Here we are again (already) with the biggest week in British Trials now just over a week away – which means of course the 2019 SSDT (Scottish Six Days Trial).
From Monday May 6 to Saturday May 11 Edinburgh and DMC will run the annual marathon based in Fort William, nestling alongside Loch Linnhe in the Highlands.
A brief history of the Scottish Six Days Trial
The original ‘Scottish’ back in 1907 was actually a five-day reliability trial and it wasn’t until 1932 that the observed format that we understand today was adopted.
First observed winner was Killin resident Bob McGregor on a Rudge, when British bikes ruled the roost.
Bob was victorious again in 1935, and no Scot has won the Scottish since although Gary Macdonald, from Kinlochleven, has come agonisingly close on several occasions.
As you would expect, a host of all-time feet-up greats have won the Six Days with the first hat-trick being AJS mounted Hugh Viney from 1947 to 1949.
Viney won four times in total as did his AJS successor Gordon Jackson.
The great Sammy Miller won five, two on Ariel and then three on Bultaco. His first Bultaco win in 1965 heralded the end of British bike domination and brought about the Spanish Armada with Montesa and Ossa joining Bultaco.
Ironically, Sammy’s defection eventually caused the formation of the British Bike dominated Pre-65 Classic movement – and of course the Scottish Pre-65 Two Day Trial.
Sam’s Scottish exploits were soon matched by Derbyshire’s Mick Andrews who was dubbed Monarch of the Glen by the specialist press for his exploits on Ossa and Yamaha.
It is fitting that the late, much-missed Martin Lampkin nailed a hat-trick for Bultaco from 1976-78 while his life-long friend and arch-rival Malcolm Rathmell took the second of his two victories the following year. Yorkshire character Bill Wilkinson bagged his victory in 1969 on a Greeves, which was the last win by a rider on a British machine. And Bill is the 2019 Guest of Honour and will flag the riders away from the Fort William start this year – 50 years after his long-remembered success.
The first win by an overseas rider came in 1980 with Montesa-mounted Finn Yrjo Vesterinen which started an eight-year ‘foreign’ run.
Vesty was followed by Frenchman Gilles Burgat, American Bernie Schreiber (both on Italian SWM) Spain’s Toni Gorgot (Montesa), a hat-trick for Fantic-mounted French ace Thierry Michaud and Spanish legend Jordi Tarres (Beta) before our own Steve Saunders stopped the rot with four straight wins from 1988-92.
Isle of Man ace Steve Colley claimed four wins in total, three in the 1990s and the last in 2000 while the Dougie Lampkin era began in 1994 with a hat-trick for Beta.
Brits ruled the roost again and you can see in the winnners’ table that Graham Jarvis nailed four victories while the only foreign riders to take top spot were the popular Spanish ace Amos Bilbao in 2002 and a somewhat surprise win for compatriot Joan Pons the following year.
Amos is back again this year, riding close to his pal Dougie, while as last year the oldest previous winner still riding is Frenchman Burgat who claimed his win in 1981 as a 19-year-old.
Talented Brits Sam Connor, Graham Jarvis, Alexz Wigg James Dabill (twice) have rightly enjoyed their own glory with epic victories in the greatest trial of them all…
And bringing us right up to date of course is Dougie Lampkin who took his first Premier as a teenager in 1994 and has of course dominated the trial for the last SEVEN years and now boasts a total of a round dozen wins….and in 2019 is going for 12+1…
Don’t miss: SSDT Winners – Scottish Six Days Trial
Now here again – despite requests – we bring you our annual canter through the runners and riders from numbers 1-281 and while every rider entered has a story to tell and a reason to be under starter’s orders, space dictates that it just isn’t possible so as ever, please don’t take offence if you don’t get a mention!
As already stated Catalan veteran Carles Casas celebrates his 30th SSDT appearance with the No.1 plate and will leave the start ramp at 7.30am on Monday Morning, May 6.
The first Scot to be flagged away will be Bon Accord Clubman Alastair Millar (4) with regular west country entrants Scott (7) and Mark (8) Cameron also on an early start.
First girl to get the week underway will be the unflappable Victoria Payne (21) while Eastbourne’s Tom Moss (25) could well be a Best First Timer candidate.
Andrew Anderson (36) will have an eye on the Best Scottish rider award as will Lochaber club’s Calum Murphy (39) so these two will have added incentive all week!
Top 10 contender Tom Minta (44) has his Scorpa boss Nigel Birkett (45) riding shotgun with veteran Birks again targeting a top 100 finish.
There’s a great history of family participation in the Scottish with brothers, cousins, dads and lads, dads and daughters and brothers Joe (52) and George (58) Spivey add to this rich mix. Roy Palmer (60) will be reminded every time he approaches his bike exactly how old he is as he turned 60 this year! He gets to ride round with pal Nigel Scott (63) who is a first-timer.
Gavin Johnston (65) is a multi winner of the Best Scot award while Jean Luc Nictou (68) is a former World No.10 rider, back for a nostalgic ride in the Highlands.
He has been back to ride the Pre-65 Two Day on an Ariel in recent years and he brings countryman Benoit Dagnicourt (69) another World Championship competitor.
Popular German rider Jan Peters (70) loves his Scottish and this year gets to shepherd first-timer Theresa Bauml (72) through her SSDT debut.
It’s the big one next, Dougie Lampkin (73) who will get to lighten the load of expectation riding and exchanging laughs with long-time pal (and former Scottish winner) Amos Bilbao (75), while Francesc Moret (77) gets to benefit enormously from a tour with this vastly experienced duo.
There’s a wealth of talent around this group with Ross Danby (79), Luke Walker (81), Ross’s TRS team-mate Iwan Roberts (82) and the ever-present Hemingway brothers Dan (83) and Ben (85) as much a part of the Scottish as Fort William!
Chloe Richardson (90) is second only to Doug when it comes to sheer determination while the duelling duo Guy Kendrew (93) and Richard Sadler (94) will watch each other like hawks through all 180 sections.
Gary Pears (95) and Paul Nicholson (100) have around 60 SSDT starts between them and are the essence of the trial, while Richard Fraser (109) currently leads the ACU S3 Parts Clubman series.
There’s a plethora of talent coming up now with potential winner James Dabill (111) Italian Beta team-mate Filippo Locca (112).
First-timer Jane Daniels (113) will have a fabulous week’s trials school, especially with Manx ace Juan Knight (115) right behind and looking forward to showing his first-timer son Tom the ropes.
And fellow first-timer Connor Hogan (117), all the way from Australia, can lean on Juan for guidance.
Next up is always upbeat Dec Bullock (118), sure to be a front runner, while Gareth Andrews (120) is a regular Ulster visitor along with pal Andy Perry (124).
In between nestle British teenage first timers Gus Oblein (121) and Adam Juffs (123) and the Ulstermen will be more than happy to keep the lads on the right track.
And the talent keeps on coming with Gas Gas UK riders Michael Brown (128) and Jack Price (130) sandwiching bossman John Shirt (129). Shirty won’t know which way to look!
Then there’s Sherco’s Emma Bristow (131) and James Fry (132) and former winner Sam Connor (135) riding with pal Jonny Starmer (136).
Ploughing on through the never-ending entry Allan Adamson (137) and Neil Dawson (141) could ride round blindfold, as could Swiss regular Dominique Gillaume (148) and it’s good to see enduro champ Tom Sagar (153) back with dad Paul (156) and sandwiched between them French pals Fred Michaud (154) – brother of three-times Scottish winner Thierry – and 1981 World Champ and SSDT winner Gilles Burgat (155).
The Acklams Beta boys are next with Sam Yeadon (160), Dave Mawer (161) and Joel Sadler (162) up for a week of fun followed by a run of 10 Scots riders topped and tailed by Leo Salvadori (163) and Neil Wilson (172).
Phil Wiffen (175) is a serial Best Services rider while Lewis (178) and Liston (181) Bell are the grandsons of legendary SSDT stalwart Willie Dalling.
Bringing up the double-century of riders is Devonian Joe Baker (200) a former Best on Day man while Stu Blythe (204) will have the irrepressible Roger Williams (206) to entertain him all week!
Dan Thorpe (208) heads another long run of top talent beginning with wife Katy Sunter Thorpe (209) who in turn has brothers Mark (213) and John (215) at the party.
Also in this bunch are Chris Pearson (210), Phil Alderson (211) out on a new TRS and Hannah Styles (212).
And right in this mix are north Yorkshire brothers and Sherco factory runners Dan (214) and Jack (216) Peace who will be looking for a top-five finish.
Then there’s Chris Alford (219), sister Louise (221) who was unfortunate to pick up a knee injury last year and Chris’s better half, the ever smiling Jess Bown (222).
Alexz Wigg (223) was the proud winner in 2010 and gets to ride with pals Jack Lee (224) and Sam Haslam (225) while first-time Spanish lady Rosa Torres (237) has an experienced bunch to follow.
Brothers Jake (244) and Joel (246) Gowan get to ride together as first-timers but have the experienced Trevor Willans (248) to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Northern Vertigo dealer Tom Affleck (268) should enjoy some good days while Eastbourne club stalwart Tony Martin (269) makes his Fort William debut.
And finally, local Lochaber clubman Gary MacLennan (281) will be last man away on Monday afternoon.
Work it out for yourselves, 281 riders starting at one per minute from 7.30am.
The starting order is rotated each day to even out any advantages of late starting, No.48 starting on Tuesday, No.95 Wednesday etc.
Bring it on…
2019 SSDT Prediction
So who’s going to win the 2019 Scottish Six Days Trial?
Well, surprise surprise it’s deja vu all over again and just as last year it would be easier to ask who would bet against Dougie Lampkin extending his winning run to eight events in a row and breaking new ground in Scottish totals to 12 plus 1.
Yes, Doug is another year older at 43 but The Scottish fire still burns bright in his breast and he has trained harder than ever in his quest for one more win.
And when Doug wants to win everything else goes out of the window!
It is only two years ago that Doug matched Gordon Jackson’s one-dab ride (achieved back in 1961) and that is something that was said would never be done achieved as observed trials is a different ball-game these days!
It is an amazing thing to say but Doug is STILL the man to beat and come Monday morning, May 6 he ill have the race face set for the week.
Of course there’s plenty of things to potentially stymie this. Mechanical failure and personal injury or illness are just two things you can do nothing about.
And on the course, with 280 riders on the case, sections can alter drastically throughout the day while you are always at the mercy of the elements. An individual section can be bathed in sunshine for several hours – and drenched in heavy rain with rapidly rising water levels for the rest of the day. Or vice versa! Once again the main challenge must come from fellow Yorkie, factory Beta rider James Dabill. The Dibsta is of course already a two-time Scottish winner, and was the last man to lift the JR Alexander Trophy back in in 2011 before Dougie began his unstoppable run of victories.
James and Doug staged an epic battle last year with Dibs desperately unlucky on the final day to have the rear tyre roll off the rim in a Ben Nevis hazard and the five-mark penalty as the wheel spun uselessly in the rubber cost him victory for sure.
Gas Gas ace Jack Price would be the third name to look for on the podium if I had to pick a hard betting 1-2-3 but there’s a host of top British National riders all with other ideas.
Jack’s Gas Gas team-mate Michael Brown is high on the list and while Scarbrough’s best hasn’t been a regular rider this last year his talent will always shine through.
And still with Gas Gas, pals Richard Sadler and Guy Kendrew will both be pushing for high top-10 placings.
Brothers Dan and Jack Peace head the Sherco challenge and the sibling rivalry alone will drive them along. Luke Walker is also sure to challenge for the Blue team.
Scorpa have Andy Chilton and Tom Minta, seventh and 11th last year while TRS field the often underestimated Ross Danby and Welsh ace Iwan Roberts.
Beta have Italian first-timer Filippo Locca as a wildcard and he will at least get the benefit of all James Dabill’s experience.
And look out for Spaniard Francesc Moret who could spring a surprise on the Montesa.
There’s no Gary Macdonald this year as Gmac is taking a break so Best Scot is well and truly up for grabs. Andrew Anderson and young Joe Dawson are surely top candidates or the Lochaber club’s Calum Murphy and Duncan McColl.
Emma Bristow looks nailed on for the Ladies once again but as for the Newcomers that looks like anyone’s guess this year.
Will it be close to the end or will someone jump out of the pack? French rider Benoit Dagnicourt and Italian Filippo Locca might be worth a punt…
WE said last year that recently there has been a welcome boost in the number of Ladies riding the event, as previously there had often been lone brave attempts by pioneering women like Marjorie Cottle, Mary Driver, Lindsey Howard and multi British champ Becky Cook.
More recently the girls have really been making their presence felt.
We have seen World Champions Laia Sanz, Iris Kramer and of course our own Emma Bristow lifting the standard, although it all went wrong for Laia when she retired from the event due to a road accident towards the end of the Friday run on the Moidart peninsular when – as expected – the Barcelona girl was well placed.
Katy Sunter Thorpe has also done much to boost the profile of Women’s trials having competed in multiple SSDTs and Scott events.
This year the trial boasts 10 lady riders, one more than 2018, the first time that double figures have been achieved and spearheaded once again by undisputed World No.1 Emma Bristow, who will be mixing it with the boys and looking for another Special First Class award on her factory Sherco.
As last year Emma will be joined by the Richmond club’s Katy Sunter (Gas Gas) and Chloe Richardson (Beta), plus Jess Bown (Scorpa), Louise Alford (Gas Gas) and Victoria Payne (Sherco), all British National trial regulars and well-known on the World and European stage.
British first timers in 2019 are experienced enduro rider Jane Daniels (Gas Gas) – who is no slouch on a trials bike – and comeback queen Hannah Styles who has overcome severe back problems to return strongly on her Vertigo.
Also making a welcome first trip to Scotland are top German rider Theresa Bauml (TRS) and unknown (to us!) Spanish girl Rosa Torres Ferraz (Sherco).
Here’s hoping they all have a good week and all reach the finish.
THE Scottish Six Days Trial is exactly what it says!
Six days of fantastic trials that has been based in Fort William (it previously started and finished in Edinburgh) since the mid 1970s, with the town’s West End car park – situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe and nestling under the highest mountain in Great Britain, Ben Nevis – taken over for the duration of the event as parc ferme.
The impressive entry of over 280 riders – and the event is always heavily oversubscribed -–face Six Days of the finest trials country on earth.
The Scottish always takes place on the first FULL week in May which in 2019 means Monday, May 6.
Under the guidance of Clerk of the Course Jeff Horne, the Edinburgh and DMC team will mark out a totally different course each day varying in mileage from just under 60 to over 120 – each day providing 30 sections in total. The trial marking out team obviously work a day ahead so rarely get chance to see the results of their week-long labours.
The road and off-road mileage varies each day and the longest routes are not necessarily the hardest physically – although they could be!
Obviously the weather can play a huge part and the exceptionally dry year of 2017 predictably led to a huge demand for entries last year which exceeded 500!
2018 did see a couple of wet days, Wednesday’s run round to Oban being the most incessant, which dampened demand slightly for this year!
Very wet weeks usually see a higher retirement rate, usually traced to bikes overheating as riders fail to keep their bike’s radiators clean.
So, the 2019 event will take in just over 500 miles in total with the usual mix of road and off-road.
The traditional Monday opening route, easing competitors into the week with a gentle 70 miles will feature early morning action at Leanachen before heading up to Spean Bridge and then across to Kinlochleven via Blackwater to finish at Lagnaha -– where spectators are recommended to test the awesome cakes and tea courtesy of the locals.
Tuesday sees the return of a familiar route after the team gave the ground a rest and it starts with a 24 mile road ride – lovely on a fine day, not so much fun in the wet – to historic Laggan Lochs and then over the moors to spectator favourite Creag Lundie. Then there’s the long forest and moorland return to Witches Burn and parc ferme after 107 real Scottish miles.
Wednesday will see competitors head south down the A82, then across the Loch Linnhe narrows on the Corran ferry. There will be sections at Ardgour and Carnoch before riders head across country via remote Loch Shiel, returning to The Fort via Trotters Burn, and another 80 miles on the clock!
The traditional Thursday run, although a few miles shorter than last year, is still the longest run of the week at 101 miles.
It starts with a ride down historic Glencoe to Chairlift and Ba House before heading off over bleak Rannoch moor, circling round to the final group fo the day at Fersit. Spectators allow 45 minutes to an hour’s gentle uphill walk to the group.
Friday is the traditional mainly road-based 101-mile ride round the stunning Moidart peninsula which is excellent for spectators with almost all the groups situated just off-road.
Just take care when parking – DO NOT cause an obstruction and please be courteous to local traffic which WILL be coming the other way on the single-track roads.
You have now made it to the final day which at a mere 60 miles looks a gimme but the ride to Kinlochleven and then round the moors to finish on Ben Nevis (not forgetting the final section up Town Hall Brae for the benefit of the Fort William locals) is mainly track and off-road with all competitors praying that they get no last-minute disasters.
There’s always at least one hard-luck story.
Riders can now sign off and have a well-earned beer (or three) which goes down just as well whether you are celebrating a first Scottish finish or a 30th.