THE most eagerly awaited two days in the Classic trials calendar comes up next week with the 2017 Hope Technology sponsored Scottish Pre-65 Two Day Trial.
It all takes place on Friday/ Saturday April 28/29 when the event is once again based in the village of Kinlochleven, tucked away at the head of Loch Leven and itself steeped in Scottish Six Days trial history.
The popularity of the Edinburgh and DMC’s Pre-65 Two Day is simply explained by the fact that a total of 327 applications had unfortunately to be whittled down to the 180 places available.
Last year’s winner was Yorkshire’s Dan Clarke on a 500 Triumph – but only by the skin of his teeth after a three-way tie-break with Lancashire’s Ben Butterworth on his 500 Ariel and Cub-mounted Murray Whittaker who came within an ace of becoming the first Scottish rider to take the Pre-65 Premier.
All three are back to try again – two most definitely with unfinished business – but there’s a host of talented riders looking to knock them off their lofty perch in an event where just a little bit of luck is often needed in order to nail that top spot.
Past winners in the entry include Tony Calvert (250 Cub), James Harland (500 Triumph), Paul Heys (250 Triumph), James Noble (500 Ariel), Scott Dommett (250 Dot) and of course the indefatigable legend that is Dave Thorpe (200 Cub), who gets to ride with son Dan this year.
Dan, a winner of well over 100 National trials, is not a Pre-65 regular rider but is more than capable of notching up a win and mounted on a Triumph Cub finished a threatening fifth last year – just a single mark behind the winner!
All the above are well capable of lifting the trophy but there are plenty more cards in the pack.
Eddie Aitkin on his rasping Triumph twin is a likely lad as are Yorkshire pals Stuart Blythe and Paul Dennis on
Cubs, while Channel Islander Graham Du Feu has consistently been in with a shout.
Three-times world trials champion Yrjo Vesterinen is rightly popular with spectators, as is former road-race ace Mick Grant, both riders on self-tuned, highly-competitive Bantams.
Hope Technology sponsor this year’s trial and representing them will be Ian Weatherill and Sam Sharp.
Hope director Ian has contested the Six Days numerous times but this year marks his debut in the Pre-65.
Ian will ride the Ariel that he loaned to Guy Martin to thrash round last year – and after a comprehensive rebuild (Guy did knock lumps off it) it is now ready to go again!
The course will be familiar to regulars as the route on both days will be similar to normal although the section groups have been changed and it ought to be very spectator friendly.
Basically, each day comprises a spur run down the south side of Loch Leven, taking in groups of sections both on the out run and on the return.
There is then a loop out on the moors each day.
Friday will see the entry looping west on the north side of the Loch, up and along the Mamore road to Callart before dropping down the moor (and it is steep) to return to Kinlochleven along the road.
Saturday’s loop is eastwards going out on the moors to Loch Eilde Mor and then Blackwater Dam before returning.
Note that the famous Pipeline sections are only used on Saturday this year.
The trial headquarters is again the Kinlochleven Community Centre and the nearby School is also heavily involved in the trial.
Lochaber Schools Pipe Band will pipe the riders away each day, on Friday from the small car park behind the
Post Office with riders in numerical order.
Saturday starts from the car park in front of the school, rider numbers 91 to 180 followed by No.1 to 90 to even things up a bit.
The school is also running a spectator mini-bus service which proved very popular when introduced last year and really helps alleviate parking problems around the Loch.
Spectators are urged to use it and to contribute generously to the school which throws its doors open to welcome the trial.
All the information you require for a brilliant two days is in the official programme including rider entry list and the routes and section groups for each day with approximate timings so you can work out where and when to see your favourites.
Stuart Edgar, son of well-known Scottish rider and former Scottish Six Days Clerk of the Course Norman Edgar, rides No.1 this year and will get the trial underway at 10am prompt next Friday.
And presenting the prizes on Saturday night will be Guest of Honour, reigning British Trials Champ, former Scottish Six Days Trial winner and Gas Gas factory rider James Dabill.