To win the Scottish Six Days Trial is way beyond the imagination of all trials riders except for the very select few to whom it is just about possible. To actually win the trial is the achievement of a lifetime. To win the SSDT more than once comes to just the very few who are right at the top of their chosen sport, but to win the world famous Scottish classic NINE times is being downright greedy!! But that is what Dougie Lampkin achieved last week when he overcame a second day mini-disaster to stamp and confirm his long time authority on this trial and put his incredible record of victories firmly out of the reach of any other rider for decades. And the 39 year old, now virtually retired from competitive trials riding – he rides maybe a handful of events each year – was once again as dominant as any rider can be, pulling off clean after clean to win by the comfortable margin of 11 marks. Second was Scotsman Gary Macdonald who many would like to be the first Scottish born winner for donkey’s years who was tied on marks with Sam Haslam.
Incredible as it may seem, it’s now 21 years since he first won this trial and on current form there are few who would bet against him winning a tenth trial in 2016.
But not only did Lampkin win his ninth Scottish, he did it on a brand new, virtually untested machine in the form of the 300 Vertigo, that is the brainchild of Manel Jane, the Spanish businessman whose love of our sport gave him the incentive to fund the development and production of a totally new machine. Manel could not win the trial himself, but he knew who could, and in taking on Lampkin as the Vertigo Team Manager with James Dabill as the main factory rider, there was every chance that one of them would prove victorious. And he was right with first and fourth!
There’s no doubt that the Vertigo and Lampkin were the highlight of the week, but much of the bankside chat between enthusiasts out watching the action centred around the future of the Spanish trials manufacturers. It’s been reported on here that Gas Gas are in financial difficulties, with few new machines having been produced in recent months, though it’s understood that production will soon restart, whilst production of Ossa and Jotagas is in very small numbers.
Which begs the question, those three manufacturers between them probably produce more than half the worldwide supply of trials machines, and if they are no longer in a position to produce many bikes, then the market is immediately very short of new machines for purchase. Those surviving manufacturers, Sherco, Beta, Scorpa and Montesa/Honda could well find it difficult to immediately increase their production to fill the gap, so with the possible dearth of bikes to buy, there’s a good chance that prices may rise as demand outstrips supply.
However, Steve Saunders tells me that the JTS from the Jordi Tarres organisation is scheduled for production towards the end of this year and the Vertigo production run could well be imminent to capitalise on the SSDT success of last week.
Those of us who have been to the Scottish many times, and this year was my 39th visit to Fort William for the Highland week, it has to be said that the spectator attendance seems to get fewer by the year. Quite whether that is so is difficult to quantify as many enthusiasts visit the Scottish and Pre 65 Scottish for short periods of time. Many visit the Pre 65 and return home immediately after the trial having little or no interest in the modern bike event. Equally many visit to see the Pre 65 two day, stay for Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday and then go home whilst others arrive at various times through the following week and take in a few days of the trial, so perhaps the overall numbers remain the same as the years pass. There’s certainly not the numbers crowding the sections that featured in photographs from the ‘sixties and ‘seventies when many hundreds trudged up the hillsides to watch the stars of the day.
But that’s the way of the world for there’s no doubt it can be an expensive week if you stay in hotel accommodation, go out each evening for a meal and then of course there’s the fuel costs to get there. But, there’s no doubt it’s a great event and once again the Edinburgh Club seamlessly produced a great pair of trials.
My last column, three or was it four weeks ago, rather surprisingly – to me at least – produced loads of comments with regard to the subject matter of riders entering national trials and then not appearing. I’m not going to go into it further here, except to say that the interest was very rewarding for me, as the writer’s point of view, as when these occasional ramblings are produced, one has very little idea of how many actually read it and what they think.
I obviously hit a sore point last time!