RICHARD Cooper matched the Stars record tally with his sixth victory as he splashed to a dominant double at Darley Moor this weekend.
The Buildbase Suzuki rider put on a masterclass at the Derbyshire circuit to match Michael Rutter’s count of six Stars at Darley wins to defend the title he reclaimed last season.
In the opening of two 10-lap feature races, Cooper stamped his authority with a lights-to-flag win while TT legend and fellow Buildbase-mounted John McGuinness, in his 21st consecutive Stars at Darley appearance, was able to fight off a determined challenge from Milo Ward throughout the entire race as the pair were separated by little more than 0.3sec at any time.
The battle for top honours amongst the regular Darley Moor runners went to Jim Hodson, finishing fourth in the opening race and holding off a late charge from another Wigan based competitor, Josh Daley, who was able to reduce the gap to fourth place by 0.7sec on the final lap.
In the second race, McGuinness was quickest off the line to lead the opening lap, but by the end of lap two he had been relegated to third place as Cooper hit the front with Ward in chase. Cooper was able to stretch his advantage over Ward just as Ward pulled away from McGuinness, but nothing could stop Cooper from victory as he lifted his sixth Stars crown to equal Rutter’s mark.
Hodson had the advantage in the regulars battle, holding fourth place for the opening laps until Daley was able to close him down and move ahead before Hodson dropped a further place when Ash Beech took fifth place on the final lap.
Carrying form into the shortened club championship races, Hodson snatched Peak Cup victory over Daley with Ash Stone settling for third place in the tricky conditions, but it was enough for Stone to clinch the title with eight points to spare.
The combined Junior/Senior race followed with another record created despite some non-regular competitors finishing ahead of the Championship contenders. Senior class competitor Andrew Widdowson took the overall win ahead of Jake Hopper on a Junior machine, but neither of these riders were eligible for Championship points. Behind these, Junior class rider McAuley Longmore found himself in sixth place after the first lap before moving into fourth behind James Bull. With Bull retiring on the last lap, Longmore inherited third place overall and the top points score with his haul of 30 lifting him to third in the championship.
Tyler Howe had a strong ride on a new machine finishing behind Longmore, but the championship race was between three young ladies and they were in their own battle throughout the race and separated by just 0.5sec across the finish line as Katie Hand finished eighth overall to become the club’s first female solo Champion ahead of Scarlett Robinson. David Glossop finished fifth Overall, but was first points scorer home in the Senior Class as he clinched the Senior title.
The combined Formula 600/Pre-Injection race was won by Joey Thompson after a battle with Stephen Parsons at the head of the field until Parsons retired a few laps from the end, handing Thompson a 15sec cushion at the head of the field over Brad Vicars. With Thompson ineligible for Championship points, Vicars received the race win tally, taking him to fourth in the standings after just two points scoring rides. The Championship race was between Rich Baker and Mini Sound of Thunder Champion David Carson, hoping to add the Formula 600 title to this year’s success.
Carson finished the opening lap in fourth with Baker sixth, but by lap two Baker was onto his back wheel until he found a way past and stretch out a 2.5second advantage. Then disaster hit Carson as he retired on lap nine just as Baker recorded his fastest lap of the race and with Parsons also out, he inherited third overall with no threat to his points lead.
The Pre-Injection class was won by Stuart Bradbury after a slow start left him down in 15th place before he battled through to finish fifth overall after passing fellow PI600 rider Andrew Lowe on the final lap to take the championship title. It also allowed Bradbury to collect the Jake Hingly Trophy, in memory of the later former Darley Moor racer. With no title challengers competing at this meeting Baker was also able to lift the Sound of Thunder title without turning a wheel.
In the closest race of the day, Liam Clements put in a superb effort to try and save his title aspirations in the Honda CB500/Suzuki Bandit championship. With a 26-point gap to title leader Mark Brailsford, who had won all races in the first five rounds, it was going to be a big ask. Crossing the line sixth after the opening lap and with Brailsford fourth it was looking unlikely, but Clements managed to move ahead of his rival on lap five and another two laps later he was into second, with almost three seconds to the leader, Dave Grace. By the penultimate lap Clements was just 0.5sec from Grace’s wheel and with the help of the fastest lap of the race, on the final lap, a full second quicker than the leader, he took the race win by 0.4sec with Brailsford dropped to seventh but holding on by four points to clinch the crown.
Peak Cup rivals Daley and Stone were also battling it out in the combined Open Solo/Pre-Injection/Sound of Thunder race and whilst Stone had lifted the Peak Cup title it was Daley who had the advantage over Stone. After losing out to Stone earlier in the day Daley was not going to let his rival take the Open Solo title as well, making certain he went on to take victory, finishing 2.5sec ahead of Stone. Adam Walters put two hands on the Pre-Injection championship after finishing ahead of his two closest challengers, Anthony Froggatt and Andrew Boulton.
Coming into this final round, the Lightweight championship was the closest with just one point separating the top two – High Peak title rivals Chris Moore and James Ford. But with a guest entry from solo and sidecar ace Dan Sayle, the Manxman cruised to the win over Moore and Ford after lapping almost a second quicker than anyone else – despite his 10sec jump start penalty – leaving Moore to notch up another Lightweight crown.
Tony Griffiths added to his impressive club tally as he ensured the title in the Classic & Forgotten Era 251cc- 500cc ranks with a flag-to-flag outright victory in the combined race. David Bradley was the first of the 501cc -1300cc machines home in third to take another championship while Graham Oakley was the first of the smaller up to 250cc machines home as he clinched his title.
Marking his maiden outing alongside his son George and passenger Oscar Lawrence, John Holden and Tom Bryant – though not eligible for points – scorched to the first Sidecar win over fellow Formula 600 runners Howard Baker and Mike Killingsworth.
Championship leaders Roger and Bradley Stockton could only manage sixth in this opening Sidecar race, but this was enough to secure the title while Open Sidecar leaders Roy Tansley and Jack Fox finished fifth overall to clinch their trophy. In the second outfit scrap and the final race of the season, the younger Holden and Lawrence crew beat the elder Holden and Bryant by more than 2.5sec to end on a high.
*Images: Tony Else