Events enter the history books rarely, for certain reasons, and with great celebration. The celebrations of the 40th indoor competition in Barcelona were no different. Times change as do riders and manufacturers, and rules, but this iconic event has remained very much an open window to the world of trials, having given, as it does, total transparency for the public to view the top riders in action for forty years. Many readers associate indoor events with the weekend, as they now take place on Saturday and Sunday with the odd one on a Friday. The first event was on the Thursday evening of the 24th January 1978, and it literally sold out. It took place at the city’s Palais des Sports stadium. Free access was granted to those people who were in possession of a copy of the SoloMoto magazine, who had organised the competition in response to the Spanish motorcycle manufacturers Bultaco, Montesa and Ossa. After the success of motorcycle trials manufacturing in Great Britain had faded the mantle was taken over by the Spaniards, with the ‘Big Three’ dominating sales. Trials was the talk of the city of Barcelona, and the roof was well and truly raised when it produced a home winner at the first event, with Jamie Subira riding a Montesa Cota 348 model taking his win in front of the Trials World Champion from Finland, Yrjo Vesterinen on the Bultaco.
The first event was very much a demonstration of the art of trials but based on this initial popularity it soon became a mainstay event on the international calendar. It would open the door for other countries to stage indoor trials as they had noted the success in Barcelona. Other indoor types of event would start to appear across Europe and America, focussing more as a demonstration of riding and not always as a competition. Fans of motorcycle trials were more than happy to go and see an indoor show instead of trudging across open moorland or fields! Spanish machinery continued to dominate the indoor event, with Schreiber in 1979 and 1980 on the Bultaco, before Toni Gorgot stole the show for Ossa in 1981. The following year the riders watched in amazement a young Belgian rider on a four-stroke Honda. The rider was Eddy Lejeune, who would take three straight wins from 1982–1984.
In these early years, the riders would take a break before the final, and the packed crowd would be entertained by a young Spanish kid, Andreu Codina on the new Montesita cycle trials bike produced by Montesa. In 1985 he restored home pride as he transferred his cycle skills to a motorcycle and took the win on the new Montesa. Watching Codina taking the win that night was Jordi Tarres. From 1986 until 1993 he would win every year, riding first Beta and then Gas Gas. The only interruption was Italian rider on an Italian machine: the late Diego Bosis in 1987 on an Aprilia. Tarres was the king of Spain.
The Palau Sant Jordi Stadium
In 1992, and with continued success, the event moved to the Palau Sant Jordi stadium situated high on the hill overlooking Barcelona. The venue had a much larger floor space and offered the opportunity for more spectators to attend and a better selection of sections for the riders to perform on. With Tarres approaching the end of his successful trials career in moved the new Spanish star Marc Colomer riding a Beta, who would take his first win in 1994. His move to Montesa would bring three more victories, until 1998 when Great Britain’s Dougie Lampkin stole the show with a crowd of just under 15,000 showing their appreciation. Colomer took revenge with another win in 1999.
Lampkin moved to Montesa in 2000, giving the home fans a winner for the next two years, but once again a new Spanish upstart on a Spanish machine was ready to take over: Adam Raga on the Gas Gas. Adam Raga would start to make his mark on the event, riding the new ‘Pro’ model from 2002–2005. The arrival of Toni Bou on the Beta started a winning run of the event in 2006 before the move to the mighty Repsol Honda team continued the success. Apart from another win for Raga in 2008 Bou has remained unbeaten on his way to 10 FIM X-Trial World Championships and ten outdoor titles. In 2017 he made it his eleventh win in Barcelona, much to the delight of a packed stadium of screaming fans, just like at the start of this indoor adventure back in 1978.
Classic Trial Magazine and John Hulme would like to recognise the help from the event promoter RPM in the generation of this article.
Riders young and old were presented with mementoes from the evening, including the father of the late Italian rider Diego Bosis. The 1978 winner Jamie Subira opened up the evening’s celebrations. To show the association between indoor and outdoor a Scottish Piper Band marched into the arena.
A display of winning machines was made available to the public. This is the front cover of Solo Moto showing the 1980 competition. Free access was gained in 1978 by those people who were in possession of a copy of the SoloMoto magazine, who had organised the first competition! It was good to see American Bernie Schreiber at the event. Jordi Tarres won on Beta machinery at the start of his career.
The trial was well publicised in Barcelona, the home of the competition. The original event took place in the city’s Palais des Sports stadium. In 1981 Toni Gorgot would restore Spanish pride with a win for Ossa on the new yellow ‘Gripper’ model.
Assembled here is the school of 1983. From left: Toni Gorgot (Montesa-ESP); Jamie Subira (FanticESP); Joseph Jo (Montesa-ESP); Joan Freixas (Merlin-ESP); Alberto Juavantey (Ossa-ESP); Gilles Burgat(Fantic-FRA); Charles Coutard(JCM-FRA); Bernie Schreiber (SWM-USA); Curt Comer (FanticCAN); Eddy Lejeune (Honda-BEL); Danilio Galeazzi(SWM-ITA)
Water hazards were included as the riders went through upturned refuse skips.