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Darley Moor – Circuit Guide – 1.5 miles
In the latest instalment of circuit guides by Superkart racers we travel to Darley Moor in Derbyshire, home of club motorcycle racing, Superkarting-uk and the celebrated Stars at Darley meeting every October.
Kevin Waring is the lap record holder in the F250 National class at 57.73s 93.54 mph set in October 2009. After a couple of seasons out of the sport, Kevin returned last season but this time in the 125cc Open class. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and netted third place in the British Superkart Association F125 Open Championship. Kevin was using a 2004 F1 chassis with a 125cc rotary engine tuned by Redspeed, generating 43 bhp through a 6-speed gearbox. The total weight including driver and fuel is 190kgs, and he uses Dunlop DES 6” tyres.
Let’s take a lap with Kevin at this airfield circuit.
KW – I approach this first sequence of corners in 4th gear pulling approximately 11,500 rpm. You can touch the edge of the right hand kerb and then it is straight over brushing the left hand kerb. It is essential that you do not use too much of the kerb as it is quite steep and unsettles the kart. Keep off the third right hand kerb at the exit and this allows you to straight line the last part of the chicane. The kerb is much flatter and you can use part of it as you accelerate away and grab 5th gear. I then change into 6th gear for a brief moment as the track drops down towards the next corner. The chicane can be a very busy sequence of corners on the opening lap of a race so a bit of care needs to be taken if you are in mid-pack to make sure to get through smoothly.
KW – Keep to the left of the track in 6th gear as it drops down towards the corner, however, if you are dicing with someone it is a good overtaking point so be mindful of defending your position. It is hard braking as you approach the corner and I come down two gears to 4th so that it doesn’t over rev the engine. Roll through the corner hugging the inside kerb and let the kart run out on the exit. I drop down to 3rd on the exit to allow the engine to pull away from the corner. Accelerate hard and go through the gears grabbing 6th before the next sequence.
KW – The track climbs a bit on the way out of Park Corner so you have to be careful on the gear changes for one of the fastest parts of the circuit. You take the Esses flat in 6th gear pulling 14,400 rpm at approximately 114 mph. It is like threading the eye of a needle. Just touch the edge of the kerbs. If you hit them hard it throws the kart into the air and on landing this could send the kart sideways with nasty consequences. As you leave the last left hand kerb of the sequence aim to the right hand side of the track to set you up for the next corner.
KW – I take a slight lift at this fast left hander, coming down one gear to 5th and hug the inside kerb. There is not much run off on the outside of the corner so you have to be brave and committed through here. I hold the kart in 5th gear on the exit keeping to the left hand side of the track and not letting it run out to the right.
KW – The hairpin is the highest point on the circuit and another ideal overtaking place on the brakes. While the best line is to keep to the left hand side on the approach, look out for a late braking manoeuvre on your right hand side, particularly on the last lap. Approaching in 5th gear, it is then hard on the brakes and down to 1st gear. Slip the clutch as you turn in and hug the inside. There is no kerbing on the apex so the grass is your marker. Let the kart run out to the left on the exit of the hairpin and grab 2nd gear. As the circuit starts to kink to the left select 3rd gear and then go up through the gears to 6th.
KW – The exit from the kink naturally throws the kart out to the centre of the track and you should continue to accelerate down the slight hill along Pope Straight in mid track going up to 6th gear. Once you are past the entry to the access road back to the paddock gradually move across to the left hand side of the track. The tarmac surface is a lot smoother, now that it has been re-surfaced, so you haven’t got to look out for the bumps and can concentrate on the next corner.
KW – There is a marshals post on the right hand side of the track and shortly after there is a surface change. You are pulling 14,500 rpm in 6th gear at approximately 116mph. Keep the kart to the left hand side of the track and just after the surface change brake hard and come down two gears to 4th. This is the last point that anyone can get past you on the lap, so if they weren’t successful at the hairpin they may have towed you down the Pope Straight. Aim for the right hand kerb and roll through the corner, letting the kart run out to the left on the exit. I grab 3rd gear at the exit to provide a punch out of the corner and then up to 4th gear as I cross the finish line in a time of 1m 02.50s, an average speed of 86.40mph.
The Superkart events at Darley Moor are organised by Terry Bateman of Superkarting- UK. Terry runs the Superkart race experience for members of the public to try Superkarts under non-racing conditions. He is also a qualified ARKS examiner, so after trying the half day race experience course if anyone wants to become a race driver they can spend a day at the circuit and complete their ARKS test. Full details are available on www.superkarting-uk.com
Darley Moor airfield was built in 1942 and opened during June 1943. The RAF used it during the Second World War as a training base for No.42 Operational Training Unit. After the war it was used until 1954 for ordnance servicing and storage. The West Midlands Racing Club converted the majority of the RAF concrete runways into the Darley Moor Racetrack and a new surface was laid with events being held on a regular basis from 1965. Karting had made an appearance on the site around 1960 and parts of the original short track can still be seen behind Park Corner. Nowadays Darley Moor circuit is primarily used for motorcycle races and track days run by the Darley Moor Motor Cycle Road race Club with Superkarting-uk running its race school at the venue and clubman race events in conjuction with the motorcycle race meetings.