In­door Tri­als

It’s Thurs­day night, Oc­to­ber 20th, 1977. Solo Moto is work­ing on the magazine, it’s 22:35pm, and the au­tumn air is still warm. The of­fice is full of at­mos­phere, many are work­ing, and the strong smell of smoke is in the air. The in­ter­na­tional tri­als sea­son

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Words: Valenti Fontsere and Yoomee • Pic­tures: Mauri/ Fontsere Col­lec­tion and the Gi­ulio Mauri Copy­right and Solo Moto Magazine

In 1977 Juan Gar­cia Luque sug­gested to Jaime Alguer­suari, both founders of the magazine in 1975, his idea for the cre­ation of the Rider of the Year Solo Moto prizes, fol­low­ing the ini­tia­tive of other Euro­pean mag­a­zines that were al­ready do­ing it. Jaime likes the idea, and at the end of 1976, the awards are pre­sented, in a lo­ca­tion pro­vided for the oc­ca­sion by Coca-Cola.

The en­clo­sure is small, and as a re­sult, Alguer­suari be­gins to think of a new lo­ca­tion, more suit­able and larger. In a mo­ment he thinks why not do it in the Palace of Sports of Barcelona, nor­mally used for Bas­ket­ball? But he also au­to­mat­i­cally thinks he will need some­thing to fill the Palace to the limit. The mind of Alguer­suari lights up, and they de­cide that they can or­gan­ise an in­door trial as a com­ple­ment to the Solo Moto Rider of the Year Awards. It will show­case the ‘dy­namic bal­ance’ of tri­als.

Early In­doors

Time­line: Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 21, 1977. Juan Gar­cia-Luque ar­rives in the news­room and is a bit ab­sorbed in his world. He asks some ques­tions about the in­door, quite puz­zled: “Which rid­ers do you in­vite, who will han­dle the per­mits, who will build the haz­ards, what dates…”. The months of Novem­ber and De­cem­ber will see fren­zied ac­tiv­ity, and lit­tle by lit­tle they are clear­ing any doubts. The date is fi­nally cho­sen as Thurs­day, Jan­uary 24, 1978, in the evening, start­ing at 8pm.

The in­door Solo Moto tri­als will be­come the test of the more pres­ti­gious rid­ers but what many do not know is that the in­door Solo Moto was not the first to ex­ist. Leav­ing aside some ex­hi­bi­tions by the mas­ter, Sammy Miller, such as when he rode over an old Stude­baker car in Char­lottesville, North Carolina, USA with his Honda TL 250, there were a cou­ple of events that were pre­vi­ously con­tested in­doors un­like the Amer­i­can ex­hi­bi­tion. Based in Hol­land Mick An­drews, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Yamaha Europe, or­gan­ised a lo­cal event. The rid­ing stan­dard was mod­est and had it not been for the pres­ence of An­drews it would have gone un­no­ticed.

Mov­ing a lit­tle fur­ther north to Helsinki, dur­ing the sum­mer of 1977 Es­boo Mo­tor Club or­gan­ised an in­door trial and in­vited a few well-known rid­ers in­clud­ing World Cham­pion Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen. Other rid­ers were ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate, but in­juries and other com­mit­ments kept them away from the Fin­nish cap­i­tal. The re­sult was 1: Ves­ter­i­nen 27; 2: Soler 29; 3: Ryssy 30; 4: Erakare 36; 5: Lampkin 40.

There was an open-air ‘in­door’ event in Spain at Mol­let del Valles a mere 30km from Barcelona with typ­i­cal ar­ti­fi­cial ob­sta­cles of the time: logs, tyres, cars, drums, with a vic­tory for Jaime Su­bira ahead of an un­known ju­nior rider by the name of Toni Gor­got. Work­ing in Solo Moto, Juan Gar­cia-Luque made the state­ment: “In gen­eral I think that most rid­ers should be fi­nan­cially re­warded as the in­door tri­als could be very prof­itable”.

Solo Moto In­door

The site is con­firmed to be the Palace of Sports of Barcelona. Jaime Alguer­suari made ex­cel­lent ef­forts with the city coun­cil, and they have given him the sup­port to cre­ate the in­door very much with an open mind.

For the first event, it’s worth not­ing that the rid­ers never re­ceived any start or prize money, some help was given to for­eign rid­ers with ex­penses. Juan starts to con­tact the Span­ish rid­ers through the man­u­fac­tur­ers, who see an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote their mo­tor­cy­cles. For this first event, he does not think about invit­ing any for­eign rid­ers, pre­fer­ring to keep it as a na­tional event with the best rid­ers in­vited. How­ever, the cur­rent World Cham­pion Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen is among the par­tic­i­pants. The rea­son? Bultaco wanted their Span­ish ‘Star’ Manuel Soler, but he was car­ry­ing out his mil­i­tary ser­vice; so Bultaco played their ‘Ace’ card and in­vited Ves­ter­i­nen. In the end, a to­tal of 17 rid­ers would par­tic­i­pate in this first event.

The cre­ation of the trial is a tri­an­gle: Pilots, mo­tor­cy­cles and haz­ards. The first two are easy, and the third is given to Juan Gar­cia-Luque with a theme that the haz­ards should be as nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble. He is an out­spo­ken de­fender of the tra­di­tional Bri­tish trial and, in spite of it go­ing against his prin­ci­ples, de­cides to try it. He will be as­sisted for many years by Pe­dro Pi and Juan Bor­das. Pe­dro Pi does not need any in­tro­duc­tion: the first Span­ish tri­als cham­pion, a Montesa test rider and fa­ther fig­ure of the ‘Cota’. Juan Bor­das is also a Montesa test rider and has a gar­den­ing com­pany, which is ideal for the sup­ply of com­po­nents for the con­struc­tion of the haz­ards. The Moto Club Mol­let will be in charge of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, headed by Josep Isern.

The event is pro­moted at all lev­els, think­ing that it would need good pub­lic­ity to fill the 8,000 seats of the venue. To at­tend the event the spec­ta­tor does not need to pay, sim­ply show the weekly is­sue of Solo Moto.

On Jan­uary 24 the Palace will fill up to the limit. In fact much more, with peo­ple oc­cu­py­ing all the cor­ri­dors and any cor­ner they can find. The re­sponse of the pub­lic is much higher than ex­pected, test­ing the sta­dium fa­cil­i­ties to the limit.

Suc­cess

The trial is a to­tal suc­cess with a fierce fight for vic­tory. The big favourite is Ves­ter­i­nen who leads Su­bira by only two marks in the first round, 12–14 but ‘Subi’ turns it around in the sec­ond round 7–10 by not part­ing with a five mark penalty. The third rider on the podium is Ossa rider Quico Paya. For Su­bira it is a very im­por­tant vic­tory, which he ac­knowl­edged a few years ago: “I have got some­thing that no­body can take away, the rider who won the first In­door Solo Moto. The haz­ards at that in­door were not like the ones of to­day. The el­e­ments that made them — sleep­ers, logs, tyres, etc. were not fixed prop­erly, and dur­ing the event, they came loose, un­til Joan Bor­das and his ‘Bob­cat’ se­cured them, much to the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the crowd”.

The brains of the or­gan­is­ers, Alguer­suari and Gar­cia-Luque, are set in mo­tion the day af­ter the trial to pre­pare for the sec­ond event in 1979, which will ob­vi­ously in­tro­duce some changes. The first change is that the trial will be run on Sunday in or­der to be able to rec­on­cile the broad­cast by Span­ish Tele­vi­sion. The en­trance re­mains free even though the bud­get of the event al­ready amounts to 600,000 pe­se­tas at the time. They also wanted more in­ter­na­tional rid­ers, and here the hand of Juan Gar­cia-Luque is played. He shares many week­ends with the elite rid­ers of tri­als and agrees to bring Bernie Schreiber, Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen, Felix Kranstover and the Amer­i­can Mar­land Wha­ley to the event. This will es­tab­lish what will tra­di­tion­ally be­come a ‘Spain ver­sus the Rest of the World’.

One of the nov­el­ties of the ‘79 trial is the in­stal­la­tion of an im­mense pool of more than 50,000 litres of wa­ter in the Palace to con­tain the wet haz­ards. Con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion in the lay­out of the haz­ards also con­vinces the coun­cil that no dam­age will be done to the sta­dium. Amer­i­can ace Bernie Schreiber dom­i­nates the 1979 event de­spite the strong chal­lenge by an in­spired Manuel Soler. But the re­mark­able thing is not the vic­tory but the way in which he did it. Solo Moto com­mented in the magazine: “Bernie Schreiber is a rev­o­lu­tion and chal­lenges the tra­di­tions of the clas­sic trial as he makes turns in the air with ease, drives the mo­tor­cy­cle on the rear wheel and jumps ev­ery­thing. Those present there sees that this ‘hur­ri­cane’ will change the sport for­ever”.

The win­ner is 1: Schreiber 30; 2: Soler 38; 3: Krahn­stover 44. For the first time an Ital­ian ma­chine, an SWM, ap­pears in the hands of Kiku Paya. Coin­cid­ing with the In­door and the Solo Moto Rider of the Year a lot­tery of mo­tor­cy­cles and equip­ment was held. That year a boy from Santa Ce­cilia de Voltrega was grate­ful for a mo­tor­cy­cle he won. His name: Lluis Gal­lach. Four years later he will be on the podium with his Montesa.

The Ital­ians Ar­rive

With two events al­ready be­hind it, the in­door Solo Moto event has es­tab­lished it­self as an in­dis­pens­able event, and the or­gan­is­ers work to make it even more en­joy­able in 1980. In this event, the par­tic­i­pa­tion is a lux­ury, not only for the level of rid­ers but also at the level of brands. The mo­nop­oly of the Span­ish man­u­fac­tur­ers has nearly ended and two new mod­els de­buted at the Palace with Jaime Su­bira and the Fa­natic 200 and Charles Court­yard with the SWM. The level of for­eign rid­ers is higher, with Amer­i­can Mar­land Wha­ley (Montesa) and French­man Fred Michaud, who makes his de­but next to Toni Gor­got on the yel­low Ossa. Schreiber and the Span­ish rev­o­lu­tion Gor­got have a great fight for vic­tory as the Span­ish rider takes an early lead. Schreiber ap­plies more pres­sure with some su­perb ‘trick’ rid­ing, and de­spite hold­ing the lead into the fi­nal Gor­got parts with two five-mark penal­ties to be de­nied vic­tory, as Su­bira puts the Fan­tic on the podium in third place. The sit­u­a­tion at Bultaco was very crit­i­cal at that time, with con­tin­u­ous strikes and par­tial clos­ings of the fac­tory as Manuel Soler and Bernie Schreiber re­mained the only of­fi­cial works rid­ers. Their Bul­ta­cos were pre­pared in the well-known Taule mo­tor­cy­cle shop on Di­ag­o­nal Av­enue in Barcelona, thanks to the fa­cil­i­ties of­fered by its charis­matic owner Pere Taule.

In 1981 they de­cided to hold the event be­fore the Span­ish World round to en­cour­age more rid­ers to com­pete. This en­cour­ages the young, tal­ented Eddy Le­je­une from Bel­gium on the four-stroke Honda. This would be Schreiber’s first event with the new Ital­jet and also the de­but of Manuel Soler with a Montesa. The first dis­ap­point­ment for the pub­lic is when Schreiber’s chain breaks, dam­ag­ing the Ital­jet in the ninth haz­ard, and he can­not con­tinue. In a bat­tle be­tween Gor­got and Le­je­une the Bel­gian takes the vic­tory by three tenths with Ital­ian Danilo Galeazzi (SWM) com­plet­ing the podium. A boy named An­dreu Co­d­ina de­buted in the Palace per­form­ing a spec­tac­u­lar demon­stra­tion in the in­ter­val with a bi­cy­cle, the newly cre­ated Mon­te­sita de Tri­alsin.

Four years later the Palace would wit­ness him win on a Montesa Cota 330. All is not well with the event be­hind the scenes though. World Cham­pion Ulf Karl­son would not ride as he was ad­verse to in­door com­pe­ti­tions, and the sec­ond Ital­jet of Et­tore Bal­dini breaks in train­ing so he can­not ride. The last re­sort is Xavier Miquel, the sec­ond Fan­tic rider, who is in the Palace as a spec­ta­tor. He is in­vited to ride; he goes in the car to his res­i­dence out­side of Barcelona, gets his ma­chine and rid­ing kit. He ar­rives at the Palace with the com­pe­ti­tion al­ready started but still com­petes, much to the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the crowd.

Three World Cham­pi­ons

In 1982 Ig­na­cio Bulto — cre­ator of the Mer­lin — de­cides to present the new model coin­cid­ing with the ‘In­door Solo Moto’ and its rider Joan Freixas will also com­pete. In ad­di­tion to the new Mer­lin, there is also the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the new Beta tri­als ma­chine for the first time, in the hands of newly signed Pere Olle. The trial is a bat­tle be­tween three world cham­pi­ons: Gilles Bur­gat, Eddy Le­je­une and Bernie Schreiber. In the first round Le­je­une leads Bur­gat by a sin­gle mark, and in the sec­ond Bur­gat makes a splen­did tour part­ing with just four marks. The pub­lic al­ready thinks Bur­gat has won when Le­je­une does the im­pos­si­ble and parts with only three marks to take the win with Schreiber third.

In 1983 the new Span­ish brand Derbi, fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple of Mer­lin in the pre­vi­ous event, de­cides to present and de­but its mo­tor­cy­cle in the In­door with Marcelino Corchs its rider. If this is the pos­i­tive note, the sad note is as­so­ci­ated with Bultaco. For the first time, there is no Sherpa model in the In­door. The trial is an in­tense bat­tle be­tween Eddy Le­je­une and Bernie Schreiber, with Lluis Gal­lach very happy in third. At the end Le­je­une leads by 19 to 21, but ev­ery­thing is played out in the last haz­ard con­sist­ing of the pas­sage be­tween con­tain­ers, as in the pre­vi­ous year. Schreiber goes clean, and Le­je­une has two marks in hand, but then he also jumps the two con­tain­ers, to the sub­se­quent ova­tion from the crowd. Some rid­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers, see­ing the in­creased risk in this type of event, de­cide not to par­tic­i­pate and to re­serve the rid­ers for the World Cham­pi­onship. This was the case of Gor­got (Montesa) and Bur­gat (Fan­tic), but Le­je­une reap­pears af­ter four weeks of in­ac­tiv­ity due to in­jury and Galeazzi has the cast re­moved from his frac­tured leg two days be­fore the In­door.

The suc­cess of the trial be­gins to be­come ev­i­dent, and more man­u­fac­tur­ers ap­peared in 1984; both Me­cate­cno with Sal­vador Gar­cia and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary JJ-Cobas ma­chine with Toni Gor­got and Gabino Re­nales as rid­ers. All the lead­ing rid­ers are in Barcelona led by Le­je­une, Schreiber, Bur­gat and Thierry Michaud. For the first time, a third round is in­tro­duced for the three fi­nal­ists, who will ride each haz­ard to­gether giv­ing, even more, ex­cite­ment to the fi­nal. The win­ner is again Eddy Le­je­une al­though dur­ing the first two laps he had Gal­lach and Schreiber glued to his heels. On the third lap, he lit­er­ally blew them away with the fi­nal scores at 1: Le­je­une 5; 2: Gal­lach 22; 3: Schreiber 28.

Ob­serv­ing

The job of ob­serv­ing is be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult de­spite the good work of the or­gan­is­ers of the out­door world cham­pi­onship at Sant Llorenc. The pres­sure be­gins as you are ob­serv­ing in front of 10,000 spec­ta­tors. Even a small er­ror makes the crowd erupt into shout­ing and whistling.

Spain is look­ing for a new hero, and that comes along in 1985 with the head­line of the front cover of Solo Moto which reads: ‘Co­d­ina Mar­avil­las’. This event is marked by the great vic­tory of An­dreu Co­d­ina rid­ing a Montesa Cota 330. Af­ter sev­eral years of for­eign tri­umphs, An­dreu wins from two French rid­ers, Pas­cal Cou­turier (Beta) and Gilles Bur­gat (Yamaha). This event also marks the de­but of two young fu­tures stars of tri­als Jordi Tar­res (Beta) from Spain and Ital­ian Diego Bo­sis (Montesa).

The Ital­ian of­fen­sive on the tri­als mar­ket con­tin­ues with Aprilia and French rider Philippe Ber­latier and the de­but of Garelli with Bernie Schreiber. Valenti re­calls 1985: “The day be­fore the in­door, An­dreu Co­d­ina was mak­ing the last ad­just­ments to his Cota 330. I knew him from school, and he en­cour­aged me to try the new Montesa. I said no but An­dreu in­sisted, and in the end, I ac­cepted. It re­ally was a toy com­pared to my Montesa Cota 200. En­cour­aged by An­dreu I tried more dif­fi­cult haz­ards un­til even­tu­ally I failed and crashed his pride and joy with the re­sult be­ing bro­ken han­dle­bars, levers, mud­guards, and the fuel tank took a heavy blow, An­dreu went very quiet. ‘Do not worry’ he said ‘to­mor­row morn­ing I will go to the fac­tory and re­pair it’ and he kept laugh­ing about the crash”. The next day An­dreu gets the most im­por­tant vic­tory of his life. Per­haps the Cota 330 had de­cided not to be­tray its rider like the pre­vi­ous day and thus avoid greater dam­ages. “When we meet up we still laugh at this in­ci­dent,” says Valenti.

Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 15, 1986. 8:05pm and Juan Gar­cia-Luque is thought­ful in his of­fice, work­ing on the next edi­tion of the in­door Solo Moto with some worry in his mind. The In­door is less than a month away, and the ar­rival of the mono-shock tri­als ma­chines has pushed the level of rid­ing up to a very high stan­dard. He is quite aware that the event must de­liver to the crowd. 1986 will rep­re­sent the first vic­tory of a mo­tor­cy­cle equipped with a sin­gle rear shock ab­sorber, the Beta TR 32 rid­den by a young Jordi Tar­res. Wel­come to a new era of mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als…

Jaime Su­bira (Montesa-ESP) – “I have got some­thing that no­body can take away: the rider who won the first In­door Solo Moto”. 1978: 1978: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen (Bultaco-FIN) – The hot favourite to win, and world tri­als cham­pion was pushed into sec­ond.

1978: 1978: A very young Toni Gor­got (Bultaco-ESP) Team Pere Pi and Joan Borda’s on the ‘Bob­cat’. 1979: Jaime Alguer­suari ad­dresses the packed sta­dium. 1979: Bernie Schreiber (Bultaco-USA) – The new style of ‘back wheel’ rid­ing came with the Amer­i­can rider who al­ways put on a good show in Barcelona.

1979: Joaquin Abad (Ossa-ESP) – Ossa along with the other Span­ish man­u­fac­tur­ers looked on the event as an ideal shop win­dow for their ma­chines. 1980: The Solo Moto magazine front cover with Manuel Soler in ac­tion on the Bultaco. 1979: Miquel Cir­era (Montesa-ESP) – Miquel is still in­volved in top level tri­als as the man­ager of the Rep­sol Honda team.

Toni Gor­got (Ossa-ESP) – The home crowd was look­ing for a Span­ish win­ner on a Span­ish ma­chine and Gor­got took a fight­ing sec­ond po­si­tion. 1980: Eddy Le­je­une (Honda-BEL) – Af­ter fin­ish­ing as run­ner-up in 1981 Bel­gium’s Eddy Le­je­une gave the four-stroke Honda the first of three wins, from 1982 to 1984, for a Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer. 1980:

Jaime Su­bira (Fan­tic-ESP) – Rid­ing the small en­gined Fan­tic, ‘Subi’ had a spir­ited evening which re­sulted in a visit to the podium in third. 1983:

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the rid­ers: From left: Lluis Gal­lach (Montesa –ESP), Al­berto Ju­van­teny (Ossa-ESP), Gabino Re­nales (Mer­lin-ESP), Marcelino Corchs (Derbi-ESP), An­dreu Co­d­ina (Montesa-ESP), Pe­dro Olle (Beta-ESP) – Jaime Su­bira (Fan­tic-ESP), John Lampkin (Fan­tic-GBR), Danilo Galeazzi (SWM-ITA), Bernie Schreiber (SWM-USA), Eddy Le­je­une (Honda-BEL). 1980:

Al­berto Ju­van­teny (Ossa-ESP) – The crowded loved to see the re­turn of Ossa with the yel­low grip­per model.

1984:

Bernie Schreiber (SWM-USA) – The job of ob­serv­ing was be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult, de­spite the good work of the or­gan­is­ers of the out­door world cham­pi­onship at Sant Llorenc. The pres­sure be­gins as you are ob­serv­ing in front of 10,000 spec­ta­tors. Even a small er­ror and the crowd erupts into shout­ing and whistling. 1984: The front cover of Solo Moto magazine has the great Bernie Schreiber on it. 1984: Spain was look­ing for a new hero, and he came long in 1985 with the head­line of the front cover of Solo Moto which read: ‘Co­d­ina Mar­avil­las’. This event was marked by the great vic­tory of An­dreu Co­d­ina rid­ing a Montesa Cota 330.

In 1979 a boy from Santa Ce­cilia de Voltrega was grate­ful for a mo­tor­cy­cle he won. His name: Lluis Gal­lach. A few years later he will be on the podium with his Montesa. 1985: This event would mark the de­but of the great Ital­ian Diego Bo­sis (Montesa-ITA).

1985: Lluis Gal­lach (Mer­lin-ESP) – This pic­ture shows just how steep the haz­ards were be­com­ing. 1985:

Gilles Bur­gat (Yama­haFRA) – Yamaha had changed the face of tri­als mo­tor­cy­cles for­ever with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Mono-Shock model in 1983. 1985: This was the first year of the soon-to-be­come tri­als leg­end Jordi Tar­res on the Ital­ian Beta. Crowned as the 1st ‘King of Barcelona’ Jordi Tar­res took wins first in 1986 and then from 1988 to 1993.

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