The curtain fell on the Darley Moor Motor Cycle Club’s 2017 season last weekend, 7th – 8th October, the seven round championship crowning the final eight champions and finding the new ‘Star’ of Darley Moor, at the Motor Sport Centre, near Ashbourne.
Despite the weather’s best intentions leading up to the event and reducing the normal favoured parking areas, there was still a very good turnout for the season finale. Race day provided its own frustrations after a solo machine managed to ‘lay’ oil around over half of a lap, but with the excellent work from the marshals it was incredible that little more than an hour of racing had been lost, but it did mean that all of the Championship races were reduced from 15 laps down to the same 10 lap distance as the two ‘Stars at Darley’ races.
Ben Godfrey (Nottingham) had previously missed out on three titles in his earlier racing career with the Club, now he has finally netted THE one. After being Runner-Up in the Formula 125 Championship in 2009 and 2010, then repeating the position in the 2011 Lightweight Championship before embarking on his national level racing career, he returned last weekend for the headline Stars at Darley races. There may have been a number of regular Stars riders out through injury, or because of potential British Superbike finishing positions, but Godfrey was up against one of the biggest favourites for a while, Richard Cooper (Hucknall), already a previous multiple Stars Champion. The lap charts show that Godfrey led the first race from start to finish, but this was certainly not the case, another Nottingham rider was quickest off the line, Tom Fisher, but then Cooper had squeezed passed, on the first lap, to lead for just a matter of seconds. As they approached the final corner, of that initial lap, Cooper was expecting too much of his tyres on the opening lap and slid off, allowing Godfrey to lead across the line, with Fisher in his slipstream. As Godfrey attempted to stretch out an advantage Fisher was coming under pressure from Leon Jaycock (Kirkby Mallory). By Lap 4 Godfrey had managed to find a 1.0sec cushion, but Jaycock was less than 0.2sec from Fisher’s back wheel. Lap7 saw Jaycock make the move past Fisher, and hold it, but he then had over 2.5sec to catch Godfrey. After Godfrey recorded the Fastest Lap of the race on Lap 9, Jaycock could only reduce the advantage to just under 2sec at the flag, with Fisher a further 3sec back. Ben Scranage (Bolton) was the first of the regular Darley Moor riders home with an excellent 4th and Lloyd Shelley (Burntwood) the first non 1000cc machine home on his Triumph 675, in 6th place.
The second Stars race saw Fisher quickest off the line again and hold it for the first lap, with Cooper in his slipstream, but that was it, disaster struck for Fisher as he fell at the chicane after the start-line, leaving Gregory and Scranage to take up the challenge to Cooper. Lap3 saw Scranage make a move pass Gregory, but this lasted just the one lap and Jaycock was then also closing in on the pair. Lap6 saw Jaycock move pass Scranage, but the battle between the trio had allowed Cooper to stretch his to lead over 6sec, after steadying the pace on the final lap his advantage at the flag was reduced to just 0.41sec from Godfrey, with Jaycock 3rd, Scranage again the first regular Darley Moor rider home in 4th and Shelley, 5th. The combined results gave Ben Gregory the Star of Darley title, with Leon Jaycock, 2nd; Ben Scranage, 3rd and Lloyd Shelley, 4th.
Prior to the Stars races Scranage had ensured his name was on some of the Darley Moor silverware, taking the opening race of the day, the Peak Cup, with a start to finish victory and then in the Open Solo race, after lying 2nd, for the majority of the race whilst closing the gap on the leader, making his move into the lead on Lap7 and stretching out a winning margin of 1.2sec at the flag and allowing Scranage the 2017 Peak Cup and Open Solo titles.
Ross Richards (Chesterfield) recorded a start to finish victory in the combined Formula Darley and Lightweight races, on his Formula Darley machine, from David Carson (Northwich) who had already secured the Championship at the previous round. Phil Leatherland (Grantham) took the Lightweight class victory, from Graham Wilson (Stoke on Trent), but could only reduce the points difference between himself, 3rd and Wilson, 2nd, the Championship being decided at the previous Round.
Richards and Carson were also battling it out for honours in the Sound of Thunder race and whilst Richards was involved in a battle, on his Mini Sound of Thunder machine with some of the larger bikes, Carson was making up for a slower start in which he was 9th overall, with Richards 4th, after the end of Lap1. The pair eventually finished 3rd and 5th overall, but the highest placed Mini Sound of Thunder machines, Richards taking the class victory and Carson’s 2nd place in class, enough for him to take the Mini Sound of Thunder Championship. With Lloyd Shelley already confirmed Champion again and concentrating on the Stars races it was Rich Baker (Crewe) who led the first 3 laps until James Alderson (Durham) passed him on Lap4 and stretched out a lead of almost 10sec at the flag. Baker’s 2nd place and the double points available were enough to elevate him to 2nd place in the final standings.
In the combined Steel Framed 600/Pre Injection 600 race it was the newly crowned Pre Injection 600 Champion, Andrew Lowe (Stone), that took the start to finish victory, but he also claimed a special trophy for being the overall winner of this particular race, the Jake Hingley Trophy in memory of a racer who began his career at Darley Moor in 2012, in the Steel Framed class; unfortunately his career was cut short at Cadwell Park in 2014. Jake’s father Neil was on hand to personally present the trophy. Whilst the Pre Injection Championship had been decided the Steel Framed 600 Championship honours was still to be decided, prior to the race starting Dean Ephgrave (Hucknall) held just a 3 point advantage over Steve Price (Cheadle), with Anthony Porter (Chesterfield) a further 7 points adrift. The end of the first lap saw Porter 3rd, Ephgrave 4th and Price 17th overall and whilst Porter was able to maintain his position throughout the race Ephgrave and Price dropped to 9th and 21st Overall, respectively and allowing Porter to leapfrog the pair in the standings and take the 2017 Steel Framed Championship.
The CB500 race was another to have a twist in the Championship tail at this final round, Paul Sawyer (Nuneaton) had an 8 point advantage over Andy Whale (Birmingham) with Shay Commins (Nuneaton) a further 36 points back in 3rd. Sawyer managed to get the faster start and led for the first 3 laps, with Whale in pursuit for two of those laps until Darren Bellworthy (Derby) fought his way through to 2nd on Lap3 and into the lead on Lap4. As this happened Sawyer went to 4th on Lap 4, 12th on Lap5 and then failed to finish Lap6, whilst Whale went to 3rd on Lap3 then after Sawyer’s drop through the field was able to hold onto 2nd place and the double points on offer taking him to the head of the Championship when it matters most.
The Sidecar race had its own star guests racing with recently crowned World Champions Ben and Tom Birchall (Mansfield) bringing their TT winning 600 machine to Darley Moor along with another TT winning pairing Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle (Idle). Unfortunately this race was shortened even further when the race had to be red flagged because of accident, but it was the Birchalls’ that brought their machine home first with the Harrison/Winkle partnership in 2nd place, Dan Knight/Matthew Rostron (Macclesfield/Formby) confirming their spot at the head of the Formula 600 table, 3rd.
On what was a cold day with a number of stoppages on track the Darley Moor Motor Cycle Road Race Club wish to thank all the spectators that attended, the majority of which stayed to the end and those that have supported the Club throughout the year. A huge thank you obviously goes out to the dedicated marshals and officials who have endured a wide variety of weather conditions this year and who without there would be no racing. And last, but definitely not least, thank you to the competitors that come back each week, putting on the show for the spectators.
The Club’s next event will be the Annual Awards Dinner on 3rd February 2018 at Stoke on Trent. 2017 Final Championship standings Peak Cup 1st Ben Scranage, 92pts
; 2nd Andy Taylor, 47pts; 3rd Steven Procter, 46pts; Open Solo 1st Ben Scranage, 96pts
; 2nd Andy Taylor, 66pts; 3rd Carl Morris, 40pts; Open Sidecars 1st Anthony Eades/Keith Box, 105pts
; 2nd Brian Wilson/Mike Fairhurst, 40pts; 3rd Roy Tansley/Chris Judge, 39pts; Lightweight 1st Chris Moore, 102pts;
2nd Graham Wilson, 87pts; 3rd Phillip Leatherland, 63pts Formula 600 1st Lloyd Shelley, 126pts;
2nd Steven Procter, 66pts; 3rd Matthew Zschiesche, 41pts Formula Darley 1st David Carson, 119pts;
2nd Jason Wilkes, 48pts; 3rd Joe Walton, 43pts; Formula 125 1st James Bull, 79pts
; 2nd Jeremy Knight, 54pts; 3rd McCauley Longmore, 36pts; Formula 600 Sidecars 1st Dan Knight/Matthew Rostron, 122pts
; 2nd Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth, 85pts; 3rd Alan Crowe/Martyn Summerfield, 27pts Framed 600 1st Anthony Porter, 78pts
; 2nd Dean Ephgrave, 68pts; 3rd Steve Price, 49pts Pre Injection 600 1st Andy Lowe, 126pts
; 2nd Dan Milner, 64pts; 3rd Matthew Smith, 59pts Mini Sound of Thunder 1st David Carson, 93pts
; 2nd Joe Walton, 75pts; 3rd Ross Richards, 54pts Sound of Thunder 1st Lloyd Shelley, 90pts
; 2nd Rich Baker, 56pts; 3rd Jamie Horner, 48pts CB500 1st Andy Whale, 105pts
; 2nd Paul Sawyer, 77pts; 3rd Mark Emuss, 52pts Pre Injection (Up to 1300cc) 1st Jamie Pearson, 99pts
; 2nd Mark Brailsford, 63pts; 3rd Andrew Lowe, 55pts Classic 250 1st Geoff Hadwin, 102pts
; 2nd Andy Wilson, 37pts; 3rd Steve Clark, 36pts Classic 350 1st Simon Collins, 90pts
; 2nd Mark Cockerton, 55pts; 3rd Brian Prescott, 38pts; Classic 500 1st Dave McCoy, 85pts
; 2nd Oliver Presswood, 74pts; 3rd Frank Melling, 41pts Classic 1000 1st David Bradley, 87pts
; 2nd Neil Hingley, 36pts; 3rd Anthony Redmond, 36pts