All the images from the latest meeting at Darley Moor are now in place and I have to offer a massive apology that it has taken me so long. Monday and Tuesday are normally my ‘working’ days after a race weekend but it wasn’t possible this week and my injured hand has reacted quite badly and very painfully to a full day trackside with a 5lb lens meaning things have been going at a snails pace as I attempt to do everything right handed, I hope you enjoy Part 1 of the M7’s on track adventures and Part 2 – Sidecars & Wildcards will follow shortly.
The Magnificent 7 were once again out in force and I finally had a chance to meet runaway CB500 series leader Mark Brailsford in the morning as well as enjoying all too brief chats with Mark Meakin and SPR Racing duo Dave Hammond and Ste Pawley.
It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds trying to find riders in the paddocks especially when I’m on my own and everyone is busy with bike prep, and in Sunday’s case, which tyres to go out on with the weather keeping everyone guessing in the morning. Please forgive me if I didn’t say hello, I literally couldn’t see you!
Allow me, if you will, to transport you back to this time last week as I run through the Magnificent Sevens race results from another fantastic day of racing over in Derbyshire. You can also follow the links on the Friends page for more detailed reports from the collective horses mouth and please give their FB pages a like while you’re there.
Unbelievably Mark has yet to drop a single point from the 6 races that have been run so far in the CB500 class and another pair of totally dominant wins on Sunday saw him stretch his championship lead still further as he attempts to secure himself the title that has so far just managed to allude him at the tricky Ashbourne circuit.
In race 2, when the sun had finally come out to play and the track had dried completely after the morning downpours Mark lapped in a best time of 1.07.11. which was only a faction of a second down on the Lightweight machine of Tony Griffiths who placed 5th in that race and in fact Chesterfield man Mark had beaten in the slightly sketchy conditions of race 1, he is now consistently mixing with the top order Lightweight machines and that is no small thing considering that they are designed explicitly as race bikes and not converted road models as the Honda/’Hetty’ is and in doing so is leaving the other CB500’s far behind whilst no doubt benefitting from having fast bikes around him during the races
Mark has also kindly written me a wonderful letter of reference to support my future endeavours and it was fantastic to finally meet him and thank him in person before he got down to the days business of adding to the trophy collection.
Say it very, VERY quietly, and probably not when Mark is in earshot, but could there be a perfect season on the cards at Darley Moor?
With 4 rounds still to go, which I think means another 7 races, it is a HUGE task and also virtually unheard of in any type of racing, from the smallest club meeting through to MotoGP, but on current form I believe it isn’t out of the question and what an achievement it would be.
Chris was back on track after bending both himself and his beautiful Suzuki in a horrendous crash at round 1 and once again showed strongly in very competitive classes, an 11th place finish in the Allcomers Race 2 was followed up with a brace of 16th place finishes in the Open Solo’s and then the day got great!
The final race of the day is the Darley Moor Newcomers Handicap, the event is open to all newcomers (orange bibs) and all bikes with the smaller bike setting off first and the bikes getting bigger and bigger as they set off at time intervals and attempt to chase them down, in this case Tyler Howe on his Aprilia 125 was the hare followed after 20 seconds by the two 300cc and one KTM RC390 machines and so on through the classes until the 1000cc bikes leave the start line after a delay of 60 seconds and the chase is on. The idea is that in theory, with no mistakes and rider talent being identical, the bikes should take the chequered flag at the same. Chris was away with fellow M7 man Mark Meakin and the pace was hot from the word go in near perfect conditions and at the end of 8 furious laps Chris took the win with Mark just missing out on the podium in 4th place. A great end to the day for the Chesterfield flyer and he jets off on holiday as a Darley Moor race winner.
Congratulation Chris, well deserved.
Also back from a heavy crash at round 2 Mark was sounding remarkably upbeat in the paddock when I bumped into him and delivered a new batch of stickers, the same could not be said however about the big GSXR K8, now being used as a fulltime ‘wet’ bike after the acquisition Neil McLarens ex BSB Suzuki, Mark went out for practice on the K8 and less then a lap into the qualifying session the game was up as the crank called it a day to leave the Nottingham man coasting back to the pits and facing the prospect of spending the day on the new bike which he had only ridden four times and crashed twice. It also left Mark starting at the back of the grid for both of the Open Solo races.
Hello Insult, meet Injury!
Despite the uphill tasks ahead of him Mark, being Mark simply got on with the job in hand and in very mixed conditions throughout the day put some much needed miles on the new missile as the pair get accustomed to each other. A solid 14th place finish in the Allcomers 2 race was a nice start to the day and a lap time of 1.04.13 was impressive given the circumstances. Sensing that lady luck was perhaps finally looking down on him Mark lined up at the back of the field for his 2 Open Solo races. In a packed grid close to 30 in number a pair of battling performances saw him take the flag in 19th and 18th respectively but more importantly the lap times had fallen again and Mark now had a 1.03.94 as his best of the day as attention turned to the Handicap race and at the flag Mark just missed the podium and had clocked a 1.03.74. Times coming down, no issues with the new bike, no new injury worries and plenty of miles on the bike. Things are on the up!
Stockport’s finest was once again right at the sharp end of proceedings and had 4 races ahead of him in the Peak Cup and Formula 600 Championships both of which provided some of the closest racing of the day.
Dave started the day in the worst possible style, after qualifying 6th he then missed the warm-up lap due to a last minute change of tyres and was forced to start from 24th on the grid, what followed was a masterclass in wet weather racing until, whilst lying 10th, Dave just slightly out-braked himself at Paddock and ended up running off the circuit before collecting it back together and taking the flag in 14th his lap time of 1.05.00 was top 6 pace which must have been of some comfort and was considerably quicker than some of the bigger 1000cc bikes in the field.
Race 2 of the Peak Cup saw Dave line up in 15th place on the grid and he put on yet another superb show climbing through the field to claim 7th place after the 8 laps, in a field that has some 13 riders on 1000cc machines taking 7th is some performance and the time of 1.00.22 was tantalisingly close to magic 59’s and leaves Dave lying 11th in the championship standings.
In the Formula 600 class, other than a handful of Triumph 675’s which are within the class entry rules and essentially have no power or any other significant advantages, this is a level playing field and it contains some serious talent. Qualifying in 4th spot it was down to business and with the track now dry the lap times tumbled as the riders went to work. At the end of 6 eventful laps Dave had made it on to the podium in 3rd place and a nice points haul banked in the fight for the championship.
Race 2 was again fully dry and with most riders now having completed a number of events during the day the pace was, to say the least, hot and with 2 extra laps for the afternoons races this was all set to be one of the races of the day.
By the end of the 8 frenetic laps of high quality racing Dave brought it home in 4th place, just missing out on the podium but with a lap time of 59.78 and an average speed of over 90MPH he had smashed the magic minute barrier and confidence will be very high ahead of July’s meeting. An 18 point haul from the 2 races also moved him up in the championship standings climbing from 7th up to joint 3rd and end a successful day in Derbyshire.
Green Ant Racing’s Ash also had 4 races at the meeting and it was nice to finally catch him on camera!
Lining up in the Pre-Injection 600, 750 Twin & Mini Sound of Thunder class and also facing the daunting task of tackling the bigger bikes in the Open Solo, Pre-Injection & Sound of Thunder category where he was 1 of only 2 600 machines in the field the day promised to be a serious but exciting challenge.
First up for Ash was a 6 lapper in the Pre-Injection, Twins & MSoT and conditions out on track were far from ideal but at least they were the same for all 17 starters and the skies didn’t seem to have any more rain for the day meaning the track was at least beginning to dry. After a clean start this short ‘sprint’ race seemed to settle down very quickly and Ash had a rather lonely outing finishing in 6th place overall but a strong 4th in class, a best lap of 1.11.91 and 8 points opened the account towards his belated championship campaign.
Race 2 was a similar affair although with the weather now much improved lap times dropped and the racing was a little closer throughout the field and Ash crossed the line in 8th place overall which then converted to a 6th in class and 5 more championship points.
Bad luck with the schedule for the day meant that Ash had to do back-to-back races 6 & 7 followed by 15 & 16 which didn’t leave much time in between to do anything meaningful set up wise to the bike and within minutes of finishing his first race he was straight back on track and lining up to take on the 27 strong field in race 7 all but one with larger engines.
As you would expect, in a straight line the little 600 was no match for the 1000cc machines but faster corner speed would compensate a little and hopefully a tow in a slipstream or two would bring on good lap times and that was exactly how things played out with Ash latching on to the back of the bigger bikes whenever the chance arose. With lovely symmetry two 20th overall finishes when broken down into the different classes became two 4th places meaning 16 championship points and a job well done.