The early May Bank Holiday Monday, saw the team return to the Derbyshire Circuit, for round 2 of the Darley Moor Championship.
The 2019 season got off with a promising start, having already visited Darley Moor, for their test day and Round 1, combined with more time on the outfit at Oulton Park this season, the boys were feeling comfortable on the outfit, and were looking forward to stretching the outfits legs, improving on what they’d learnt at the test day before round 1.
Monday morning, and it was the typical bank holiday weather, overcast, cool, and the occasional very light shower, but nothing to concern themselves with – especially after their last visit at Oulton Park.
Timed practice was called, and the lads headed up for noise testing, before waiting in the collection area to start their session. Managing to be the first outfit of 13 or so at the meeting, into the collection area, making them first out on track. Ste & Dave had discussed their last visit, where they felt comfortable, and had agreed a plan of action for the practice session.
The outfits were released, with Ste & Dave were first out, they made the most of the clear circuit, making a strong start from the beginning, managing to set a 1:12.00 on their 3rd lap, before the session was red flagged following an incident.
In the confusion Ste started to make his way down the access road back towards the paddock, however the session looked to be restarted once the circuit was clear. A firm tap on the back from Dave, and the lads swung round and made their way back onto the grid. Having been reasonably pleased with their pace at the start of the session, Dave suggested perhaps starting at the back of the grid, and do a ‘practice start’ when the session restarted. With few opportunities to practice race starts, Ste agreed and the outfit was wheeled back in preparation.
The boys remained out for the remainder of the session. Returning to the paddock conversation quickly turned to discuss the session. Neither Ste of Dave felt that it was particularly quicker than usual. However both noted that nobody passed them in the first half, Dave looking back only saw a glimpse of George Holdens outfit in the distance.
The 1:12.00 lap wasn’t particularly impressive, and similar to their previous times. Old foes, Crowe/Williams would be lining up next to the on the grid, with a qualifying time of 1:12.02.
Race one was called, early afternoon. Both Ste & Dave were relaxed, and calm. Race one didn’t count towards the championship but a good result would put them in a better position for points & trophy race.
The lights went out, and Ste & Dave made a blistering start, through the first chicane without incident, positioned 5th on the track. Down into Park Corner the F1 outfit of Green Ant was ahead, and for a split second it looked like Ste was going to attempt a pass, but Ant shut the door, but the boys took chase after them.
Lap 2 saw the boys loose a position on the track dropping down to 6th, but holding 3rd in the F2 class, with a 2 second gap lead on the outfit of Alflatt/Gorman. That was until the end of Lap 3, where the boys entered the hairpin, with the wrong gear selected, resulting in poor acceleration out of the hairpin and down the back straight. Alflatt/Gorman seized the opportunity, resulting in a drag race down to paddock corner.
Watching some of the footage back from spectators along the back straight, the boys held the lead past the opening for the return road, but Alflatt/Gorman tucked up the inside, pinching 3rd in class. Steve responded immediately and the chase was on to reclaim the position. Unfortunately the same mistake was repeated again at the hairpin, which saw Alflatt/Gorman open the gap, as they consistently lapped in the 1:09’s for the duration of the race.
The boys returned to the paddock, their faces beaming with joy. Both agreed that was an excellent race, and was the first time they’d really been in the mix in a race, and battling for position. Both were delighted with the 4th in class, their best result to date, and huge step forward from last season, even knocking their lap times down to a 1:11.4.
Race 2 was called, the boys were now alongside Alflatt/Gorman on the 3rd row of the grid. Ste quietly put himself under pressure, knowing that a good start was key to getting a lead over the experienced Alflatt/Gorman pairing. The lights went out, and Ste dropped the clutch, only for the front wheel to reach skywards. Resulting the clutch being pulled back in, the front wheel crashing down, before finally making a launch, with the outfit of Crowe/Williams who started from the back of the grid now alongside.
Ste made an excellent recovery, by the end of the 1st lap had closed the gap, and on the tail of Alflatt/Gorman, the race was on. Alflatt/Gorman, made a pass on the F1 outfit #188 of Best/Slater, into Park Corner, powering off upto the esses.
Ste and Dave knew they had to make an immediate response to their move, before the gap opened. Exiting Park Corner, Ste kept on the tail of the F1, hoping to get the nose in front before Esses… it was close a close call in to Esses, uncertain whether Best/Slater knew of their presence, decided the safer option would be to attack again once both outfits had negotiated Esses and the Hairpin.
With the F1’s superior straight line speed, and more power, it was a challenge and hard work keeping with them, yoyoing from corner to corner.
It was an arduous 10 lap race, Alflatt/Gorman, once again showed their experience and racecraft, putting the F1 between us held us back enough for them to open the gap.
Lap times again dropped this time to 1:10.45.
Both Ste & Dave left Darley Moor in high spirits, the first race was the pinnacle of the weekend, the first time the team had been in the mix, and racing alongside some accomplished and experienced teams.
Whilst race 2 didn’t go entirely as we’d hoped, there were positives to come from that.
Again lots of encouraging words from other teams, and compliments about the outfits performance. Ste & Dave are now starting to click, and anticipate what each other are going to do.
The team left Darley Moor, currently holding 3rd in the championship, with a 3pt gap to 2nd spot, and 1pt clear of 4th, whilst Alflatt & Gorman are joint 7th having missed one of the two rounds.