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.
Here are some photos from the opening Darley Moor meeting of 2020, taken by official Darley photographer Tony Else...
We'll start with some great news - following our recent announcement advising that we have reached 100 club race wins, we are now proud to announce that we have won a club race in each of the past four decades - 1990s, 2000s, 2010s & 2020s :-)
The planned Round 5 of the Darley Moor championship became the opening round of the non-championship 2020 Darley Moor season. In a COVID-friendly way we arrived and setup on Friday evening, next to fellow Northwich rider Tim Poole, before going for a track walk in the evening.
Saturday hosted a 6-session test day. Once out onto track we noticed that the new 180/60 profile rear tyre that was fit at the No Limits Oulton Park meeting had increased overall gearing by 2.86% compared to the former 180/55 profile tyre, so we added 1 tooth to the rear sprocket to reduce the gearing by 2.17% - this resulted in an overall 0.67% higher gearing than when we attended the Loose Cannon Darley Moor track day in July, but seemed to be OK. With three sessions completed and everything working as it should, we decided to park up the Supersport machine for the day.
After the lunch break we took the Supertwin out for a session. Apart from a minor adjustment to the front brake biting point, everything felt fine so we also parked that bike up for the day and then went through scruitineering/signon and prepared both bikes ready for the Sunday qualifying sessions.
On Saturday evening we went for another track walk and managed to catch some photos of the circuit looking quite pretty!
The arrival of race day brought a choice - with two bikes but only one GoPro camera available following the demise of a camera at Oulton Park. As we had more races on the Supertwin we decided to run the camera on that bike. As it happened, the more interesting footage would have been captured during the Formula 600 races - but my crystal ball let me down once again... ;-)
Our order of "on track action" for the day was: Supertwin, Supersport, Supertwin, Supersport, Supertwin, Supersport, Supertwin - so it couldn't be more varied! Out into the first qualifying session and we struggled to find a clear lap in the Twins session - but our best lap of 1'03.81 was enough to be fastest in class, albeit 5th on the combined starting grid. The Formula 600 qualifying went better but (for whatever reason) we weren't really feeling it and only managed to post a 59.92 - but this turned out to be good enough for 3rd place on the grid, which made us feel better.
Our first race of the weekend was also the first race of the day (and the year!) in the 10-lap Allcomers race. For this race the grid positions are pulled "out of a hat" and we managed to pull Pole Position for the opening race of the year, ahead of 17 other competitors - long may our good luck continue! ;-)
Following a good start, we moved into the race lead on the approach to Park corner on the opening lap and then just lapped as fast as we could - picking up the fastest lap of the race along the way. After 10 laps we won the race by 35.50 seconds and had lapped everyone up to 7th position.
The next race was Formula 600 Race 1, which directly followed the Kart race. Due to a kart being recovered we spent an extended amount of time in the assembly area before getting onto track. When the race started an unfortunate crash occurred at the Wilson's chicane involving Jason Wilkes and Jamie Horner which brought out the red flag. Jason was taken to hospital as he had a number of injuries - including a broken toe and fractured cheekbones. All of us at Two Daves Racing would like to wish Jason a quick recovery!
When the race was restarted, the sighting lap did not provide enough time for our tyres to warm properly, so we sacrificed the first two laps to ensure everything was back up to temperature before we started pushing on - unfortunately this meant that we dropped back to 6th position. On the last lap we tried to make up some positions but it was all too little too late. A last-corner, last-lap tussle with David Glossop saw us crossing the finishing line in exactly the same time - classifying us with a joint 5th place finish. One glimmer of hope was that we were one of only 3 racers that lapped in under a minute.
After a gap of just one race, we were back out on track in Twins Race 1. This was a fairly lonely race where we settled into a '5th place on track' position with some PreInjection 600 guys ahead of us. At the end of the 6-lap race there was a 7-second gap ahead of us and a 7-second gap behind us! We took the win and the fastest lap for the Twins class from Richard Hunt in 2nd and James Barnett in 3rd.
Once into the lunch break we had a visit from Dave Graham who dropped off some KitKat Chunky bars - which made the day even sweeter :-)
Out into the 8-lap Formula 600 Race 2 and we got involved in a group battle once more, which made it a struggled for us to put in clean laps. We retained our 5th place starting position for the first 4 laps, before moving passed Tim Walsh on lap 5 into 4th place, just behind Ben Rea. Following Ben Rea was tough as he's lighter and accelerated more quickly than us (ahem, I blame COVID lockdown for the additional ballast...), but on the last lap we made a decent enough exit from the hairpin that we were able to make a scruffy but successful pass at the last corner to cross the line in 3rd place!
Our final race of the day was Twins Race 2, where we were able to create a gap and then take a comfortable win by 14 seconds from Richard Hunt in 2nd, with Anthony Thane taking the final podium spot.
Unlike in 2019, this season trophies were given for the first races of the day - so we walked away with a couple of 1st place trophies. It has been a great return to Darley Moor!
Our next race meeting will also be our final race meeting of the 2020 season - at the two-day race meeting of Darley Moor Rounds 6 & 7 on Saturday/Sunday 10th-11th October 2020.
Two Daves Racing are proud to announce that we have reached the milestone of 100 Race Wins at club level! This tally of race wins has taken 25 years to achieve - via 11 club championships, with 4 different clubs, using 5 different bikes! The accumulation of race wins over time is demonstrated by the charts below.
Coming into the 2020 season we believed we had reached a total of 98 race wins, but some misplaced (and later recovered) result sheets from the 2017 season mean that we actually reached this milestone at the 2019 Darley Moor Round 6 meeting, with our first ever Formula 600 race win being our 100th race win - making that particular race win even more special!
To commemorate this occasion, we designed a one-off t-shirt - which will occasionally be worn around the paddock through the remainder of 2020 :-)
Shown below are the bikes that helped us to achieve this milestone.
We would sincerely like to thank EVERYBODY that has helped to made this milestone possible - but here are a few special mentions...
Dave Carson Snr - for introducing us to the fantastic sport of motorcycle racing
Steph Carson - for letting Dave Snr do it ;-)
Lorna Carson - for joining me on the journey
Nana Carson - for kind use of her garage when we restarted racing in 2008
Sam Pointon - for kind use of his driveway for caravan storage
Adam Heywood - for his help in securing product sponsorship
Michael Mulvaney - for his sponsorship that allowed us to build the team into what it is today
At long last, it was finally time for our first race meeting of the 2020 season! We last raced at Oulton Park over 6 years ago, despite living less than 30 minutes away from this great circuit.
Setting off with big smiles on our faces, it wasn't long before a series of issues was sent to test us - with caravan problems (overrun brake, fridge and water pump), a running generator not outputting any power (despite working perfectly when we put it away a few weeks ago) and a rare failure during scrutineering of the Kawasaki Supertwin.
A gentle drive to the circuit, the use of a coolbox and Dave Snr working his magic on the water pump worked around the caravan problems. Darley Moor regular Stuart Fitton came to the rescue with use of a generator for the weekend, as he had managed to secure the use of a garage. The scruitineering failure was due to a new No Limits club rule that we weren't aware of - whereby all engine cases required a secondary cover - and despite the fact that the Kawasaki Supertwin would need to wear through a crash bung, exhaust, footrest and fairing to get near the clutch cover - it was still deemed as necessary. We realised that the spare engine had one fitted, so a quick trip back to Two Daves Racing HQ had that final issue sorted. The weekend starts here...
Despite social distancing regulations, the meeting was a very social affair. Over the weekend we managed to catch up with Kyle Ryde, James Powell, Ian Morgan, Matt Waldron, James Ellison, Dijon Compton, Jed & Richard Fogg, Joel Cooper (who has supplied the majority of the fantastic riding photos used within this review) and we also introduced ourselves to some of the Northwich Bikers.
The Friday consisted of morning testing and afternoon qualifying. We took part in 3 test sessions on the Kawasaki ZX6R Supersport machine in sweltering conditions, and got faster every session. During the test sessions we finally migrated across to using our new RST new gloves. We closely monitored running temperatures following installation of the Kawasaki ZX6R Supersport lower radiator expansion, with the highest running temperature seen being 76 degrees. The Kawasaki Supertwin with it's own big radiator ran at a maximum of 82 degrees, so we're very happy with it's performance as other riders were seeing engine water temperatures in excess of 100 degrees this weekend.
The first qualifying session was for the Pirelli Super Series 600 class. Prior to the session we had set a personal goal to circulate under the 1'50 bracket - so a target had been set! When the assembly area gates opened, almost all of the 40 qualifiers rushed out at once. Not wanting to get stuck in traffic, we held back for around 20 seconds and then headed out onto track. We were able to complete 5 laps (4 flying laps) without barely coming across another rider and set a fastest lap of 1'50.327 which put us 20th place on the combined grid.
Out into the Supertwin qualifying session - which was the first time that the bike had been used this year - we only managed to put in 3 flying laps due to a red flag during the session. Not having ridden the Supertwin posed a challenge, even down to the simple things like "What gear should I be in for this corner?".
One lap when approaching the Hislop chicane, a rapid series of downshifts from 6th to 2nd gear locked up the rear wheel and overwhelmed the slipper clutch, causing the rear tyre to screech and slide from side-to-side. We eased off the brakes, got the bike pointing straight and then run across the grass at Hislops - rejoining close to Knickerbrook. A good learning experience! Our best lap time of 1'57.154 was enough to qualify 5th on the grid (4th in class), but our 'ideal lap' was shown as a 1'56.497 so there was still more to come.
On Friday evening we treated the Kawasaki ZX6R Supersport machine to a new dry rear tyre. After 150+ laps of the 2020 testing regime it was starting to feel a little worn, so a new one was fitted. The 150+ lap front tyre was still feeling good, so that carried on to fight another day! With the bikes cleaned and ready for Saturday race day, it was then time for a quick trip to the paddock bar.
We took part in the emergency Saturday morning practice session to scrub in the new rear tyre. To take part in the practice session you needed to collect a pass from the race office on the Saturday morning - it's been a while since I've seen so many people wandering around the paddock at 7am, as there must have been 60-70 people at the race office! During the morning session some riders were pushing very hard and two people had quite fast crashes, giving them a busy morning to prepare for the races ahead.
When we started 600 Race 1 it was madness through the first few corners, with a lot of bumping and barging. Being conservative, by the end of the opening lap we had been pushed back to 25th place. We got our head down, picked off a few people and at the end we finished 19th on track (13th in class), setting a new Personal Best lap time of 1'50.152 - good but not quite achieving our target.
We quickly headed into the paddock and switched bikes as we were straight out into Supertwin race. Going straight out had both good and bad elements - the bad was that we were a bit knackered but the good was that we were already up to speed after pushing 100% just a few minutes earlier. A good start meant that we maintained 5th place on the first lap, before moving up to 4th place by the end of lap 2. We put in a series of solid laps and eventually finished 4th on track (4th in class), with a new Personal Best lap time of 1'55.004 on the Supertwin.
Onto the second set of races, we realised that No Limits base the next starting grid based on fastest laps (rather than previous results), so we started 600 Race 2 from 24th on the grid. An OK start but tentative first lap saw us drop to 26th by the end of the opening lap, but a strong run of laps saw us catching and passing people to finished in 24th position on track (13th in class). We also set another new Personal Best lap time of 1'49.763 to meet our target!
Once again, we were straight out into Supertwin race - this time from 4th on the grid. After an initial great start, we pulled a wheelie so changed gear but found Neutral! After a quick shift into 2nd gear we found ourselves sinking backwards through the field. An attempt to go around the outside of the pack at the first corner was thwarted when we were pushed onto the rumble strips, and we headed towards Cascades in 7th or 8th position. We slowly fought our way through the pack, setting another new Personal Best lap time of 1'54.207 along the way. On lap 5 we caught 5th place and performed an 'around the outside at Cascades' move that impressed even ourselves, and we crossed the chequered flag in 4th place!
This was a fantastic and thouroughly enjoyable weekend. We walk away with a few things to fix, but both bikes are running great. Our next outing will be at Darley Moor Round 5 (including the test day) on Saturday/Sunday 12th-13th September.
David Carson Jnr,