2012 Trial des Nations
The home nation of the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme will have the honour of hosting the FIM Trial des Nations for the first time in the ninety-eight-year history of the Swiss mototorcycle federation. The twenty- ninth edition of this historic team event will take place at the town of Moutier, which was also the scene of the final round of the 2004 FIM Trial World Championship. Sitting in the north-west region of the country, Moutier is located very close to the French border and has a very modest population of around eight thousand people. The riders will face a course that will range from five hundred metres to just over one thousand metres above sea level in this mountainous area.
Ironically despite this being the first time that the FIM Trial des Nations has taken place in Switzerland, they are one of only five countries that has competed in every edition of this event since it was first conceived. Back in 1984 during that inaugural team competition Switzerland recorded their best every result by taking fifth place during an early era when all the teams were classified in a single class. Since the introduction of the International Trophy Group in 1995, the Swiss team has contested this supporting class without exception. This later period has seen Switzerland finish in fourth spot on two different occasions, 2005 in Italy and 2007 in Great Britain.
These achievements need to be put in context, with the relevant small Swiss motorcycle federation only being made up of one hundred and sixty individual clubs across its limited territory. Although limited in size the country has never lacked ambition and has long been a part of the FIM Trial World Championship including hosting a round of the series during its first ever edition back in 1975. That particular event was run in the south of the country and was won by Finnish rider Yrjo Vesterinen who was joined on the podium by Nigel Birkett and Malcolm Rathmell respectively.
French rider Thierry Michaud was the nearest the Swiss ever had to a home winner when he won the Trial Grand Prix in Grimmialp in 1985. Britain’s Martin Lampkin, Ulf Karlsson from Sweden and Belgium’s Eddy Lejeune, the latter recording two wins, were all victorious on Swiss soil from 1976 to 1983. The next succession of FIM Trial World Championship events held in Switzerland between 1987 and 1994 - four in total - were dominated by Jordi Tarres with the Spanish rider’s run only broken by Donato Miglio in 1990. The last two editions of the Swiss Trial Grand Prix in 1999 and 2004 were a British lock out with Dougie Lampkin winning all four days of competition.
Eight years on and all eyes will once again be focused on the small town of Moutier as this relatively unknown destination prepares to welcome teams from all over the World, both men and women, to compete in the twenty ninth edition of the FIM Trial des Nations as it takes place in Switzerland for the first time in its long history. Two days of international action will be preceded by the final round of the 2012 FIM Women’s Trial World Championship.