Since our last update we performed some last-minute jobs to prepare the bikes for race action - like fitting new dry tyres, changing the coolant for water, stocking up the caravan, buying plenty of super unleaded fuel, etc - but the major issue that arose was "How will we get to the circuit?"...
Our trusty yellow van had become poorly and required some new parts - which would not arrive in time to be fixed for the weekend - but we managed to source a replacement van via Chris Parker of Parker's Knutsford Removals.
The replacement van was plenty big enough for the bikes and our usual gear, but the lack of a tow bar meant that we would not have use of our caravan for the weekend. Due to this, we decided to travel to the circuit on the morning of the test day.
Saturday Test Day
We arrived at the sodden circuit just before 8am, then setup our awning and did our best to sweep out as much standing water as possible, before converting the back of the van into "daytime mode".
Leading up to the test day, the weather forecast showed a mainly dry day - but it unfortunately turned out to be a washout. After succumbing to the fact that we wouldn't get any dry track time (around noon), we fit the wet tyres and headed out for a couple of sessions - just to check that there were no obvious issues present after the engine rebuilds.
The test day was the first chance that we had to try out the Continental wet tyres. Due to loving Continental's dry tyres we held high hopes for the wets, but the very low temperatures (both air and track) combined with their slightly harder compound compared to the Bridgestones we have used over the past few seasons meant that we struggled to adapt to them.
After scrutineering and sign-on activities were completed, it was then time to convert the van into "bedtime mode"...
Sunday Race Day
After an awful night of sleep in the back of a van - mainly due to the ambient temperature resembling that of a fridge! - we awoke to yet more wet tarmac.
Our ideas of the expected "fully dry" day were immediately gone and it looked like it would be wet until at least the afternoon. After considering our options, we decided to swap the Continental wet tyres for a set of Bridgestone wet tyres that we had in the van (a slightly used front and brand new rear) as we though that putting both bikes onto the same tyres would make life a little easier.
We were out on track in the first session of the day for the 700cc Twins qualifying. The air temperature was around 6C and the circuit was cold, wet and slippery - probably to be expected very usual for March! We set off very steadily to give the new rear tyre a chance to bed in, but at the first corner two bikes had crashed and brought grass/mud onto the circuit - so the session was red flagged. After a short wait the session restarted, but by turn two another rider had fallen! By this point we had decided to build pace very slowly to try to give the tyres a chance to build some heat. We steadily went quicker and quicker and by the end of the session had set pole position for the 700cc Twins class.
We were then straight out again for the joint Formula 600 and Darley Cup qualifying session. Once again we built up speed slowly and on the final lap of qualifying were on for an even quicker time, but were held up by a slower rider through the back esses. We qualified in 2nd position for the Formula 600 and Darley Cup races, which we were happy with. Unfortunately, Daniel Nurrish wasn't quite as lucky and had crashed during the session - but the rider was OK and the machine was repairable.
After the race we learned some bad news though, as Daniel Nurrish who had rushed to repair his Yamaha R6 had fallen again on the sighting lap due to insufficient heat in his tyres. This second crash of the day signalled the end of the day for Daniel, who suffered a hand/wrist injury. We wish Daniel all the best on his recovery and hope to see him at the track again soon!
Straight after the lunch break we were into the points/trophy races. Our three victories in the morning meant that we would start from pole position for each of the points races.
The first points race was in Darley Cup Race 2. Another good start, followed by some clean laps, meant that we created a gap to the other competitors of 25.87 seconds at the end of the 10-lap race to take another win. We once again set the fastest lap of the race, but despite trying to break the 1-minute barrier we could only get down to a 1'00.27. The new track surface at Park corner, combined with the high wind and low temperatures was making setting quicker lap times extremely difficult.
Darley Cup Championship (Top 5)
1st: David Carson 15
2nd: Adam Green 12
3rd: Andy Sellars 10
4th: Patrick Lord 8
5th: Lee Whitehouse 6
Formula 600 Championship (Top 5)
1st: David Carson 15
2nd: Matthew Rostron 12
3rd: Adam Green 10
4th: Adam Mather 8
5th: Jack Worth 6
700cc Twins Championship (Top 5)
1st: David Carson 15
2nd: Andy Whale 12
3rd: Anthony Thane 10
4th: Matthew Birks 8
5th: Ben Wilkinson 6
Fortunately there isn't long to wait until our next race though, as our maiden visit to the Croft circuit will be taking place this coming weekend. This is a non-championship event for us, so hopefully we'll just be able to relax and enjoy the time on circuit! We'll let you know how we get on... :-)