With the rugged Highland mountains of Scotland quite literally outside his front door, Kinlochleven resident Gary MacDonald was only ever going to be a superb trials rider following a lifetime of practice on the type of land that features in the Scottish Six Days Trial. So his success in his first ever Pre-65 Scottish Two Day Trial came as no surprise, considering he has been a potential winner of the main six-day event for a good number of years. It must be pretty good to finish the trial and, instead of being faced with a five-hour journey home following a British Championship round (a series he contested for many years), to be able to ride 100 yards from the finish into your home for a welcome brew!
Gary told Classic Trial Magazine: “It’s been a difficult trial to win as there are so many good riders up here and, unlike the Six Days, there’s probably a dozen riders who could have won. So, to manage it at my first attempt and to be the first ever Scottish winner of the Pre-65 in the 34-year history of the trial makes me a very proud winner. The trial is very welcome to the village, and the residents make a big effort to accommodate everything that is needed, so I am very pleased to have won for both the village and myself.”
While winner MacDonald had no more than a stroll to get to the prize presentation on Saturday evening after the two days of competition, other riders had many hundreds and in a few cases thousands of miles to travel following their enjoyment of the Highland hospitality and the unique location of this event.
One such rider who has long supported the Pre-65 Scottish is Graham De Feu from Jersey who, despite finishing just three places outside the First Class Awards in 46th place, had to set off the minute he had finished and loaded up. He commented: “I’m off down to Cambridgeshire to collect my classic racing motorcycle that has been in the hands of a tuner to get a bit more power out of it”. With only a small number of trials on Jersey through the year the Jersey haulage contractor races the Channel Islands hill climb and sprint series, as well as a few mainland classic race meetings, with his trials outings being a limited opportunity for him to enjoy. However, he is no mean rider on his Ariel. Having finished the opening day of the trial on Friday in 33rd place, he was disappointed on Saturday evening to report that he had suffered two unexpected fives which dropped him down the finishing order. “It happens, as we all know when the front wheel catches a rock or a hole and these big heavy machines don’t float out of such situations like the Cubs and Bantams will”. But like just about all of the 180 strong entry he reflected before his long haul to the south of the country that it’s a fantastic event to be a part of.
Faced with an even longer haul south was the group of Spanish riders, who told our magazine that they had a 2,500-kilometre journey back home and would be driving nonstop to get back in time for work. However, while the highest placed Spaniard was Diego Urreta in 15th place, his compatriots Javier Cruz and Victor Ronda had both suffered early retirements. Cruz is a regular visitor to the UK and a big friend of ‘Trials Guru’ John Moffat for classic events, but he retired his BSA on the first day with engine problems. While Ronda’s Royal Enfield Crusader seized its crank, he set about looking to buy a Triumph Twin from another competitor who could be tempted with some ready cash in Euros!
James Harland (Triumph): The winner at the very wet 2013 event, this year he took the Best 251cc–350cc award.
Ben Butterworth (Triumph): A misunderstanding over his awarded marks was rectified to give him the Best Over 350cc award.
James Noble (Ariel): Winning the event in 2015, having broken his leg the previous year, ‘Bobble’ remains very competitive at this event.
Dan Thorpe (Triumph): Parting with no marks on day one, Dan has the footsteps of his father Dave to follow in who holds the record of six wins.
Stuart Rockett (Triumph): With a Scottish winner for the first time taking the major trophy, Stuart picked up the Best Scottish Rider award.