Along with the majority of the country, Round 6 of the Darley Moor Motorcycle Road Race Championship held on Sunday 26th July, was hit by some pretty miserable weather, with just the first two races of the day being held in the dry.
With this in mind a huge thank you must go out firstly to all the track side marshals who were out in the conditions all day. Without their stamina and will power there would have be no racing, something that several racers acknowledged on the Club’s Facebook page after the meeting.
Despite the conditions the racing stayed safe, with no races required to be ‘Red Flagged’ because of fallers and no serious injuries recorded.
However, amongst the gloomy conditions two ‘rays of sunshine’ are worth a special mention, both in the Formula 125 class, and both aged 13; George Pidcock (Alfreton) and Jorge Halliday (Nottingham). Usually, the class races alongside the Classic machines, but because of rules governing the use of rear lights in wet conditions for modern machinery, Round 6 saw them race alongside the much quicker Formula Darley and 125GP machines.
George Pidcock started road racing at 12 years old, the youngest age possible to take to tarmac, and has scored points at each Round of the Championship to date, his best result being two Runner-up places at Round 4. Whilst Round 6 saw him record 2x 3rd places and strengthens his 2nd place position in the Championship, albeit 49 points behind double winner this weekend, James Hind (Nettleton).
Jorge Halliday, only rode a motorcycle for the first time at his Competitor Training Course, at Darley Moor, on the 29th May 2015. His first Darley Moor race meeting was at Round 4, in which his early lap times were over the two minute mark, in comparison to Hinds 1m 16sec laps, although by the end of the weekend Halliday had reduced his own lap times down to the low 1m 40sec area, all in dry conditions.
This weekend, after a walk around the circuit on Saturday evening with Darley Moor instructor, Chris Sammons, he immediately got below the 1m 40sec barrier
in the dry, but his best lap in the wet second race was an incredible 1m 44sec, recording two 4th place finishes in
Brad Vicars (Tadcaster) recorded two victories in the Formula Darley class, over Championship rival David Carson (Northwich), whilst Brendan Brown (Newcastle under Lyme) took the 125GP class victory in the second race and increased his advantage at the head of the Championship to 13 points, despite not making it to the grid in the first race.
The only other race to enjoy dry conditions was the first Peak Cup race and despite Brown making the better start, leading across the line after the first lap, fellow Newcastle under Lyme rider, Simon Bowyer passed him on Lap 2 and was able to take the victory by over 4sec at the flag. Carl Morris (Derby) followed the pair home in 3rd place, a similar distance behind Brown. A similar pattern was repeated in their second race, but with Brown holding onto the lead until Lap 2, when Bowyer squeezed by.
Brown was then to come under pressure from Morris, who mastered the wet conditions much better, recording the fastest lap of the race whilst chasing Bowyer down, reducing a 4.5sec advantage on Lap 6, down to 1.6sec at the flag in the 10 lap race, the result reducing Bowyer’s deficit to just 11points behind Brown at the head of the table.
Their battles continued in both Open Solo races although the first seemed straightforward for Bowyer, who secured a flag to flag victory ahead of Runner-Up Brown, who had managed to stay just ahead of the battle between Richard Stubbs (Leek) and Julian Tillotson(Bolton).
Stubbs, on a smaller and much older machine, chased the faster starting Tillotson down before passing him on the 4th Lap, who then successfully fended off a challenge from Carl Morris. In the second race it was Brown who made the better start and led for the first couple of laps until Morris passed him on Lap3 and was able to stretch out a lead of 4sec at the flag. Brown then came under pressure, once more from Bowyer, who passed him
on Lap 5 into 2nd spot, but Brown was obviously struggling in the conditions by this point as Stubbs was also able to find a way past two laps later, into 3rd place leaving Brown in 4th.
Stubbs was again out in the Pre98’s class on the same 750cc machine, this time up against another 1000cc machine in the hands of Virgil Stevenson (Derby), although of a similar age on this occasion. In the first race Stevenson secured a flag to flag victory, with Stubbs claiming second place in the (Up to 1300cc) class. In the second encounter Stevenson led from the off once again, but Stubbs was never far behind and on Lap 5 he found a way past and took the chequered flag by just 0.75sec from Stevenson, to record the closest finish of the day.
In the first combined Steel Framed 600/Pre Injection 600 race Dean Ephgrave (Hucknall) took a comfortable ‘flag to flag’ overall victory over Anthony Porter (Chesterfield), both on Steel Framed machines. However, behind these the battle for the Pre Injection honours was totally different. After a quick first lap Chris North (York) had a 3.5sec advantage over Andrew Lowe (Stone), but this was reduced to just 1sec by the end of Lap2 and throughout the remaining laps it was never more than 1.5sec. Despite a huge effort Lowe could not find a way to lead across the line throughout the 8 lap race, finally having to accept the Pre Injection Runner-Up spot by just 0.1sec at the flag!
All change for their second race though, Lowe making no mistakes and leaving everyone in his wake, stretching out a 14sec winning margin over Ephgrave, who had a race long battle with Robert Wise (Stone). Wise had got passed him on Lap5 and started to stretch an advantage, but he failed to complete the final lap, handing the overall Runner-Up spot to Ephgrave and the Steel Framed victory, with Porter 3rd and North 4th overall, taking
respective Runner-Up places in their own classes.
The Sound of Thunder races gave David Carson and Brad Vicars the opportunity to battle it out again on their Mini Sound of Thunder machines. Although in the first race Carson made a much poorer start, finishing Lap1 in 9th place compared to Vicars’ 4th spot, by mid race distance Carson was following him on track, but not close enough to make a pass, allowing Vicars the class victory.
At the head of the field there was a terrific battle for
honours in Sound of Thunder class, three riders took their turn at the front and for all but the final rider it ended
in disaster. Lloyd Shelley (Burntwood), Paul Gibbs (Buxton) and Matthew Harwood (Snelston), Shelley led for the first four laps, until Gibbs squeezed passed on the fifth lap, Shelley then failed to complete Lap 6, then Gibbs failed to finish Lap 7, allowing Harwood to take the Overall victory. The trio then changed things totally for their second encounter, Shelley making no mistakes at all, taking a flag to flag victory, whilst Gibbs had to fend off the challenge from Harwood until he failed to complete the fifth lap.
The Formula 600 results show that Shelley had similar success in these, but this was only the case for the second race. The first race involved a race long battle with another rider, which would have certainly kept the crowd entertained, Shelley finally hitting the front on the penultimate lap and holding on until the flag. Although after the race the other rider was disqualified following a ‘Technical Infringement’.
In the Sidecar races Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (Sutton Coldfield/Lincolnshire) mastered the conditions on their 600cc outfit and claimed a perfect record, leading every lap and setting the fastest lap in both races, proving that sometimes horsepower isn’t everything. In the 1000cc class Dave Thomas/Neil Aslaksen (Birkenhead) and Tony Thompson/Stu Lacey (Wirral/Derby) shared a class victory and runner-up place each.
With a total of 54 points left at stake two of the Championships have already been won; Brian Prescott (Burton on Trent) is Classic 350 Champion and Jamie O’Brien (Liverpool) Classic 1000 Champion, but the remaining classes could still have a huge change around at the very end of the season.
Round 7 is scheduled for Sunday 20th September and will be in the same format as the previous rounds, but Round 8 is the ‘Stars at Darley’ meeting and the Championship classes only have one longer race each, but with quadruple points on offer, 36 points for the win!