Following the teams disappointment at Aintree the day before, the team woke with bright eyes and bushy tails. With not real contest within the championship at Darley Moor, they conceded they’d have to let Crowe/Williams finish above them, a bit of a personal blow after the events at the previous meeting there.
With no pressure, the lads ventured out for Practice, intermittent rain fell on their way up to the holding area, but it blew over leaving the track dry for the entire session. It being Dave’s 2nd visit to Darley Moor on board the F2, the plan was simply to build on what they’d already achieved there. Dave was happy with the chicanes, and felt confident they could take the 2nd esses quicker, and the left up to the hairpin.
The first few laps, Dave tried working the chicanes differently to how he’d done previously, hoping to build confidence knowing that there were two tight chicanes at Oulton Park he’d be facing in a few weeks time. Whilst it worked, it was tiring, and this showed as they approached the 2nd chicane, and he struggled to the get into position in time. The chair wheel lifted, and made a beeline for the 3 bollards in the grass. Ste was quick to respond and kept the outfit on the track.
The lad’s came in from practice early, on exiting the hairpin, Ste wound the power on, attempting to change up a gear, the gear wouldn’t engage. Stuggling with the gear shift, he found the gear and headed back to the paddock, after all races aren’t won in practice, and it was best to ensure everything was OK with the motor.
Qualifying 7th overall, it wasn’t too shabby, they’d gone marginally quicker than the last meeting, and spirits were high, and the team were relaxed, with no pressure or expectations from the days racing.
Race 1 was finally called early afternoon, the laps reduced early in the day as a number of incidents delayed the days activities. They lined up on the grid, joined by their foe’s Crowe/Williams… another excellent start and the boys fought their way through the first chicane, and were well in touch with the leading pack and giving a good chase, managing to set an impressive 1:10 lap, some 3 seconds quicker than their practice time!
The lack of time on the outfit became evident, when Ste entered the first right, having not changed down enough gears. The lads carried good corner speed, but winding on the power exiting the corner, the bike bogged down momentarily, and the leading pack pulled away.
After that the race was rather lonely, Crowe/Williams were lapping in the 1:10/1:11’s, but Ste’s belting start and their 1:10 lap at the start gave them a healthy lead over them, despite now with no one to chase dropping the pace.
Ste & Dave chatted with other teams in the Paddock, and despite being ‘competition’ there was lots of advice freely given on how they could go quicker… even from 1 team who felt threatened by their proximity in the race, with them checking behind at the hairpin expecting the lads to make a challenge.
It only being David’s 2nd meeting with Ste at Darley Moor, and Ste being absent most of the season, the lads certainly seem to have got the attention of a few teams… with lots of positive comments on the speed of the outfit, especially down the back straight.
The team packed up camp, they discussed their options as now time was getting on and it was looking more likely they wouldn’t get a 2nd race, or the rain would fall, and there wouldn’t be enough time to fit their wets.
The Rain did fall, a persistent drizzle, the paddock road was damp, and the track similar. There was no standing water. Again after discussing the weather with the other teams, all appeared happy to go out on their slicks.
Ste & Dave agreed they would go out, and if either felt it was dangerous they’d pull off… with nothing to gain from completing the race, the lads went out to gain some experience in the damp conditions, somehow David had managed to avoid a wet race all season!
They got another excellent start, although a small amount of wheel spin from the rear, saw the outfit pull to the left, the tyre gripped and Ste managed to defend the line through the chicane, and power off taking chase after the F1 outfit of Green Ant.
The damp conditions levelled the playing field with Green Ants F1 now unable to lay down all of it’s power in the damp, the lower powered, but quicker turning F2 of Ste’s was keeping pace with them.
Entering the hairpin, Green Ant ran wide, entering a slight spin. Ste ceased the opportunity and they’d gained a position… totally unbeknown to Dave, who was over the other side of the outfit, pushing the rear tyre into the tarmac.
Coming out of the Hairpin, Dave could see an outfit entering Paddock corner, assuming it was Green Ant, he was momentarily confused “How the hell did he get down so quick?”. The penny still didn’t drop that Green Ant was now behind them despite seeing the distinctive Blue/White/Green nose of Green Ant behind them the following lap, assuming they were about to be lapped.
The rain now start falling heavier, with a dramatic slid at the 1st right, Ste rolled off and Green Ant made his pass. Dave looked behind at the 2nd chicane, to see Crowe/Williams were now closing… a little too close for his comfort, leaning forward at the entry to the hairpin, waving his hand beside Ste’s helmet to encourage him to pick the pace up again.
Crossing the start/finish, the last lap flag was waved… if Crowe/Williams were going to make challenge it was going to have to be now. The shear straight line speed of Ste’s outfit created a gap through Paddock corner, and the first chicane, but had closed the gap by the 2nd chicane, showing the nose of their outfit on the outside, Ste closed the door, and entering the left before the hairpin, Dave spotted Crowe/Williams making a charge for the inside line at the hairpin, his instincts from his time passengering BEARS outfits came in handy, quickly throwing himself over the back of the outfit for the hairpin, trying to make himself and the outfit as large as possible.
Crowe thought better of continuing with the challenge, and once again Ste & Dave powered down the straight, taking the chequered flag ahead of Crowe/Williams.
Only on the cool down lap did it become apparent how heavily the rain was now falling, the track was still damp with water collecting in places.
Once back in the Paddock, tempers were a little frayed, the reality that they needed to load the outfit into the trailer in a heavy downpour, then get changed before the long drive home. That said both Ste & Dave were delighted with the race.
They both learnt lots, it would have been easy to load the outfit into the trailer and head home happy with the 1:10 lap and another signature, but both enjoyed the race, and it was certainly a confidence builder, and great preparation for Oulton Park.