AFTER several years of trying and achieving agonising near-misses, Dan Thorpe finally took victory in the Pre-65 Scottish Two Day Trial in Kinlochleven last Friday and Saturday.
And in doing so he made history as he joined his dad Dave as the first ‘dad and lad’ to win the trial!
Dan took his Tiger Cub through the event’s 60 sections – 30 each day – for just a single dab, which makes the trial appear easy.
It was anything but, though, and Dan had just one mark in hand over Lancashire’s Ben Butterworth and local star Gary MacDonald, winner of the trial for the last two years.
Ariel-mounted Ben got the verdict on the tie-break from Gary, who this year was Tiger Cub mounted.
At the end of the opening day’s 30 sections, which comprised some tough rolling rockery, made loose by the unseasonably dry conditions, it was as tight as ever following some fantastic riding.
On the originally released results (which were amended on the second day after a clerical error involving the difficult top sub at Cnoc a Linnhe) no fewer than four riders shared the first day lead.
They were former winner Dan Clarke and fellow Dan, Dan Thorpe on lightweight Tiger Cubs, contrasted by the heavyweight 500 Ariel of Lancashire’s Ben Butterworth plus the little two-stroke Bantam of Ulster’s Stephen Murphy. Gary Mac, on a hat-trick of wins of course after winning for the last two years, was a mark further back, this year mounted on a Cub following a 180 Bantam in 2017 and a 500 Triumph twin in 2018 and GMac shared his place with Ireland’s Ariel-mounted, experienced Mark Harries.
Gary’s ride suffered on the steep, loose, twisting climb at Caolasnacon towards the end of his day when it all went wrong in the final six feet before the Ends cards.
He reckoned he used bottom gear instead of second and he had nothing left in the engine room just when he really needed it. A total of 34 riders managed to keep their scores in single figures on a course that included a tough but satisfying moorland loop out to the Blackwater reservoir, high above Pipeline.
There was also a spur down the road south of Kinlochleven taking in several different group, including Cnoc a Linnhe where that final steep, tight and rocky fourth and final sub once again proved the hardest of the day.
The second day also included the road ‘spur’, taking in the different groups plus the off-road loop which headed off down the famous Mamore road with groups of sections before reaching Callert and heading down the steep hillside to the road to return to Kinlochleven.
It is always incredibly close right through the order and the percentage of error between winning and losing is miniscule and the battle between the big 500 singles and twins and the smaller Bantams and Cubs is far from over as there is a mix both at the top and down the results.
With 199 eventual starters, Chips Crayk was a late withdrawal having broken his leg, as was former winner Rob Bowyer who had suffered a shoulder injury.
A total of 18 retirements (mostly mechanical) wasn’t too bad although a high-profile casualty was previous winner Dan Clark, while Nick Jefferies went out with a seized Bantam engine and faced a long push off the Mamore road.
Young Thorpey – dad Dave was also riding, possibly for the last time in the event according to the legend himself – dropped his dab as early as the fifth section on Pollock Hill and then went clean for the remainder of the trial, which of course meant all day Saturday.
Gary Mac also managed the feat but the damage had already been done and so this year it was third place, behind Ben Butterworth and the 500 Ariel.
Buttie’s daily score of one and one could have won him the trial on many years.
Ulsterman Stephen Murphy and Kinlochleven clubman Calum Murphy took fourth and fifth on their Bantams while Whitby’s Colin Bailey was always in the running riding with pal Nev Pybus.
American Dennis Sweeten had his best ride in three attempts and was well pleased with his Up to 350cc award.
Other notable rides came from Yrjo Vesterinen, Norman Shepherd, Phil Wiffen and Mick Grant as the Oldest Finisher.
Dad and lad Chris and Sam Clarke managed to complete 60 sections and lose exactly the same number of marks, just 15.
With cold but dry weather, give or take the odd snow and hail flurry, there were plenty of smiling finishers signing off on Saturday afternoon at the end of another successful Pre-65.
Scottish Pre-65 Trial
Premier: Dan Thorpe (Cub) 1
Second: Ben Butterworth (Ariel) 2
Third: Gary MacDonald (Cub) 2
Best 1st Day: Ben Butterworth (Ariel) 1
Best 2nd Day: Dan Thorpe (Cub) 0
Best Foreign rider: Stephen Murphy (Bantam) 3
Best Newcomer: Kiaran Hankin (Bantam) 9
Best Scottish: Calum Murphy (Bantam) 4
Best Over 60: Yrjo Vesterinen (Bantam) 10
Rigid Over 250cc: Gary Shaw (Triumph) 89
Best Lady: Donna Fox (Bantam) 19
Best 0ver 350cc: Colin Bailey (Ariel) 6
251 to 350cc: Dennis Sweeten (BSA) 19
201 to 250cc: Darren Wasley (Cub) 5
200cc: Norman Shepherd (Bantam) 11
Original Machine: Chris Clarke (BSA) 15
Best AJS/Matchless: Phil Wiffen (Matchless) 18
Oldest finisher: Mick Grant (Bantam) 59
Special First Class Awards: Stephen Murphy (Bantam) 3, Calum Murphy (Bantam) 4, Darren Wasley (Cub) 5, Colin Bailey (Ariel) 6, Neil Dawson (BSA) 7, Rob Weir (Triumph) 8, Kiaran Hankin (Bantam) 9, John Charlton (Triumph) 10, Dennis Sweeten (BSA) 10, Yrjo Vesterinen (Bantam) 10, Norman Shepherd (Bantam) 11, Mark Harries (Ariel) 11, Murray Whittaker (Cub) 11, Andy Hipwell 12, Paul Dennis (Cub) 12, Nick Shield (Triumph) 13, Davy Morewood (Cub) 13, Ian Myers (Cub) 13, Mark Sunter (Ariel) 14, Mark Reynolds (Cub) 14.
First Class Awards: Hamish Jamieson (Francis Barnett) 14, Paul Bennett (Francis Barnett) 14, Chris Clarke (BSA) 15, Sam Clarke (Triumph) 15, Scott Alexander (Sprite) 16, Robin Luscombe (Cub) 17, Duncan Mitchell (Triumph) 17, Chris Haigh (Velocette) 17, Mike Watson (Triumph) 18, Michael irving (Ariel) 18, Mark Smith (Ariel) 18, Phillip Harries (BSA) 18, Phillip Wiffen (Matchless) 18, Richard Allen (Velocette) 18, Tyler Murphy (Triumph) 19, Donna Fox (Bantam) 19, Roy Palmer (Velocette) 19, Lewis Bell (Royal Enfield) 20, Ian Payne (Trifield) 20, Kevin Chapman (Triumph) 21, Eric McMeekin 21.
Finishers: Clive Dopson 33, Sean Radcliff 33, Grant Smith 34, William Weatherhead 34, Christopher Myers 34, Michael Flanagan 35, Darren Palmer 36, Damian Ribas 37, Ross Mackay 37, Andrew Black 38, Danny Littlehales 38, David Wilkinson 39, Eugene Salles 40, Angus Jenkinson 42, Peter Archer 42, Stephen Robson 42, Darren Walker 42, Michael Clarke 42, Andrew Dennis 42, Alan Fender 42, John “Ossy” Byers 42, Dave Knaggs 43, Vincent Mackintosh 43, Nigel Greenwood 44, Richard Hildrick 44, Russell Jones 45, Neville Pybus 45, Kevin Ellis 48, Frederic Bergada 50, Lee Granby 50, Anthony Rew 52, Neil Buckley 52, Antoni Guillen 53, Andrew Bingley 53, John Palmer 53, Jon Cushing 55, James Williams 55, Carlos Fernandez 55, David Shave 55, Mike Minns 55, Gary Holmes 56, Billy Bishop 57, Clive Charlton 57, David Thorpe 58, Stuart Edgar 58, Richard Jackson 58, Mick Grant 59, John Chatto 59, Duncan Wright 59, Alastair Jackson 59, John Nichol 60, Darren Phypers 61, John Hawthorne 62, Derek Ramsay 62, Neil Hebdon 63, Sam Sharp 63, Geoff Herbert 64, Graham Law 65, Steve Gollings 65, Stephen Gossop 65, David Strank 66, Michael Batty 66, Andrew Sharp 67, Tom Bartrum 67, Rob Bratley 68, Peter Bald 68, Ben Hollingworth 71, Willie Robertson 71, Daniel Herriott 72, Mark McComisky 72, Colin Fray 73, Graham Hutcheson 73, Javier Gil 74, Gordon Halley 78, Gerry Minshall 78, Colin Benson 79, Garry Dwyer 79, William Harrison 80, Ignacio Martin 82, Hanna Vesterinen 83, Michael Bell 83, Andrew Nicholson 84, Kevin Witting 86, Garry Shaw 89, Martyn Nelson 90, Michael Dorricott 92, Kevin Rivington 94, James Oppen 98, Michael Sanderson 99, Tony Bradley 99, Calum Proctor 99, Graham Greaves 100, Bruce Metcalf 103, Jose Rafael Moreno 106, Colin Lee 109, Phil Alderman 109, Craig Asbridge 111, Tim Britton 111, William Rhodes 116, Martin Mackenzie 118, John MacFarlane 118, Matthew Giblin 120, Ken Oates 120, Martin Murphy 121, Dave Lovell 126, Alan Halford 128, Joseph Wills 128, Martin Lillywhite 138, Stephen Armistead 141, Gordon Muir 143, Ronnie Paterson 143, Nicholas Hunt 147, Mark Lucas 153, Kieran Abraham 183.