Two years have passed since the last Stars at Darley meeting but so obvious it had not been forgotten as the Darley Moor Motor Cycle Road Race Club were delighted to welcome the biggest crowd for years at their season finale. We have all experienced some very strange, unfortunately not just fictional, times in those two years, but luckily the Club have invested in their website moving with the technology available and to avoid queuing for tickets at the gate there were online ticket purchases still being made at 1pm on Sunday!
On Sunday, the new improved spectator banking at the Hairpin saw its first vehicle take up residency for the day around 7.30am and eventually had to be closed to any further ‘traffic’ on safety grounds, because it was so full.
This ‘headline’ event in the Darley Moor calendar took on a different format for 2021, still a two-day meeting, but rather than practice on the Saturday and racing on Sunday both days had racing.
Saturday began with Practice, for all championship classes and the Stars competitors and finishing with Timed Practice for the Stars event. Race action then saw Round 7 of the Darley Moor Championship classes with the first Stars at Darley race, all 15lappers. Sunday began with Practice for all classes and the final round, Round 8 of the championships and the second Stars race.
Richard Cooper (Hucknall) topped Saturday’s Stars Timed Practice session, with Leon Jeacock (Leicester) 0.56sec slower, in 2nd on their 1000cc machines. Zak Corderoy (Mansfield) and Kyle Ryde (Jacksdale) were the highest placed 600cc machines in 5th and 6th respectively with Mark Goodings (Doncaster) the highest placed Club competitor in 7th.
Cooper showed his determination in Saturday’s Stars race, that extra half a second of speed making the difference to the pack, leading from the opening lap he was then able to stretch his advantage on every lap, eventually taking the win by almost 10seconds. After initially having a battle with Ryde, Jeacock then got the better of John McGuinness (Morecombe) on Lap4, moving into 2nd spot he was then able to stretch out a 3sec advantage over him. Ryde was able to keep his 600cc machine in 4th place, a further 3sec back on McGuinness, whilst Goodings was the first regular Darley runner coming home 6th place.
Sunday’s race looked like it was going to be a similar affair during the opening laps, Cooper enjoying a 1.5sec lead after Lap3, but then disaster struck and he failed to finish Lap4, the bike suffering a mechanical problem, Jeacock then taking over the lead, with McGuinness 2nd and Club regular, Josh Daley (Wigan), only raced on Sunday and had a fantastic race, in 3rd place. Leacock was able to enjoy a 4.5sec lead at the flag, but McGuinness succumbed to the pressure from Daley who moved into 2nd spot on Lap5 and opened a similar advantage over ‘McPint’ at the flag. Once again Ryde was the top 600cc finisher in 5th place and Goodings repeated his 6th place finish. Disaster for Cooper was luck for Jeacock who took the Stars at Darley title for the first time. McGuinness, who has raced at every ‘Stars’ meeting since 1998, finished Runner-Up in the aggregate standings and Kyle Ryde’s effort on his 600cc machine saw him finish 3rd, the highest place finish ever for 600cc machine. Mark Goodings received the John Newbold Trophy for finishing 5th Overall, the highest placed Club regular.
Obviously, there was more to the meeting than just the ‘Stars at Darley’ races, there were also the matter of Club Champions to be decided and Goodings was also on the hunt for silverware in the combined Open Solo/Pre-Injection Open races, being 18points behind Daley in the Club’s Open Solo Championship and hoping to capitalise on Daley’s Sunday only entry, whilst Carl Morris (Etwall) had just a 4point advantage over Adam Walters (Derby) in the Pre-Injection Open Championship. Satur-day’s race saw Ash Stone (Matlock) (3rd in Open Solo Championship, 4points behind Goodings) make the faster start and lead until Lap7, with Matthew Bell (Sheffield) 2nd and Sam Johnson (Minskip) 3rd, whilst Goodings was in 4th place. Lap8 saw Stone drop to 3rd, Bell takes the lead and Goodings move into 2nd and Johnson drop to 4th. Goodings then hit the front on the following lap and was able to pull out a small lead of 3sec at the chequered flag, leaving Stone to reclaim 2nd place on Lap13 and pull clear of the battle between Bell and Johnson. Behind this Open Solo battle Morris was battling it out several places ahead of Walters, getting his Pre-Injection machine amongst the Open Solos and eventually finishing 6th Overall, whilst Walters, 2nd in Class, but 11th Overall. Going into the Final Round on Sunday the Daley’s advantage at the top of the Open Solo class was down to just 3points, the points difference between a win and 2nd place, whilst Morris had the ‘luxury’ of a 7point lead in the Pre-Injection class. Daley’s return for the Final Round was to be too much for Goodings, recording a perfect start – finish victory with Goodings the only rider to get anywhere near him, finishing 8sec behind at the flag with Stone, the 3rd place finisher, a further 25seconds back! Walters certainly did not make it easy for Morris in the Pre-Injection Championship, trying to force Morris to make a
mistake he followed him throughout the race, the pair only separated by another rider, across the line on one occasion throughout the 15lap race. Morris taking the class victory, and with it the championship title, by just over 4sec.
As the Open Solo and Pre-Injection class show at Club level there tends to be many local riders to the circuit that are successful, but a mention must be made of Albert Walker, from Torquay, a ‘mere’ 200+ miles and 5hour drive, each way, for a race weekend and he has been at Darley Moor for each Round of the 2021 season! His efforts were certainly worth it because going into the meeting he only needed a handful points to secure the Formula 600 title, one of the harder classes to dominate. However, he had no intention of just getting enough points: on Saturday he had to settle for 2nd place behind Richard Wardle (Stoke on Trent), but on Sunday, and possibly feeling as fresh as a daisy, he turned the tables on Wardle and recorded a start-finish victory and becoming 2021 Formula 600 Champion with a 29point advantage over David Carson (Northwich), who secured a 4th and 3rd place this weekend. After scoring points at just half of the Rounds Wardle finished 3rd in the standings.
Onto another Formula 600 class, but this time the Sidecar version and once again the Champions elect only required a small handful of points to secure the title, but that was not going to be the way for the Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (Sutton Coldfield/Washingborough), who have been racing at Darley Moor for 34years. Chasing their third title over the past few years they finished Saturday’s race 2nd, behind their closest title challengers, Roger and Bradley Stockton (Winsford) who had an advantage of almost 15sec over them when the race was red flagged on Lap11. Sunday’s race was able to go the full 15lap distance and once again the Stockton’s took the win, after passing Baker/Killingsworth for the lead, on Lap5 and then stretching a 10sec advantage at the flag.
Running alongside the Formula 600 sidecars, the Open Class outfits with 1000cc engines, had a totally different set of Championship standings with the top two separated by just 2points heading into Saturday’s penultimate round, Keith Waddington/Mick Storey (Barnsley/Spalding Moor) holding the advantage over Anthony Eades/Ash Gibson (Hyde/Stockport). Saturday’s shortened race saw Eades/Gibson finish 13sec ahead of their closet rivals, claiming 6th place Overall. Sunday’s was much closer with the pairings in a race long battle, finally separated by just 3sec at the flag with Eades/Gibson doing enough to secure the title.
The Lightweight Championship was another with 2points separating the top two competitors: Andy Whale (Birmingham) ‘enjoying’ the lead over Steve Price (Cheadle). Saturday’s penultimate round all but secured the title for Whale after taking a convincing start-finish victory with an 18sec winning margin over Jake Bradley (Ollerton), with Price only managing to secure 5th place, 30+ seconds behind Whale. Sunday was a different race with Peter Fell (Burton on Trent) leading for the opening 3laps until Chris Moore (High Peak), making up for his slow start and being 7th on the opening lap, passed him for the lead on Lap4. Fell then dropped down the pack a little to leave Bradley, Whale and Lewis Jones (Cuckney, Derbys) to battle it out for Runner-Up spot. Whale held 2nd place until Lap9 when he dropped back to 4th, with Bradley,2nd and Jones, 3rd. Moore then failed to finish the penultimate lap, leaving Bradley to inherit the lead and hold the advantage with Jones and Whale battling it out until the chequered flag and finishing in that order, just 0.5sec apart.
Four points was also the gap at the head of the 700cc Twins Championship, David Carson (Northwich) holding the advantage over Jim Hodson (Wigan). Hodson was not going to make it easy for Carson and with the two having completely different starts the pressure was on Carson to secure enough points. After Lap1 was completed Hodson was lying 2nd, just 0.6sec behind Sean Seddon (Northop) with Carson back in 7th place. Hodson hit the front on Lap2 and was able to stretch a lead of 14sec over Seddon, with Carson working his way up to 3rd at the flag, but over 30sec behind Hodson, giving Hodson a 1point advantage going into the Final Round of the Championship. The opening laps were remarkably similar between Hodson and Seddon, but with Carson’s machine suffering a mechanical fault and unable to make the grid, the Championship was Hodson’s, who then went onto take the victory by over 40sec.
David Bradley (Matlock) had a 5point lead over Martin Davis (Manchester) and a further 4points over James Oddy (Chell Heath) in the Classic & Forgotten Era (501cc to 1300cc) class. Saturday saw Bradley lead for the first couple of laps before Steve Boam (Matlock), on the same class of machine, and Chris Moore (High Peak), on a 251cc -500cc machine, passed him on Lap3, the pair then stretching out a lead over him of 25seconds. Boam able to hold Moore at bay and take the victory by just 1.5sec. With Davis’ machine suffering engine failure before the event started and Oddy not entered in this penultimate Round the 3rd place then handed Bradley an unassailable 17point lead in the Class. Mike Lees (Congleton) 251cc – 500cc Class and Graham Oakley (Chesterfield) Up to 250cc class already had advantages of over 15points that a race win gives and after securing overall 4th and 5th places, but victory in their respective classes then gave them both the Championship titles before the Final Round.
The Honda CB500/Suzuki Bandit class got the racing underway on both days over the weekend and 2019 Champion Mark Brailsford (Chesterfield) started Saturday with an 8point lead over 2019 Runner-Up Liam Clements (Newcastle under Lyme), with Tom Fisher (Nottingham) a further 9points behind in the 2021 championship, so a far from settled championship. Saturday’s race saw Matthew Birks (Keele) claim a start-finish victory, initially Brailsford was in 2nd place until Lap4 when both Gary Cutts (Forest Town) and Clements passed him before he dropped another couple of places before failing to finish Lap8. With Cutts and Clements holding their positions Clements added 10points to his championship tally, putting him at the head of the table by just 2points. Sunday’s grid was a little larger than the previous and boosted with several runners not eligible for championship points, but it did not detract from the racing, nor the championship positions. Daz Bellworthy (Derby) recorded an impressive start -finish victory, crossing the finish line almost 40seconds ahead of the field, however, he was not eligible for championship points so did not affect anything. Cutts was the closest to him throughout the race, crossing the line in 2nd place, then David Grace (Derby) had battled from an opening lap 5th place to pass Brailsford on Lap5 for 3rd place, with Birks dropping back from a first lap 3rd place down to 5th, with Clements finishing 6th, two places down on Brailsford, but more Importantly taking just 6points over Brailsford’s 10points, allowing Brailsford to become the 2021 Champion.
Ben Dale (Warrington) was leading the pre-Electronic 600/750 Twin Championship by just 12points from Stuart Bradbury (Kilburn) prior to the Saturday’s penultimate round, however with two deter-mined rides he finished the season with a pair of start – finish victories, ahead of his championship rival who finished Runner-Up on both occasions, but 30sec behind on Saturday and 16seconds adrift on Sunday, Dale taking the championship by 18points.
The races featuring the Junior and Senior classes still had two Champions to decide, Jamie Hanks-Elliott (Birmingham) already having an unassailable lead in the Junior Class A Championship, for 400cc machines. However, Lewis Jones (Cuckney, Derbyshire) was another competitor to record two start – finish victories, taking the overall win from Hanks Elliott on both occasions on his Class A machine. The Junior Class B Championship was being led by Freddie Oakley (Chesterfield) who needed just 3points to secure the Championship. Two consistent rides saw him record 4th overall on both days, the highest placed Class B competitor and sealing the Championship with maximum points over the weekend and dropping just 5points throughout the season. In the Senior Class David Glossop, Wilmslow had a 23point advantage going into the weekend and was able to mirror Oakley’s achievement; two consistent rides finishing 3rd Overall on both occasions, taking maximum points in the Class and lifting the title with more than double the points of his nearest rival.
With the Club’s Honda CB500/Suzuki Bandit Championship getting the racing underway on both days the CB500 machines finished both days off with some excellent entertainment in an intended one-off event, the CB500 Derby Alloys Challenge, but this could well make an appearance again. Any spectator that left before the day racing had finished will be regretting missing the queue to leave the circuit. Twenty-one competitors on the grid, all on CB500’s, Club racers alongside British Superbike/Supersport/Superstock racers. Saturday saw Matthew Birks lead across the line on the opening lap, then Daz Bellworthy led across the line on Lap2, Josh Leaning Lap3 & 4, Bellworthy Lap5 – 8 and Tom Fisher the final 2laps. Not as many different leaders on Sunday race but still plenty of changes; Leaning leading Laps 1-4, Richard Cooper Lap5, Leaning Lap6, Cooper Lap7, Milo Ward Lap8, then Cooper the final two laps. This was just at the head of the field; you can only imagine what was happening behind!
What a way to finish an excellent season the next event is the 2021 Stars at Darley and Club Championships Presentation of Awards and Annual Dinner on 5th February 2022 at Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Stoke-on-Trent for further information please check www.darleymoor.co.uk.
2021 Championship standings (After Round 8)
Junior Championship Class A – 1st Jamie Hanks-Elliott, 84pts; 2nd Lewis Jones, 30pts; 3rd Scarlett Robinson, 24pts
Junior Championship Class B – 1st Freddy Oakley, 85pts; 2nd Katie Hand, 27pts; 3rd Troy Jeffrey, 24pts
Senior Championship – 1st David Glossop, 72pts; 2nd Elaine Moody, 34pts; 3rd Luke Gilby, 15pts
Classic & Forgotten Era up to 250cc – 1st Graham Oakley, 72pts; 2nd Glenn Atkinson, 33pts; 3rd Loris Hunt 24pts
Classic & Forgotten Era 251cc to 500cc – 1st Mike Lees, 65pts; 2nd Nigel Race, 26pts; 3rd Mike Harding, 22pts
Classic & Forgotten Era 501cc – 1300cc – 1st David Bradley, 66pts; 2nd Martin Davis, 34pts; 3rd James Oddy, 30pts
Lightweight Championship – 1st Andy Whale, 67pts; 2nd Steve Price, 52pts; 3rd Jamie Hanks-Elliott 40pts
Honda CB500 & Suzuki Bandit Championship – 1st Mark Brailsford, 57pts; 2nd Liam Clements, 55pts; 3rd Tom Fisher, 52pts
Formula 600 Championship – 1st Albert Walker, 76pts; 2nd David Carson, 47pts; 3rd Richard Wardle, 37pts
Pre-electronic 600cc & 750cc Twin Championship – 1st Ben Dale, 90pts; 2nd Stuart Bradbury, 72pts; 3rd Lee Smith, 42pts
700cc Twin Cylinder Championship – 1st Jim Hodson, 75pts; 2nd Dave Carson, 59pts; 3rd Richard Hunt, 46pts
Open Solo – 1st Josh Daley, 75pts; 2nd Mark Goodings, 69pts; 3rd Ash Stone, 60pts
Pre-Injection to 1300cc – 1st Carl Morris, 85pts; 2nd Adam Walters, 75pts; 3rd Andrew Boulton 44pts
Open Sidecar – 1st Anthony Eades/James Etchels, 67pts; 2nd Keith Waddington/Mick Storey, 64pts; 3rd Steve Thomas/Danny Lewis, 42pts
Formula 600 Sidecar – 1st Howard Baker/Mike Killingsgworth, 81pts; 2nd Roger Stockton/Bradley Stockton, 57pts; 3rd Andrew Bingham/Kelly Bridgland, 32pts
Report By Brian George
Photos by Tony Else Photography