Darley Moor Motor Cycle Road Race Club, end of season finale and sunburn are not usually words to describe the final race meeting of the season, but a definite first for the Richardson Stars at Darley meeting. In addition to the Stars races there was the final two Rounds of the Club’s Championship to run, all temperatures into the 20’s on both days, perfect racing conditions over the weekend, 7th – 8th October 2023.
Round 6, Saturday 7th October
The main race of the day the 12lap Richardson Stars of Darley had to be stopped after three laps when Josh Owens (Aintree) and Daniel Stubbs (Derby) suffered a collision at the hairpin, both riders required medical attention, resulting in a delay for the restart and the afternoon’s races. The 8Lap restart saw MasterMac Honda by Hawk Racing rider, Charlie Nesbitt (Swindon), on his first visit to Darley Moor and showing he had got to grips with the circuit, fly off the grid, lapping almost 2sec per lap quicker than anybody else, take a start – finish win over Ben Luxton (Bredbury) 2nd, with 6x Star of Darley, John McGuinness (Lancaster) 3rd. Highest placed Club rider, with the hopes of lifting the John Newbold Trophy, was Mark Goodings, 5th behind former Darley Moor regular Rob Hodson (Wigan). (Both Josh Owens and Daniel Stubbs required hospitalisation and the Darley Moor Motor Cycle Road Race Club wish them a speedy recovery.)
With regards to the Club Championships, the Wilson Trophy Championship got the race action underway and Championship leader Peter Fell (Burton on Trent) secured a start – finish victory. During the early laps Jordan Poole (Stoke on Trent) was his closest challenger, but behind Matt Zschiesche (Stoke on Trent) and Ted Wilkinson (Runcorn) were making up for slower starts, finishing Lap1 5th and 6th respectively, but the pair dropping Poole down to 4th place on Lap5, whilst Wilkinson found his way through on Zschiesche. The trio finishing just 1sec apart at the chequered flag. Fell’s victory and the points awarded were enough for him to be crowned the very first Wilson Trophy Champion. These four competitors were also out on track together for the combined Lightweight/Honda CB500 race, but this time Fell and Wilkinson were competing in the Lightweight class, of which Fell was already Champion whilst Zschiesche and Poole were battling for CB500 honours. Whilst Fell recorded continued his dominance, recording a start – finish victory, but it was the 2021 Junior Champion, Jamie Hanks-Elliott (Birmingham) that pushed him throughout the 6lap race, finally finishing 1.5sec behind at the flag. Poole was then the first CB500 machine home in 3rd Overall, with Wilkinson 4th on his Lightweight machine, with Zschiesche overall 5th, but 2nd CB500 across the line. With Poole taking the class victory, it prevented Zschiesche from claiming the title, although he did have a 14point cushion.
The Darley Cup competitors followed the Wilson Trophy race onto the grid and with David Carson (Northwich) having recorded four victories from four starts , plus a 19point lead over nearest challenger Adam Green (Washington) a similar result would give him the title. However, Grant Thomson (Port St Mary) had other ideas, leading from the opening lap and recording a start – finish victory, with a 3sec advantage over Carson, with Green a further 7sec behind. Once Championship points were awarded Carson could claim the title with an unassailable 19point lead. These three would also be alongside each other in the Formula 600 race and, once again, it was Thompson who would claim a start – finish victory, this time with a 6.7sec advantage over Jack Worth (Barnsley) with Mark Goodings (Doncaster) 3rd, Green 4th and Carson 5th. This would leave Goodings at the head of the championship table with an 11point advantage over Carson, with Worth a further 2points back. Between the Darley Cup and Formula 600 races Carson was out in the combined 700cc Twins and Pre-Electronic 600 race, aiming to clinch the 700 Twins title. After finishing the opening lap down in 4th place, behind Daniel Bingham (Melton Mowbrey) on another Twins machine, with two Pre-Electronic 600’s ahead of Nick Clare (Winsford) leading and Robin Newbold (Dronfield) 2nd. Bingham hit the front on Lap2, with Clare dropping to 2nd, Carson 3rd and Newbold failing to finish the lap, with Adam Sheriff (Barnsley) slotting into 4th Overall. Bingham and Carson would stay at the head of the field for the remainder of the race, while Sheriff moved up into 3rd Overall, but 1st Pre-Electronic 600, with Clare, 2nd placed 600, until the final lap which he failed to finish. Carson’s 2nd place was enough to give him the 700 Twins title and Clare’s failure to finish was enough for Sheriff to take the 600cc Pre-Electronic Championship.
Sheriff still had a chance of a title in the Classic & Forgotten Era 1300 class, in which he was tied on points at the head of the table with Mark Brailsford (Chesterfield). As the flag dropped both Brailsford and Sheriff ensured the spectators were kept entertained, after Lap1 Brailsford enjoyed a 1.8sec lead over Sheriff. However, with the help of the fastest lap of the race on Lap3, Sheriff was closing the gap on Brailsford throughout the race, finally finishing just 0.2sec behind at the chequered flag, but now with a 3point disadvantage, to Brailsford, at the top of the table. Sunday’s races will be a cracker! Running alongside the 1300cc machines the 500cc class was another still to be decided and coming into Saturday's races Steve Price (Stockport) enjoyed a 24point lead over Paul Hawksworth (Castle Donington), with 30points available over the weekend. The opening lap saw Price, Rob Mawbey (Derby) and Hawksworth cross the line in Overall 5th, 6th and 7th respectively, but then Mawbey passed Price on Lap2 and held the advantage to the flag. However, Hawksworth could not make a similar move on Price throughout the race to keep his title hopes alive. With Price finishing 2nd, Hawksworth 3rd in class, it left a 28point gap at the head of the table, giving Price the Classic & Forgotten Era 251cc – 500cc title. The Classic & Forgotten Era 250cc class had already decided its Champion, Iain Davis (Ashbourne) at the previous Round.
As an additional unofficial warm-up for the forthcoming Richardson Stars race a number of Club competitors were out in the Ben Godfrey Trophy, plus the combined Open Solo/Pre-Injection Open races. The Ben Godfrey Trophy race certainly provided one of the most frantic races of the day with four competitors battling at the head of the field. Whilst it was Matthew Bell (Sheffield) that was first across the line each time, his challengers to the title were swapping places throughout the race. Mark Goodings (Doncaster) was just a single point behind Daniel Stubbs in the standings and intent on keeping his title chance alive, leading his nearest challenger for the opening two laps, but 0.3sec behind championship leader Bell. Laps 3 and 4 saw Stubbs take the advantage over Goodings, the gap to Bell still under 0.5sec. Goodings then recorded the Fastest Lap of the race on Lap5 to reclaim 2nd place and reduce the gap to Bell down to 0.2sec. The final lap saw another quick one from Goodings, but trying to find a way pass Bell was another matter, eventually crossing the line just 0.12sec away from victory, with Stubbs 3rd and Alan Hughes (Rugeley) circulating in a close 4th place throughout waiting to benefit from anybody’s mistake, which failed to materialise, the four crossing the line separated by just 1.15sec! Goodings efforts were only enough to put him into 2nd place in the standings, but unable to significantly close the gap to Bell, who would have the honour of being the first name on the Ben Godfrey Trophy, in memory of the 2017 Star of Darley. The same quartet would also have a similar battle at the head of the field in the Open Solo/Pre-Injection Open race, all on Open Solo machines. This time Goodings had a 17point deficit to Bell, the championship leader again, but after trailing Sam Johnson (Minskip) for the opening two laps he made the pass stick on Lap3 and pulled out a 3sec lead at the chequered flag, leaving Stubbs to settle for 2nd, whilst Bell had to contend with a challenge from Hughes, who crossed the line in 4th, just 0.15sec behind the Championship leader. Johnson, however dropped back to 6th place, behind Adam Walters (Derby). Ian McKenzie (Nottingham) recorded his first Pre-Injection Open win with an Overall 8th place, but Stuart Bradbury’s Runner-Up in class was enough to put the Championship out of Rich Chivers-Jarvis reach, recording a 4th place, leaving him 29points adrift of Bradbury, with McKenzie 16points behind in 3rd spot.
With the large number of entries for the Sidecar classes the Club had to split the Formula 2 600cc machines and Open 1000cc Sidecar machines, the Open Class taking to the grid first. Whilst the guest entrant of George Holden and Ashley Hawes (Clitheroe/Wigan) recorded a start – finish victory in the first race, Club Championship leaders Steve Thomas/Danny Lewis trailed them throughout, finishing 15sec adrift at the flag. The second race, the points race, played out in a very similar fashion with any title challengers to Thomas/Lewis unable to prevent them stretching out their advantage at the top from 4points to 11points.
In an effort to get their Formula 600 Sidecar title challenge back on track Dan Knight/Ben Hughes (Congleton/Northwold), who are 2nd in the championship, 17points adrift of leaders Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (Sutton Coldfield/Lincoln), recorded a start – finish victory, ahead of Conrad Harrison/Ashley Moore (Bradford/Welwyn Garden City) with the title leaders in 3rd place. A very similar race was recorded for the final race of the day, allowing Knight/Hughes to reduce the deficit in the championship to 14points.
Sunday 8th October
With a number of Championships being decided in Saturday’s racing there was still another seven Championship classes to be decided, plus the 2023 Richardson Star of Darley to be crowned. With Nesbitt’s dominance the previous day , similar glorious weather conditions it was no surprise to see another flag to flag victory from Nesbitt, again with Luxton, McGuinness, Hodson and Goodings following him home. Charlie Nesbitt, very much the Star of Darley at his first attempt and Mark Goodings proudly taking the John Newbold Trophy for highest placed Club rider.
The first of the Club Championship titles to be finalised was the Classic & Forgotten Era 1300cc with Mark Brailsford and Adam Sheriff separated by just 3points. The morning’s race certainly didn’t go to plan for either when locked in a battle at the head of the field on Lap5, both failed to finish the lap, the incident causing the red flags to come out and declaring the race after four laps, handing the win to William Curtis (Chesterfield). This would just add to the excitement of their afternoon race where, by Lap3 Brailsford and Sheriff were never anymore than 0.5sec apart, eventually Brailsford taking the win, and the Championship by 0.2sec, handing him a 6point winning margin in the Championship.
Matthew Bell was leading the Open Solo class, Goodings still in with a chance of the title and during the early race he certainly showed he had not given up on the title recording a start – finish victory over Bell who was 4.5sec behind at the chequered flag. Goodings did all he could in the afternoon’s race taking another start – finish victory, this time over Sam Johnson, but Bell’s 3rd place and just 5points less than Goodings 15points for the win was enough to claim the title by just 7points.
Next up to the grid was the Open Sidecar race and a very similar outcome to Saturday’s encounter with George Holden/Ashley Hawes claiming two more start – finish victories, but the Championship was all about Steve Thomas/Danny Lewis who were 11points clear of their nearest challengers Keith Waddington/Mick Storey (Barnsley/Holmes upon Spalding Moor). Whilst Waddington/Storey never made the grid for the first race, Thomas/Lewis again were the closest to the Holden/Hawes outfit. However, the second race saw the title challengers make the grid, but unable to put any pressure on the title favourites, only the 3rd place Championship crew could push them, Anthony Eades/Ash Gibson (Hyde/Stockport) finishing 3sec behind in the first race and 7sec back in the afternoon’s race. However, an incident occurred in the second race that would prevent the remaining three solo races from taking place after an unbeknown blown engine spread oil all around the circuit, leaving a huge clean-up operation for the Marshalls and no time to finish the race programme. So, as happened on Saturday the points on offer for the second race were given on the results of the first race for the three classes that were still to be decided: the Formula 600, Formula 2 Sidecar and Honda CB500/Suzuki Bandit Championships.
The Formula 600 race saw another flag-to-flag race victory from Grant Thomson with Joe Walton (Preston) the closest to him, finishing almost 7sec adrift at the flag. However, the Championship was between Mark Goodings, David Carson, and Jack Worth, 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively and separated by just 13points. Unfortunately, for Worth he failed to complete Lap1, but Goodings finished the opening lap in 5th, with Carson 7th. Lap4 saw the pair each move up a place, then Lap5 saw Carson move onto the back of Goodings, then pass him on the final lap into 3rd place, with Goodings 4th. With points being awarded for this race it gave Goodings the Formula 600 title after just missing out on the Open Solo and Ben Godfrey titles.
The Formula 600 Sidecar race saw Dan Knight/Ben Hughes do all they could to take the title from leaders Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth, a start – finish victory, with a 15sec margin, fastest lap of the race, but with Baker/Killingsworth’s 3rd place being enough to claim the Championship with a 9point advantage.
The final race of the day should have been the combined Lightweight/Honda CB500 Championship with the CB500 class still to be decided between Matt Zschiesche and Jordan Poole, with Zschiesche just requiring a single point to take the title out of Poole’s reach. The earlier race was won by Chris Moore (New Mills), multiple Lightweight champion and making a rare 2023 visit to Darley Moor. Behind him was a five-rider battle between which started, after the opening lap Jamie Hanks-Elliott, 2nd; Ted Wilkinson, 3rd; Peter Fell, 4th; Matt Zschiesche, 5th; Daniel Bingham, 6th, with Jordan Poole in 9th. Lap3 saw Zschiesche drop to 6th with Poole just 0.5sec back in 7th. Fell then dropped out of the running after failing to finish Lap5, giving both championship contenders another position. At the chequered flag five riders crossed the line just 0.7sec apart, with Wilkinson 2nd, Bingham, 3rd, Zschiesche, 4th on the first CB500, Jack Knights (Liverpool) 5th and Jamie Hanks-Elliott, 6th with Poole a further 1.3sec adrift, 7th, giving Zschiesche the CB500 Championship.
Not the usual smooth running race programme over the weekend, but the Marshals and Medical Teams worked incredibly hard all weekend to ensure as much racing could take place as possible in the extremely unseasonal conditions. The huge crowd were certainly kept entertained with some excellent racing.
The next thing for the Club, after the clean-up of the track is to look forward to the Annual Presentation of Awards and Dinner on 27th January 2024.
Championship Standings (after Round 7) Open Solos
1st Matthew Bell, 89pts; 2nd Mark Goodings, 82pts; 3rd Daniel Stubbs, 57pts Open Sidecars
1st Steve Thomas/Danny Lewis, 90pts; 2nd Keith Waddington/Mick Storey, 70pts; 3rd Anthony Eades/Ash Gibson, 56pts Lightweight Solos 1st Peter Fell, 87pts;
1st Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth, 84pts; 2nd Dan Knight/Ben Hughes, 75pts; 2nd Richard Butler/Kenny Cole, 42pts
Daniel Stubbs, 53pts
Report By Brian George Photography/PR
Photos by Tony Else Photography