After 15 years of competing nearly every weekend, and practicing in his free time, Iwan Roberts wrote himself into the record books by becoming the first ever FIM Trial2 World Champion with an assured performances throughout the season.
The Beta rider claimed nine podiums in 10 races piling up 159 points in the process. Iwan took the time to tell TMX how his season unfolded on his way to becoming top of the world…
“At the beginning of the year, the only thing that my family and myself had agreed was that we would contest the British Championship and a few European rounds thrown in, based on what we could afford. However, late January, I was approached by Glyn Jones of Jones Brothers Henllan Ltd, asking me about my plans for the year.
On hearing my reply, he immediately contacted John Lampkin at Beta UK as he felt that a year out would jeopardise my future in trials. He negotiated a deal with John Lampkin and Beta, to enable me to contest a full British, European and World Trial2 Championships, for which I will be eternally grateful.
“After the deal with Beta and Jones Brothers Henllan Ltd was finalised, my grandfather and parents decided that they would fund the remaining costs.
“Knowing that everything was in place to contest these championships, and the faith and backing everyone involved was giving me both financially and supportively, I knew that this was ‘now or never’ to become World Champion, and establish myself on the World Trials Scene.
With hindsight, looking at the results of some of my other trials, I realised I focused solely on the World Championship, and should have performed better in the UK.
“But as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and my ambition has been fulfilled. World Champion – and also runner-up in the European Championship.
“Looking at the World Championship itself, I started off with a second in Spain and a third and first in Japan. This settled my nerves for the season, and I began to feel comfortable in the class.
“The only time I was off the podium all season was with a fifth place finish in Andorra, which was disappointing, but this was down to time penalties and not observation, therefore it didn’t rattle me too much.
“I have to admit though, crunch time in the middle of the season came when I flew out to the USA double header in Kingman with a 17-point lead in the Championship, and even though I had two podiums, I came home with my lead slashed to seven points after Grabriel Marcelli (Spain) won both days.
“I could feel that everyone around me (friends & family) were nervous of this, especially my father who has always said ‘pressure breeds mistakes’, but my confidence was still there, and I knew that if I kept consistent over the last rounds, I’d be fine. Thankfully this was the case, and I was so pleased to take the championship by 18 marks in the end.
The long haul flights to Japan and USA were tiring, and the jetlag was awful, but having been to these fly away rounds before, I knew what to expect beforehand.
“As regards travelling over Europe – Harry, Kenny and myself had a whale of a time living for weeks on end in the motorhome.
I think it helped that we were all on the same level, even though my cousin Kenny is just a tad older than us (he’s nudging 59! Haha).
Even though we had a good time, it was still very tiring, and I can’t thank Harry and Ken enough for giving up their time to be able to make the World and European rounds happen.
“This season saw a new format for the World Championships – with European rounds of the WTC going to single days, and bringing in the timed qualification section.
“When it comes to the timed qualification, I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t my strong point, as I am too focussed on trials and being a composed rider rather than racing. The only time I can put speed into my riding is during the Scott Trial, which again is totally different. Thankfully my qualification results didn’t affect my trial results.
“The only negative of the new format is that we travel thousands of miles to the World rounds, with a day or two in hand to spare, and only compete for one day. Personally I feel it would be nice for all rounds to be two days of competition. Otherwise I feel that what Sport7 has done to promote the sport this year has been hugely beneficial.
“They have given it a very professional platform and boosted its recognition – through means of social media, videos, live scoring etc.
I’d like to thank all my supporters for their support over the past few years, their messages and donations have kept me going and kept me determined.
“I’d also like to thank my sponsors for this season – Beta Factory, Beta UK, Jones Brothers Henllan Ltd, John Roberts Ffestiniog Ltd, Amcanu Ltd, Michelin, Putoline, Renthal, Copley, Boyesen, Twin Air, Apico, Talon, Stylmartin and MOTS.”