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25th September 2013

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Darley Moor Thunderfest 2013

Classic motorcycle riders made haste smoothly to take top honours at this timed trial of riding skill and expertise...

Despite the hostile weather forecast, the sun broke through the clouds for the start of the Thunderfest at Darley Moor, with a packed grid of classic riders striving to reach their personal target times in a challenging 16-lap competition. The Thunderfest is an unusual time trial for classic bike enthusiasts - a test of riding skill as well as speed. Competitors decide what their own average speed over the course will be, and then battle to ride smoothly and consistently to achieve it.

Taking it seriously... Rick Quinlan, 900 Honda, got within 0.26mph of his target speed

The bikes selected for the event ranged from early Honda 250s to more modern machines, bringing a great display of biking nostalgia to the Darley Moor paddock. The riders were equally diverse with current classic racers and hillclimbers mixing it with gentleman riders who had very limited track experience. This event appeals to all sorts because, unlike some competitive track days and almost all races, being the fastest flash lad on the track doesn't necessarily bag the big prizes. Another of the key features of the Thunderfest is that participants don't need an ACU road-race licence but can ride with a sprint, hillclimb or single-event licence purchased on the day.

Full fairings make bikes look less interesting... Dave Perry - 750 Honda Class A runner-up

After two long free practice and qualifying sessions, it was time for riders to declare their target speed for the Thunderfest itself which is run over 20 minutes, plus on lap. As the time sheets were being distributed, the first huge blobs of rain fell and now riders had to take a bet on the weather staying dry - or the predicted storm arriving!

At one end, there were the optimists led by Frank Melling on his Seeley Suzuki. Frank said: 'I had managed a few laps at over 70mph in practice so I let Martin Crook (the Chief Technical Officer for the event) persuade me that that 63mph was achievable in the damp. What neither of us counted on was the epic rain which was arrived the moment I gave in my time sheet.'

GT500? T500? Who knows... Class B Runner-up Ian Jackson - 500 Suzuki

By contrast, last year's winner, Rick Quinlan, took a much more conservative approach predicting a 50mph average and managing to get within an incredible 0.26mph of the time which made him the outright winner for 2013.

Ah, Kawasaki brown. A quality colour... Class B winner Mark Stubbs - 400 Kawasaki

Jim Ross made the long trip from Scotland to Darley Moor and took home the C1 class trophy for his efforts being only 0.6mph off his target. Meanwhile, Mark Stubbs, from Crewe, coaxed his 400 Kawasaki round through the monsoon rain to win class B. Said Mark: 'The weather didn't really spoil it and I was gob-smacked when I won my class. That's probably the only time a standard Z400 road bike has won a competitive event of any kind!'


  • Class A: Rick Quinlan, 900 Honda
  • Runner-up: Dave Perry, 750 Honda
  • Class B: Mark Stubbs, 400 Kawasaki
  • Runner-up: Ian Jackson, 500 Suzuki
  • Class C: Jim Ross, 350 Aermacchi
  • Runner-up: Cliff Shorter, 350 Ducati

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