Most people are aware that the RT Keedwell sponsored British Trials Series has been revamped for 2019. The main class, TrialGB is aimed at riders with World Series experience, Trial2 – which was the Masters – now has a real competitive line-up and the Youth is now Trial125.
Add in the well-supported Expert class and then head down to Hookwoods for the start of the series. A great total of 35 riders had entered the Experts including a good few newcomers to the National scene. In addition we had last year’s winner Ben Morphett, the ever-competitive Dan Thorpe and Chris Stay, who has been sending out strong signals in the early-season events.
All three started well, cleaning the opening two hazards in the bottom subs in the Hook Woods arena but Chris had a dab at section three. Virtually all the class lost maximums at Sandpit which had a horrible rocky climb out. Charlie Smith was by far the best as he floated his Beta out for the only clean of lap one.
Stay, Morphett, Thorpe and Sam Yeomans then remained feet up for the rest of lap one, with Ben riding his trusty two-stroke (Montesa) for the first time in ages. Lap two saw the Isle of Wight’s Chris Stay pull level at the front, losing just two marks, both in single dabs.
Ben was still close but Dan had dropped back four marks adrift. These three looked highly likely to be the podium contenders as Sam Yeomans could not quite get on terms with them.
Stay completed his final lap with just four marks on his scorecard, all lost in single dabs. He shed one of those at Sandpit while his closest rivals both had maximums here. The TRS rider was a happy man at the presentation!
Last season Trial 2 was called the Masters and it did not attract enough riders to challenge Ross Danby for the title, as he won win every round he contested. But for 2019 the class has seen a large increase in contestants, including last year’s Expert winner Richard Sadler and top Youth Mitchell Brightmore. Ross started off well despite two fives on lap one.
Finishing his opening circuit on 13 he was two marks ahead of Sam Connor with Sam Haslam a further couple adrift. Connor actually managed a great clean at section five, as did Haslam and Dec Bullock but it was the next hazard that was a real stopper for the class.
For everyone except Richard Sadler and Alexz Wigg that is, as with the aid of leg power they got to the ends card. When the punch cards were exchanged Ross Danby was leading the way by three, but there was still plenty of time for things to change.
Lap two belonged to Haslam who got round for just 14 marks lost but that still left him just behind Ross. Local man Connor had not quite hit his stride, although he was still comfortably on for a podium place.
Nothing much made you think a win was on the cards for big Sam as he incurred a two-mark loss early on in lap three. By comparison Ross and Sam Haslam both cleaned section two so the pressure was on.
Connor needed a dab at Sandpit but so did his main rivals and it was the next hazard where thing began to swing his way when he got through six for a dab, as nearly everyone else maxed out. This was the hardest sub for the class all day.
We only had three riders in the Trial 125 entry, including Brett Harbud who took a good win over Ben Dignan and Adam Harris. They were riding the same markers as the Experts and found the same section gave them the problems although they also lost marks on the final hazard.
The twelfth was a mixture of tree stumps and rocks opposite the main car park and only Brett cleaned it once. He set three laps that his rivals could not match to give him a 13-mark advantage by the end.
Although it appears reigning Champ James Dabill may not be contesting the series as a whole he was at Hook Woods and he is still the man to beat. There was plenty to interest the neutral with Toby Martyn back with Beta, Billy green having gone the other way to (Montesa) and the Peace brothers now in (Sherco) colours.
The opening circuit saw plenty of cleans on section one but only Dibs cleaned number two. Section three saw Jack price take a five, not a start he would have wanted but there were good cleans from Toby Martyn and Dan Peace.
Many of the spectators gravitated to the Sandpit where the Championship route was tough and spectacular. Price got out for a hard-ridden dab, while Dabill and Dan Peace would not have been too disappointed with a pair of twos.
James took a five on the banks of section seven so he was not getting away from the others yet. Section 11, a rocky and slippery climb, was another sub to see marks on everyone’s punch card.
It may not have looked that hard but it obviously was.
Jack Peace was as good as any riding around at the tail end of the field and the final sub was spectacular but did not worry these riders. Lap two started with Dibs holding a one-mark advantage from Jack Price who had a three on section two and then a five at Sandpit which saw him let out an exasperated roar. Toby Martyn and Pricey were both able to get through for single dabs.
Dabill then went on one of his runs which opened up a lead he would not relinquish. Toby set the best lap of all on his final circuit to claim a solid second place with Jack Price third ahead of Dan Peace and Andy Chilton a fine fifth.