Friday Test Day
Unexpectedly, it rained overnight. When we awoke it was wet but drying quickly, so we decided to give the opening session a miss, as there was no daytime rain planned for the weekend.
In session 2 we went out on the Aprilia RS660 and were surprised by how tight and twisty the circuit was - as our memory of the track was that it was open and flowing. For session 3 we decided to follow and video Daniel Nurrish to see whether the footage could help Daniel to improve.
After the lunch break we then went out on Kawasaki ZX6R, which seemed a lot more hectic but the lap time was not much quicker. By the end of the test day we had got down to a 1:15.2 lap time, which we were happy with.
Saturday Race Day
We had a practice session on each bike, then headed into qualifying. As expected, we were getting quicker every time we went out. In the Open 600 session, we qualified 7th in class (8th on combined grid) with a 1:13.864 lap. Shortly afterwards we headed out in the Supertwin session and set a lap time of 1:14.718 which was quickest in the session until Mark Hughes put in a 1:14.700 (just 0.018 of a second quicker!) on his final lap. We would start from 5th place on the combined grid (2nd in class).
Our first race was Open 600 Race 1. As expected, when the lights went out the pace was hot from the start. We spent the first part of the race behind Bevan Plumley, until we made a move on lap 5 and put in a series of solid laps to finish in 7th place. We set a new Personal Best Lap of 1:13.696 on the final lap.
Our only other race on Saturday was Supertwins Race 1. After an initial strong start the race was red flagged due to a crash and oil spillage at Peel corner. The race was re-run over 6 laps. We got a decent start and managed to move past Mark Hughes into The Banking on the opening lap. From there we set our sights on racers in the other classes - making a move on PI600-racer Thomas Pickford, then later a move on Honda-SP1-mounted Nick Williamson. Brian Greenfield had cleared off up front but the four of us were having a battle for 2nd-overall on track. At the end of the shortened race, we managed to finish 2nd on track and won the Supertwin class by 0.971 of a second from Mark Hughes. Steve Moody came home in third place. Once again we set our fast lap on the final lap - with a new Supertwin Personal Best lap of 1:13.886.
Sunday Race Day
We decided to head out on the Aprilia RS660 for the morning warmup - which had mixed classes in and we thought was quite busy. It was only when we saw the results sheet and learned that we were the fastest rider by over 2 seconds that we realised why! We then went to watch Richard Wardle and Daniel Nurrish who were in the following warmup session, but both riders decided to pull in early, so we didn't get to see much. It turned out that Richard lost a brake pad pin (along with a couple of pads), so was lucky to survive unscathed. As we had the same thing happen to us at Cadwell Park, we had some spare so lent one to Richard so that he could continue his day.
The first race of the day was Open 600 Race 2. After a good start to the race put us in a decent position, we pushed on hard but had a couple of minor slides in the opening laps and the bike was feeling loose. We thought we were lapping slowly but a quick glance at the onboard laptimer mid-race showed that we were going faster than ever before! We weren't in a position to comfortably push any harder, so decided to attempt to maintain our pace until the flag. This worked well and no-one caught us. Coming into the last corner on the last lap we saw that Richard Wardle had crashed, which elevated us to 5th position in class at the chequered flag. During the race we set a new Personal Best Lap of 1:13.357.
Richard then sat in the corner and tried to work out every possible permutation to see where he would need to finish - made more difficult by the fact that he would have to start the race from the back of the grid...
Out into 10-lap Open 600 Race 3 and we got a fantastic start and moved into 5th position. As we were in such a great position we pushed as hard as we could but were over-riding and before long our hands started to ache as we were holding on for dear life... We knew that sooner or later Richard would be coming by, so kept our eyes peeled for an angry fast bloke on a red bike! Sure enough it only took until lap 3 for Richard to appear and just as he came past Scott Keys unfortunately crashed at the fast Church corner (note: we spoke to Scott later and he was unhurt thankfully).
On lap 3 Mark Walker also came past us, relegating us to 6th position. We took a quick look behind to see if there was a queue of other racers behind but there was some clear space - which allowed us to relax just a little - and we were able to recompose ourselves and put in some quick laps once again. By mid-race Ricard was suffering from some issues with downshifts, so backed off the pace, which allowed us to retake 5th position in the race - which we kept to the flag! We were happy with our fastest lap of 1:13.858 during the race. On return to the paddock, our awning filled with smoke when Richard did a burnout to celebrate securing the "vice-champion" position.
The sun was shining and the views out to sea were magnificent - but the Traction Control was intervening at both Peel corner and Church corner, which slowed us down (both mentally and physically). At the end of 10 laps, we won the race by 14.325 seconds. Steve Moody finished in second and Edward Giles took the final podium spot. Our fastest lap was 1:14.029.
With the NG Road Racing season coming to a close, the final standings look as follows. We are super happy that we managed to secure a Top 10 finish in the Open 600 championship standings - finishing the year in 7th place:
NG "SMW Ltd Supertwin" Final Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 378
2nd - Edward Giles 245
3rd - Steve Moody 217
4th - William Holland 90
5th - Paul Williams 75
NG "IMS Open 600" Final Championship Standings (Top 8)
1st - George Edwards 381
2nd - Richard Wardle 217
3rd - Scott Key 196
4th - Shane Faber 150
5th - James Bull 148
6th - Lewis Jones 115
7th - David Carson 110
8th - Ross Walker 98
Our next race event will be the last of our season - the prestigious "Stars at Darley" event, incorporating Rounds 7 & 8 of the club championships. As a reminder, the Darley Moor championship standings look as follows - with a maximum of 30 points in each championship still available:
Darley Moor "700cc Twins" Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - David Carson 75
2nd - Ian Robinson 34
2nd - Patrick Lord 34
4th - Ben Wilkinson 28
5th - Chris Barton 22
5th - Eddy Wormald 22
Darley Moor "Formula 600" Championship Standings (Top 5)
1st - Ben Dale 73
2nd - David Carson 43
3rd - Richard Cooper 30
4th - Stephen Parsons 27
5th - Albert Walker 22