Due to lucky circumstances, we were able to get a mains-electricity hook-up for the weekend, which made things easier (and quieter!) throughout the weekend. With scrutineering and sign-on out of the way on Friday evening, we did a track walk to check out the freshly-laid billiard-table-smooth tarmac - and then went for refreshments at the Garage 39 bar afterwards.
Our first time to ride on the circuit came in the very first practice session of the day. The weather was overcast and dry but quite chilly, so we took our time getting up to speed. The day before other riders had mentioned that the new surface, being so smooth, gave very little feedback yet provided lots of grip - so we slowly learned to trust that the grip was there as we got quicker and quicker in the practice sessions.
When the Supertwins qualifying session started, the temperature had increased and so had our confidence. It was difficult to find a clear lap in the session with 40+ riders on track, but we managed to put in a couple of clean laps and set a New Personal Best lap time of 1:16.389 to qualify in 2nd place on the combined grid (along with the PreInjection 600s and FPR Supermonos) behind a flying Brody Crockford - who was uncatchable all weekend.
In the Open 600 qualifying session, which again was very busy, we set a New Personal Best lap time for the ZX6R of 1:14.487, which placed us a respectable 7th on the packed grid.
We were now onto the races and first up was Supertwins Race 1. A poor start put us 5th into the first corner (3rd in class), before moving up to 4th (2nd in class) at Hollywood on the opening lap. We then set our targets on the pair of PreInjection 600 riders ahead and managed to catch and pass both to cross the line and finish 2nd on track. We also managed to set a New Personal Best lap time of 1:15.945 during the race.
Our on-track action for Sunday began with Supertwins Race 2. After a couple of aborted starts the race finally began. Another poor start saw us temporarily move down to 8th on track (4th in class), but by the end of the opening lap we had moved back up to 6th on track (3rd in class) just behind Steve Moody. On lap 3 we managed to get an awesome drive out of Coppice corner and moved past Steve. We then chased down PreInjection 600 racer Craig Crossley to move into 4th position on track before getting involved in a fantastically entertaining race through some backmarkers for 3rd position on track with FPR Supermono rider Jay Bellers-Smith. We managed to finished 3rd on track (2nd in class) by just 0.1 of a second! Along the way we managed to set another New Personal Best lap time of 1:15.583.
Another poor start saw us drop to 6th position on track (4th in class) out of the first corner, before closing up to the back of the 'battle for 2nd place' pack by the end of the opening lap. At Craner Curves on lap 2, the engine appeared to lose drive and slow down - looking at the datalogging it appears that the ECU captures a momentary drop in RPM (down to almost zero) before things go back to normal. This issue was not experienced again during the race but cost us ~1.5 seconds on lap 2, meaning we had work to do!
We then put five laps in the 1:15 bracket which allowed us to catch class-rivals Harley Prebble and Alex Sinclair to move up to 3rd on track (2nd in class). Then on final corner of the final lap an aborted overtaking maneuver on a backmarker by Dean Ratcliff allowed us to sneak through to finish in 2nd place overall.
This was a great weekend for us! We walked away with a trio of trophies, secured new Personal Best lap times on both bikes - we were 2.2 seconds quicker on the 600 and 1.6 seconds quicker on the Supertwin - and we scored a handful of championship points!
Open 600 Championship Standings (Top 10)
George Edwards 191
Ricky Elder 186
Michael Rees 89
Jed Bird 77
David Carson 75
Jorge Halliday 45
Tom Weeden 40
Alex Duncan 40
Sam Laidlow 37
Robert Cresswell 36
Supertwins Championship Standings (Top 10)
Brody Crockford 148
Steve Moody 114
David Carson 103
Jamie Ingham 87
Jamie Coward 75
Edward Giles 64
Tony Parker 55
William Holland 49
Paul Williams 45
Alex Sinclair 42
There isn't long to wait for more racing action, as we are out again this coming weekend at Darley Moor Round 2 on Sunday 21st May.