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Well, the first weekends racing soon arrived and I have to say it felt like it came maybe too soon, as to be honest I felt a little unprepared!!

We opted to run the Saturday test day as it has been seven years since we raced there and the last time we did, I smashed myself and my friends bike to pieces at the very fast back essess, so not the best memory to start with!! We ran some old tyres on the Saturday, as I knew I would be a bit off the pace, we also ran the same gearing as Oulton park from our first test day. First session was OK, a little damp on the back straight but, OK none the less...

I forgot how fast Darley Moor is and the first session showed a couple of issues, first the gearing was OK right now, but we were only doing 1min 5second laps, so when/if I got down to some respectable times (1min 3sec’ish) it would be out. The bike was about 400revs off the rev limit in top gear, that’s how fast Darley Moor is, even on an ER650, your touching 135mph down the back straight and around 100mph through the back essess...very fast!

We continued with the same gearing for a few more sessions as the times weren’t particularly dropping in huge chunks, so concentrated on the bike and set up. We had to add some more pre-load to the front forks as it is so heavy on the breaks into the last turn and into the hairpin, plus also a touch of ride height on the rear to make it faster through the essses..the bike was faultless, for all the hassle through the build she was spot on, we really couldn’t fault it.

The afternoons sessions went well, the times dropped into the 1min4’s, so we were heading in the right direction, but it was apparent the gearing needed changing, down side was we didn’t have the sprockets to change to...so I set upon a scrounging mission, luckily Dave Carson kindly borrowed us a 15tooth front to try. It was better and we were now off the limiter, down side was more shifts through the turns, we really could of done with a 46tooth for the rear as well, but that didn’t happen, lesson to be learnt for next time!!!



Overall we were happy with the day, the bike was good, I was OK’ish and felt like I wasn’t too far off the pace, my thoughts said with some fresh tyres and in a race situation, I could get down to 1min 3seconds, hopefully...fingers crossed?? So we cleaned the bike, fitted some new rubber, some new brake pads and  got her scrutineered ready for the morning..

So, my first race day in 18 months...how did I fell? I was bricking it, so nervous, I felt like a novice all over again. We had a ten minute qualifying session to set the grid for the races and we needed to scrub in the new tyres and the brake pads, so we would only really get a couple of flying laps. We managed a 1min 4sec, which put us on the front row in fourth place, not bad, but I somehow thought I might of gone quicker??

We now waited till the first race, which felt like an eternity, but we were out in race two, so it wasn’t!!! I was really nervous, lots of pre-race wee’s...lots!! so here it is, the first race, we lined up on the front row, heart pounding out of my chest....visor down, first gear selected and I looked up the track, focusing on the first essess...hold on a second, where’s the lights...really where are the lights, I genuinely couldn’t see them...a moment of humour, I thought I’ll just go when everyone else does...brilliant?!?!? then they came on near the first essess...laughing!! seriously funny!! The lights went out and off we shot, I had an average start and slotted into 3rd place behind James Ford and Brad Vicars, down to park, hard on the brakes and still in third..OK this is not bad I thought to myself, I can do this...maybe?? up to the back esses at race pace....jeez, this is quick, I rattled of the curbs and was still with the leaders, through the left hander (this is a proper scary corner, there is literally 10metres of runoff then a tyre wall, whilst at 70mph!!!) and heading to the 180degree hairpin, Brad forced a move up the inside of James but they both ran wide...I let off the brakes and tried to dive up the inside of them both, I got past James, but Brad’s bike picked up and fired out of the corner like a scalded cat....I buried my head behind the fairing and did the best I can to get the little ER up to speed, but this was a decidedly short 2nd place, James’s bike simply fired past mine, like I was stood still, this was my first taste of how fast some of the other bikes were, and they were bloody fast (later found out the James’s bike is an ex Ryan Farquhar) I pushed really hard for the following laps, but was really having to ride the wheels of the little Kwak, the amount of mistakes I was made was shocking, but simply a side order from a slow bike being ridden too hard!! I finished in 4th place, which I guess was OK, but I felt like I should of done better, my fastest lap was a 1min 2seconds flat, the leaders were doing 1min 1’s...I need more power!!

We spoke to the front runners after the race to find that they had some serious power, (circa 90bhp!!!) so this made me feel a little better about the result, as our ER only makes 70Hp!! So all in the result was OK, we need to get some power from the engine and hopefully that will help with some consistent fast lap times, but the bike performed really well, it handles and stops as it should so with some more horse power we should be a tad closer to the front??

On return to work Monday morning we stripped the Kwak down, removed the engine and have ordered some engine parts to hopefully get us some missing donkeys!! We will fit some high compression pistons, race cams and also do some flow work...all by the next round in three weeks' time!!

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