For a long time the history of trials was dominated, starting in the late sixties, by the three main Spanish motorcycle manufacturers - Bultaco, Ossa and Montesa. And it was in this same order that this rider was crowned as Spanish Trials Champions, each title won consecutively for two years with one of the three brands. We are speaking of no other than Antonio Gorgot Lazarus, Toni Gorgot to most of us. Toni was six times Spanish Trials Champion consecutively from 1978 to 1983 and has only been surpassed in the total of number of domestic titles by the magic of a certain Jordi Tarres who achieved nine Spanish titles. Words: Ramon Salles, John Hulme and Josep Auferil Pictures: Josep Auferil, Eric Kitchen, Malcolm Carling, Alan Vines, Colin Bullock and Toon van de Vliet
His career started in the Junior category of trials in 1977 riding an Ossa, before it progressed to the Expert category the following year when he was made an official rider for the Bultaco factory.
After winning the Spanish Championship in his first season, in the later years he would take the honour of being the first Spanish winner of the legendary Scottish Six Days Trial in 1983. He would also become the first Spanish winner of the event riding a Spanish machine, a Montesa. This was not unexpected though as in 1982 he took the runner up position.
Throughout his career he had always shown potential but some believe it could have been so much better, but, as always, lady luck sometimes does not allow it to follow the path you would expect. In 1977, his first year of World Championship competition as a professional rider, he finished in seventh position, in 1979 he was thirteenth, in 1980 was again seventh, eighth in 1981 before scaling the heights further in 1982 for his best placing of fourth before dropping to fifth in his final year of 1983.
Toni began riding trials at the tender age of fourteen on a Montesa Cota 74 in Darnius, Spain, the town where he was born in 1959. It’s a small village situated to the north of the city of Figueres in the mountain region of Ampurdan and near the border with France. A beautiful place surrounded by perfect areas to practice trials. He immediately proved to have a great gift for the sport and he began to compete and like the majority of people in those early years, it was a test of strength and character.
The year was 1976 and in the town of Figueres motorcycle manufacturer Ossa had a dealership that supported local riders. A trials enthusiast from Barcelona named Pedro Alomar knew the dealership owners and had seen Toni competing. His natural ability was evident to see immediately.
Pedro was very good friends with the boss of Ossa, Eduardo Giro, and he loaned Toni a machine through the dealership for the following season to compete in the Junior Championship of Spain. He would achieve the title taking two victories along the way.
In 1978 he obtained special permission from the Spanish Federation to move up to the Expert category. Due to the good fortune of Oriol Puig Bulto, the boss of Bultaco, it meant they had funds to swell the ranks of the Bultaco competition support concentrating on trials machines. They were able to run a works team with a number of riders which included other Spanish riders Manuel Soler, Jaime Puig, Javier Cucurella, Marti Terra and Alfonso Soler.
In this first year in the National Championship, Toni managed to take third place on four occasions and this consistency gave him his first home Championship title. Due to the extra support from Bultaco he could now launch a full assault on the World Championship. He had some excellent results in his first full year which included a sixth position in the muddy Irish event, the Hurst Cup, although his best result was third position in Italy and a fourth in Czechoslovakia, finishing seventh in the final Championship positions. The Czech event was the final round of the year and ended with an unexpected celebration. At the prize giving Toni, Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen and fellow Spanish rider, Jamie Subira, improvised a band by taking advantage of the instruments of a group that had been booked to entertain at the prize ceremony!
1979 would see him again mounted on the Bultaco but in a practice session before the start of the season he injured his collarbone. He tried to ride in the opening round in Belgium but the ground was frozen and he crashed with another competitor on the way to the first section, aggravating the collarbone injury and despite a gallant effort he finished outside the points. This further impeded his efforts at the Swedish round. However he finished third, bettering his result of the previous year.
In Finland he was sixth and finished off the year thirteenth overall at the end of the Championship. However, things did get better and he won the Trial de Reyes in Spain and with further good results he took another National title.
Back to Ossa
With the ongoing problems at the Bultaco factory, he made the decision to move back to Ossa in a team along with fellow Spaniards, Francesco Paya and Albert Juvantey mounted on the famous gaudy looking yellow TR80 model “Gripper” machine.
The machine had seen very little testing by Mick Andrews who had been involved in the development and needed more work for the World Championship competition but bad luck would once again affect the attack on the World Championship. He injured his foot prior to the start of the season but still managed a fourth place at the opening round in Spain. In France he damaged the ligaments in his other foot and in Italy no machine arrived for him to ride. The problems continued all year with his best ride coming in Czechoslovakia where he took third. He would finish a disappointing seventh overall in the Championship at the close of the year.
On the way to another National title he took many wins making it three in a row and along with these results, a win in the famous Cingles Three Day trial, finished the season on a high. They had further developed the Ossa and it was now at its best and he entered 1981 with high hopes of success.
The opening round in Spain gave the competitors a shock as snow greeted them! Gorgot was on form taking a solid fourth position as Manuel Soler became the first Spanish rider to win a World Championship event mounted on a Spanish machine, Montesa.
This was a good omen for the Spanish as Gorgot would also break the mould with a win in the Italian round in Cuorgne to the north of Torino and once again on a Spanish manufactured machine, Ossa, making him the thirteenth rider to take a World round win since the series started back in 1975. Despite these encouraging results he had lost some of his confidence and scored a string of mid position finishes to end the season in eighth overall.
In the National series he had the usual handful of wins but it was once again consistency which was key to the fourth title, equalling the records set by Ignacio Bulto and Manual Soler, could he set a new record in 1982? With the well documented economic problems in the Spanish motorcycle industry, Toni would be forced to leave the Ossa concern when they could only offer him a machine and some expenses and as a professional rider wanting to compete at the highest level he turned to Montesa.
1980: Cingles Three Day Trial with the Ossa team.
1981: WTC action on the Ossa
1981: Spanish Champion on Ossa
1981: SSDT on the Ossa. 7th position and the Best Newcomer Award
The team was very professional and well run and he welcomed this. They would cater for all his needs in organising the World Championship campaign booking hotels and organising mechanics, etc.
With this new enthusiasm his World Championship results improved. He was second in Finland, third in England, Germany and Poland and fourth place in Austria and the USA, which would see him finish the season in fourth place at the year end, his best ever finishing position in the World Championship.
He interrupted his World Championship campaign to take a solid second place behind American, Bernie Schreiber, on the SWM in the prestigious Scottish Six Days Trial. His fifth title win in the domestic series broke the record of wins and many started to question just how many more he could win.
Montesa were very happy with the results and he decided to continue with them in 1983 despite the ongoing economic problems in the factory.
In Spain a new breed of young riders were beginning to shine through, Lluis Gallach, Gabino Renales and Andreu Codina who had progressed from Cycle Trials.
The World Series started well with the Spanish round held in Olot and he gained an excellent second position, repeating this in Belgium and therefore becoming the first ever Spanish rider to lead the Championship. A third in Ireland followed by two fifth positions in England and Germany and a sixth in Sweden were excellent results. Successive injuries in Austria and Italy relegated Toni a position lower than the previous year in the overall standings at the season close. He extended his National titles with another win which would be his last but he backed this up with a win once again in the Cingles Three Day.
His greatest satisfaction though was winning the Scottish Six Days. In those days that was almost more important to the rider and manufacturer than winning the World Championship.
1984 would be his last year as a professional rider and he left Montesa and signed with Jacinto Moriana the boss of JJ Cobas who had already helped to sponsor him in previous seasons.
The talented Antonio Cobas had set himself a goal to manufacture a trials motorcycle, a prototype that broke the traditional moulds by using aluminium and different mechanical solutions, including a revolutionary twin spar chassis purposely designed to minimize the tensions and stress that is transferred from the compression of the suspension.
The machine was an example of the superb engineering innovation that Cobas could apply to the humble trials machine. The engine would be from a Bultaco, although it could also accommodate a Montesa motor.
In the World Series he took a sixth position in Germany and a tenth in Spain. These were his best results on the JJ Cobas as his form slumped in the other events.
The supply of Bultaco spare parts became a problem and so they moved to the Montesa power plant.
Toni became disillusioned with the machine and trials which resulted at the end of that season with a decision to leave the World Championship in the hands of the younger riders and retire from the profession of trials. He finished off this illustrious career with a third place overall in the National series behind the new breed of Spanish riders, Gallach and Codina.
In the early years the journeys to events were carried out with whatever transport you had and using a car and trailer he had many happy times on his travels. When the weather was hot and sunny they would sleep in a tent or the car if it was cold.
He travelled with other Spanish riders and although they were often riders of other manufacturers there was always a great friendship among them. Above all, the times with Jaime Subira in his grey coloured Mercedes Montesa van were the best. The van mirrored very much the home conversions of vans similar to the present day. Toni recalls many of the long journeys made to England stopping at the various importers and riders who always made them very welcome.
He practiced at the homes of riders such as Mick Andrews and Martin Lampkin, who, by that time, already had a young Dougie flying around on his cycle.
His friend Sebastia Ventañol, Max who was a car mechanic from Tarrasa and also great trials fan took Toni under his wing as did Josep Casademunt who became a tutor and almost a father since neither of the other two were eighteen years old and therefore couldn’t drive a car. Max took charge of taking them to train and to the events.
Pitu Casademunt is an area in Rellinas, Spain and they went there regularly to train and Toni recalls a youngster on a simple bicycle while they practised. Little did they know that this youngster would in time become a World Champion, his name was Jordi Tarres.
Toni had moved to live in Tarrasa because he was studying engineering and because they had the ideal environment to train with other riders and furthermore it was near the manufacturers.
Max went with Toni almost everywhere in his first year with Bultaco but for the second year Toni insisted that Max was paid expenses and thus employed him as his private mechanic and minder. In those days a minder was not part of the sport so it can be said that Max was the forerunner of the current minders role in the sport.
During the seasons with Ossa, Max accompanied Toni as a minder and on one of the trips to the Italian round; Max travelled by car and fell ill having to stop in Turin to sleep in a hotel and receive medical attention for stomach cramp. Toni was already at the trial and Max didn’t arrive and didn’t send word to his friend until the following day, the same day of the event. Max arrived in a terrible state and was not able to accompany Toni around the sections. That day Toni won the only World round of his career.
Upon retiring as a professional trials rider, Gorgot returned to Darnius the town of his birth where he started a forestry business. He married his long term girlfriend and they had two daughters and for nine years he didn’t think about motorcycles at all. He celebrated not having to get up early on Sundays to hook up the trailer to go to events.
Toni still maintains his characteristic appearance of tranquillity and carefulness. He enjoys skiing in winter he still runs and rides mountain bikes to keep fit.
But do not think that he has forgotten trials. Although he no longer practices he maintains interested in the sport with a motorcycle business in Figueres and recalls with great nostalgia his years of being involved in the sport.
1979: It’s much colder than Spain here in the 1979 Belgium WTC
1978: Spanish Champion on Bultaco
1979: Spanish Champion on Bultaco
1980: Spanish Champion on Ossa
1982: SSDT on the Montesa. Position 2nd
1982: Spanish Champion on Montesa
1982: WTC action on Montesa
1983: On the way to winning the SSDT on the Montesa
1983: SSDT – The winner takes shelter at lunch
1983: SSDT – Champagne and the sweet taste of success
1983: Spanish Champion on Montesa
1984: Riding the Bultaco powered JJ Cobas in the WTC
1983: WTC action on the Montesa