Darley Moor Motorcycle Road Race Club’s May Day meeting was almost a mid-season ‘Stars at Darley’ affair with several World Championship and International competitors entering Round 3 of the Club Championship, albeit not eligible to score any points.
Former World Sidecar Champions Ben and Tom Birchall (Mansfield) were enjoying their break from the world stage and testing their 600cc outfit in readiness for the Isle of Man TT.
Whilst the winner of both sidecar races may have been predictable it was very impressive to see John and Jake Lowther (Scunthorpe) ‘up their game’ and try and stay with them. In the first encounter they were just over 6 seconds behind at the flag, but in the second race they had reduced the gap significantly, the winning margin was down to under 3 seconds.
The Peak Cup and Open Solo races also had an International flavour with Lee Johnson (N Ireland) and Daley Mathison (Stockton upon Tees) getting in some extra ‘Stars’ practice in whilst setting their 1000cc machines up for the North West 200 meeting in Ireland later this month.
It quickly became very obvious that Lee Johnson will be a force to be reckoned with at the Stars meeting, winning both Peak Cup and Open Solo races. He dominated the Peak Cup races winning both by over 10 seconds, the first from the in-form Jamie Medhurst (Long Eaton) who managed to get the best out of his 600cc machine and kept Mathison in 3rd place throughout the race.
In the second encounter Brendan Brown (Newcastle under Lyme) got a good start and was in 2nd place at the end of Lap 1, with Mathison and Jim Hodson (Wigan) in his tracks. Lap 2 saw the pair squeeze by Brown, but there was no catching Johnson, his quickest lap being a full two seconds faster than anybody else’s! Mathison was able to stretch out an advantage over Hodson, with Brown holding off Medhurst.
The first Open Solo race was the only time Johnson was headed, after making a poor start he was down in 7th after Lap 1, with Mathison leading from Carl Morris (Derby), Hodson and Brown. Lap 3 saw Johnson pass Brown into 4th place, while Hodson moved into 2nd, ahead of Morris. Two passes put Johnson into 2nd place on Lap 4, then into the lead on the fifth lap and stretching a 1.3sec advantage over Mathison on the final lap, Hodson securing 3rd, Morris 4th and Brown 5th.
Normal service resumed in the final Open Solo race with Johnson finishing over 7 seconds ahead of Mathison, who was a similar distance ahead of Hodson. However, the battle between Brown and Morris ensured the large crowd were entertained,swapping positions until Morris fell whilst holding 4th place, causing the race to be red flagged, handing Brown 4th place.
Unsurprisingly, with the 1000cc machines out of his way, Jamie Medhurst dominated both Formula 600 races and with it taking the Curtis Milner Trophy, in memory of a young racer who started his racing career at Darley Moor, but unfortunately lost his life in a road traffic accident. Only Richard Wardle (Stoke on Trent) was able to put up a close challenge to him, finishing 2nd each time, over 1sec behind at the flag.
Brendan Brown was also in action immediately after each Peak Cup race, but on a totally different machine, swapping his 1000cc four stroke for a 125cc GP machine, with possibly 25% of the power and no more than 50% of the weight, in the combined Formula Darley/125GP race. Unfortunately, although getting the better of Richard Mortimer (Bolton) and Derek Clarke (Hull) on their 125 machines he received a 10second penalty for jumping the start, dropping him back to 3rd, in the class.
Ahead of these three riders David Carson (Northwich) was stretching a lead over Stuart Hall (Rugeley) to take the Formula Darley honours. In the second race Carson was leading but failed to complete Lap2, leaving Hall to take the overall win and Formula Darley class victory, with Brown making a perfect start and taking the 125GP silverware.
The first of the combined Steel Framed 600/Pre Injection 600 races saw Richard Stubbs (Stone) lead the very early part of the race on his Pre Injection machine, but handing the lead to Dean Ephgrave (Hucknall) on a Steel Framed machine after he failed to complete the second lap.
Then on Lap 3 Anthony Porter (Chesterfield) squeezed by into the lead on his Steel Framed machine and manage to stretch out a 2sec advantage at the flag. Robert Wise (Stone) took the Pre Injection class victory after being in a race long battle with Chris North (York) on another Pre Injection machine.
After a bad start in the first race Andrew Lowe (Stone) made no mistake in the second and led for the first four laps until Richard Stubbs making up for his own slow start, passed him on Lap 5 and then the two were locked together until the flag, Stubbs holding onto a slender 0.25sec advantage. Porter got the better of Ephgrave once more in the Steel framed class, taking the class victory whilst being 3rd and 4th respectively, overall.
The combined Classics and Formula 125 races provided some excellent entertainment for the crowd, Jamie O’Brien (Liverpool) overcoming a slower start than his fellow Classic 1000 competitor, Anthony Redmond (Manchester) on both occasions. The two battled for the lead in each race, O’Brien getting the better both times to take the overall win from him. Neil Ogden (Stoke on Trent) took the Classic 350 victories, with 5th overall; Gordon Thorpe (Matlock) the Classic 500 wins with a 9th and 7th place; and Gavin Mills (Spalding) the Formula 125 honours with an 8th and 9th place.
The Sound of Thunder/Lightweight races also had a very similar result; Lloyd Shelly (Burntwood) and Paul Gibbs (Buxton) taking 1st and 2nd respectively, on both occasions, but locked in an excellent battle throughout the races and finishing less than 1 second apart at the flag.
After taking 3rd place in the first race Matthew Harwood (Snelston) was quickest off the line in the second and was involved in the battle for the lead for a while, only to drop back to 3rd by Lap 4, these three riders all on Sound of Thunder machines. David Carson (Northwich) took the Mini Sound of Thunder honours in the first race, while Stuart Hall (Rugeley) was 2nd, however with Carson’s problems in the second Formula Darley race, on the same machine, he failed to make the grid in the second race and Hall took full advantage with the class victory.
The Lightweight honours were also split between two riders; Chris Moore (High Peak) taking the first class win from Alex Woodhouse (Chesterfield), but then after failing to complete Lap3 in the second race Woodhouse benefitted and took the victory.
Virgil Stevenson (Derby) dominated the Pre98 races taking two start-to-finish races on his ‘up to 1300cc’ machine, finishing approx. 3seconds in front of Richard Stubbs (Stone) on another ‘up to 1300cc’ machine. Chris Moore took his ‘up to 500cc’ machine to an overall 4th place, claiming the class victory in the first race.
Unfortunately, with the problems he encountered in the Lightweight race he never made the grid for the second Pre98’s race, letting Andrew Clarke (Ashton Under Lyme) improve on his 2nd place, in class, in the first race and take the class victory, with 6th Overall.
In addition to the extra international competitors Round 3 saw another two races added to the race programme for the Classic 50cc Racing Club.
These machines gave the spectators the chance to witness the sight and sounds of Grand Prix racing from many years ago, in an era when there were races for 500cc, 350cc, 250cc, 125cc, 80cc and 50cc machines. Samuel Grief (Derby) was the master on the day taking two flag-to-flag victories, with a winning margin of over 30seconds on both occasions. Adrian Sanders (Nottingham) managed to pass Michael Bowden (Worksop) on the third lap to claim 2nd place in the first race, but in the second race Bowden was able to ensure it never happened in the second, leaving Bowden to settle for 3rd.
With all these results included in the Championship tables below you will notice there are now six classes with just a single point separating 1st and 2nd place and with Rounds 4 and 5 taking place over the weekend of 27th – 28th June, machine preparation and scoring points in both rounds will prove vital.