closed any gap we had, we tried hard to put in a perfect last half lap and crossed the line in 5th place.
Our final race of the weekend (and season!) was Twins Race 2. At the start of the race Lee Smith had an impressive jump start that earned him a 10-second penalty. A good start for us saw us lead our class into the Wilsons chicane, then we tried to manage the clutch slip that had been getting worse over the weekend. After putting in a solid first couple of laps we looked behind us on the exit of Park corner on lap 3 and saw Richard Hunt all over our rear wheel, so took the opportunity to move passed PreInjection 600 racer Andrew Blacka when he ran wide at the hairpin and then worked our hardest to put in some fast laps. We did enough, and managed to win the race as well as taking the fastest lap.
Even though it has been a short year, we have still found it enjoyable so will be carrying on next season - 2021 Calendar TBC! Earlier this year we announced that we had achieved 100 race wins, but we have now managed to increase this figure to 108 race wins.
It wasn't all smooth sailing though, as after the race meeting our trusty van broke down on M6 with a (as yet unspecified) fuelling issue. Fortunately, we managed to coax it back to Two Daves Racing HQ at a leisurely 40mph...
And finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my supporters (if you're reading this - then that's you!), Dave Carson Snr, Steph Carson, Lorna Carson & I would particularly like to thank Pomerol Partners, Rock Oil and Holroyd Tyrewarmers for their support.
David Carson Jnr,