The South West Classic Trials Association’s annual Dartmoor Two-Day Classic Trial attracted an entry of 125 riders, their maximum limit, in the warm September South Devon sunshine. From the Isle of Wight to Yorkshire and Kent to Cornwall they came to sample the cream of Devon’s Classic weekends.
The Pre-65 and twin-shock entrants faced three laps of twelve sections on the first day of the two venues, through the mainly rocky streams and rock-strewn boulders in the wooded copses below the famous ‘Hound Tor’ at Widecombe-in-the-Moor on the higher reaches of Dartmoor, and two laps of sections on day two at ‘The Grove’ a few miles away under the shadow of the equally famous Ruby Rocks sections on the lower slopes of the moor. Run as a joint venture between the South West Classic Association and the West of England Club this was the 28th running of the event.
Three riders shared the honours on day one in the Star route. Riding the two-stroke route on his 250 Dot was Scott Dommett up from Cornwall, who cleaned the day losing no marks. Riding the twin-shock route was Mick Thompson on his 320 Majesty from North Devon on one mark, followed closely by Martin Gilbert who also took his Fantic round for one mark. Colin Mote was the best of the big singles, piloting his 500 Ariel around for twenty marks just ‘prodding’ here and there amongst the rockery. Title contender Thorne Beckley Pett aboard his 200 Triumph Cub was leading the Unit class from Tim Wooldridge, on seven marks.
On the Past Masters course riding a slightly easier route Keith Wells, who lives in Austria these days, riding a BSA Bantam in the twostroke class was the only clean sheet; he was slightly ahead of local farmer George Atkins on four marks, whilst John Jacka plonked the big AJS over the boulders and rocks for seven marks from John Mantle’s AJS on eight.
There was a large twin-shock class on the easier route and Stuart Keedwell lost just three marks on section ten, a twisting turn in a muddy stream, to head up the class into day two.
There were four ladies riding, including ‘Twin-shock Shops’ John McDonald’s daughter Zoe who was having only her second ride this year because she was concentrating on her teacher training course at uni..Best of the ladies was Mia Wickett from Bude out on a twin-shock this year, replacing the Tiger Cub and upholding the family honour for her father Phil, who was resting after a kidney stone removal.
The rider who got the most attention was Peter Gaunt, out on a Honda 100 twin-shock special in the Past Masters class that burbled away to finish the day on eight marks to head up that class. Peter has only just returned to trials after an eighteen-month layoff due to ill health but he made a special effort to get down to the South West to one of his favourite trials.
At the close of day one many riders either gathered around the ‘barbies’ whilst camping at the start or enjoyed a local pub meal with the organisers while discussing the day’s events.
Day two in the warm sun and the riders faced a different set of sections based a few miles away at the all-natural sections named The Grove, which mainly followed the streams falling down off the moor. Some heavier scores were seen as riders faced slightly bigger rocks and it was necessary to hold the line through and over them in order to accomplish a clean. Some new sections had been cut out in the streams and some were very slippery through non-use. The Star riders were having battles royal, and the tussle between Martin Gilbert and Mick Thompson was resolved when Martin lost two on the slippery entrance to section eighteen and cast a few more dabs to finish on six to Mick’s single dab on the same section. There were only two riders in the Unit class, held on the Star route, and Thorne B Pett showed his class by finishing the weekend on just eleven to Tim Wooldridge’s forty-three marks lost.
The Gentlefolk classes were having their own private battles and in the Pre-Unit and Twin Cylinder class John Mantle 500 AJS kept his cool and turned the tables on ex-submariner John Jacka on his 410 Matchless by one mark, so that they both finished on eleven marks overall. The AJS rider Mantle got the verdict by virtue of the Special Test results. Neil Osman was third, on nineteen marks on the Ariel.
In the Unit class John Roberts from Bristol came out tops by quite a margin from David Gollicker from Weston-s-mare who had found some recent good form.
In the two-stroke class Cornwall’s Chris Anstee on his 175 BSA, who lost six on day one, followed it up with four dabs on day two to take the class from John Chapman. John, who always makes the long journey over from Great Yarmouth, had been in contention but lost three marks on section eighteen to finish runner-up with Nigel Smith, another five marks behind. Many lost marks on section eighteen, which was one of the few muddy sections after the mainly boulder-strewn streams that abound at the venue, but those with mud in their veins took it all in their stride to record cleans.
It was apparent at the finish that complete enjoyment had been experienced by all, judging from the comments and the reluctance to let go of a thoroughly brilliant and enjoyable weekend of sport. To top it off the riders and organisers helped to raise £345 to be split between the ACU Benevolent fund and Hospice care.
Thorne B Pett