Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Words: John Hulme, Mo­tor­cy­cle, Mor­ton’s Ar­chive, Mo­tor­cy­cle News • Pic­tures: Rap­pini/Com­meat, Mick Whit­lock, Erik Kitchen, Toon van de Vliet, Mauri/Fontsere Col­lec­tion and the Gi­ulio Mauri Copy­right, The Nick Nicholls Col­lec­tion at Mor­tons Ar­chive, Fam­ily

1978 World Cham­pi­onship

For the Span­ish man­u­fac­turer Bul­taco the thumbs up sym­bol it dis­played on all its mo­tor­cy­cles was un­doubt­edly a win­ning one, as they once again dom­i­nated the FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship. They had won the first Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship in 1968 and again in 1970 with Sammy Miller, fol­lowed by some bleak years with noth­ing to show for their ef­forts. A new breed of young rid­ers was com­ing through the rank­ings though, and in 1973 Martin Lamp­kin made Bul­taco proud once again. The 250cc model had been dra­mat­i­cally im­proved by open­ing the cylin­der bore to 325cc and ap­proved by its rid­ers. The events were chang­ing, and more power was needed, and Bul­taco de­liv­ered in style. Lamp­kin was re­placed at the head of the cham­pi­onship in 1974 by fel­low York­shire­man Mal­colm Rath­mell be­fore the se­ries was re­warded with full world cham­pi­onship sta­tus in 1975. As his­tory recorded, the great York­shire tri­als legend Martin Lamp­kin won the first of­fi­cial FIM Trial World Cham­pi­onship in 1975. In a close con­test, he out­pointed Fin­land’s Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen. In 1976 and 1977 ‘Vesty’ had won the world ti­tle and was chas­ing a first for the sport’s third win in suc­ces­sion. As the se­ries ap­proached its con­clu­sion, with three of the twelve-round se­ries re­main­ing, it was still wide open, with Ves­ter­i­nen hold­ing the ad­van­tage over Lamp­kin. Amer­i­can Bernie Schreiber was breath­ing down both their necks in what would turn out to be a very close se­ries fi­nale.

We­take up the ac­tion and con­clude our re­view of the 1978 se­ries, start­ing at round ten in Swe­den be­fore moving to Fin­land and the Czech Repub­lic.

Round 10: Swe­den, Mol­ndal, 20th Au­gust 1978

Any tri­als rider will al­ways tell about the home ad­van­tage, where it all ap­pears to go your way. It was the case in Swe­den where around a dif­fi­cult 20-mile lap course Ulf Karl­son won on the Mon­tesa, break­ing the stran­gle­hold on the Bul­taco dom­i­nated cham­pi­onship. Sep­a­rated by a sin­gle mark at the close of the day Ves­ter­i­nen con­sid­ered it al­most like a vic­tory as he fought all day for the win with Karl­son, and Martin Lamp­kin slumped to seventh un­do­ing all the hard work he had done to gain an ad­van­tage be­fore Swe­den. His low po­si­tion be­hind Rob Shep­herd meant that they would go to the next round in Fin­land as joint lead­ers of the cham­pi­onship on 103 marks each. Bernie Schreiber still con­sid­ered him­self very much a cham­pi­onship con­tender, com­ing home with some good solid points in third po­si­tion.

An­other dis­ap­pointed rider was Rob Shep­herd. Honda had supplied a new 360cc en­gine for him to use and even though he started well, the four-stroke power plant went off ‘tune’ dur­ing the sec­ond lap, much to his frus­tra­tion. Lower down the or­der SWM were still strug­gling with the Ro­tax en­gined ma­chines.

French rider, Charles Coutard, re­quested frame mod­i­fi­ca­tions. With the ma­chine's over­all di­men­sions low­ered and length­ened, he still strug­gled to make the top ten tak­ing the last cham­pi­onship point.

In an en­try of 36 rid­ers, Martin Lamp­kin and Rob Shep­herd were the only two UK rid­ers in the event.

Round 10

RE­SULTS: 1: Ulf Karl­son (Mon­tesa-SWE) 78; 2: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen (Bul­taco-FIN) 79; 3: Bernie Schreiber (Bul­taco-USA) 102; 4: Jamie Su­bira (Mon­tesa-ESP) 110; 5: Manuel Soler (Bul­taco-ESP) 113; 6: Rob Shep­herd (Honda-GBR) 118; 7: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco-GBR) 126; 8: Timo Ryysy (Bul­taco-FIN) 129; 9: Joe Wall­man (Bul­taco-AUT) 131; 10: Charles Coutard (SWM-FRA) 132.

Top Three World Cham­pi­onship

RE­SULTS: 1: Ves­ter­i­nen 103; 2: Lamp­kin 103; 3: Schreiber 99.

Round 11: Fin­land, Eke­nas, 27th Au­gust 1978

At such a vi­tal time the de­fend­ing cham­pion Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen took a de­ci­sive vic­tory on home ground as, once again, Martin Lamp­kin fin­ished down the or­der in fourth al­low­ing a small gap to open up at the top of the cham­pi­onship.

Be­fore the start, the as­sem­bled 45 rid­ers had been re­quired to fit front and rear lights to meet the Fin­nish reg­u­la­tions.

Two laps of 25 haz­ards were rid­den twice around a 28-mile course with a wide va­ri­ety of ter­rain on of­fer. Af­ter an early five-mark penalty on the sec­ond hazard which the ma­jor­ity of the en­try cleaned things just went from bad to worse for Lamp­kin on his open­ing lap. He im­proved con­sid­er­ably on the sec­ond lap, but the dam­age had been done. With Ulf Karl­son fin­ish­ing sec­ond it was a new face on the podium in the shape of 19-year-old sports stu­dent Timo Ryysy who fin­ished third.

In an ef­fort to give Rob Shep­herd more sup­port, Honda flew out his mechanic Mike Em­ber-Davies with his old 306 ma­chine. The new 360 had blown up in prac­tice, and he was still not happy with his spare 360 ma­chine.

Fin­ish­ing fifth ‘Shep’ ad­mit­ted he was shat­tered at the end of the event due to the long na­ture of the haz­ards.

Bernie Schreiber’s sixth-place meant he would need a mir­a­cle at the fi­nal round to win the cham­pi­onship as it headed to its con­clu­sion in the Czech Repub­lic in late Septem­ber.

Round 11

RE­SULTS: 1: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen (Bul­taco-FIN) 54; 2: Ulf Karl­son (Mon­tesa-SWE) 59; 3: Timo Ryysy (Bul­taco-FIN) 66; 4: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco-GBR) 72; 5: Rob Shep­herd (Honda-GBR) 75; 6: Bernie Schreiber (Bul­taco-USA) 83; 7: Manuel Soler (Bul­taco-ESP) 85; 8: Joe Wall­man (Bul­ta­coAUT) 90; 9: Charles Coutard (SWM-FRA) 96; 10: Jamie Su­bira (Mon­tesa-ESP) 101.

Top Three World Cham­pi­onship

RE­SULTS: 1: Ves­ter­i­nen 118; 2: Lamp­kin 111; 3: Schreiber 104.

Round 12: Czech Repub­lic, Ri­cany 24th Septem­ber 1978

Ar­riv­ing at the fi­nal round, Martin Lamp­kin had one thing on his mind: at­tack. He wanted the world cham­pi­onship ti­tle and would give it his all on his way to a clear vic­tory. With Bernie Schreiber fin­ish­ing sec­ond Lamp­kin’s win was not enough to give him the world ti­tle, and he missed it by the clos­est of mar­gins.

Set­ting a new bench­mark in the sport, Fin­land’s Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen made it three con­sec­u­tive world ti­tles for him­self and Bul­taco; he was de­lighted. Com­ing home in fourth po­si­tion and mak­ing the top four with his Bul­taco was a new young Span­ish star Toni Gor­got. For Ulf Karl­son, it had been an in­con­sis­tent year re­warded with fifth in the trial and fourth in the cham­pi­onship.

Rob Shep­herd rounded off an­other year with Honda in sixth po­si­tion, with Great Bri­tain’s Nigel Bir­kett back in world cham­pi­onship ac­tion for Mon­tesa. He had been away in the sum­mer months in South Africa on a pro­mo­tional tour for the Span­ish brand.

Ru­mours had started to ap­pear of fi­nan­cial prob­lems at Bul­taco, but nev­er­the­less, once again, they had dom­i­nated the cham­pi­onship.

As the cham­pi­onship closed for an­other year one name was miss­ing from the top ten — Great Bri­tain’s Mal­colm Rath­mell. Af­ter leav­ing

Mon­tesa for a year with Beamish Suzuki, his re­sults had not been what was ex­pected, and he with­drew from the world cham­pi­onship. In 1979 he would be back home on a Mon­tesa. Round 12

RE­SULTS: 1: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco-GBR) 44; 2: Bernie Schreiber (Bul­taco-USA) 50; 3: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen (Bul­taco-FIN) 52; 4: Toni Gor­got (Bul­taco-ESP) 64; 5: Ulf Karl­son (Mon­tesa-SWE) 65; 6: Rob Shep­herd (Honda-GBR) 69; 7: Jamie Su­bira (Mon­tesa-ESP) 72; 8: Nigel Bir­kett (Mon­tesa-GBR) 74; 9: Et­tore Bal­dini (Bul­taco-ITA) 84; 10: Timo Ryysy (Bul­taco-FIN) 86.

1978 World Cham­pi­onship Po­si­tions

RE­SULTS: 1: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen (Bul­taco-FIN) 128; 2: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco-GBR) 126; 3: Bernie Schreiber (Bul­ta­coUSA) 116; 4: Ulf Karl­son (Mon­tesa-SWE) 104; 5: Rob Shep­herd (Honda-GBR) 63; 6: Mick An­drews (Yamaha/Ossa-GBR) 44; 7: Toni Gor­got (Bul­taco-ESP) 29; 8: Jean Marie Le­je­une (Mon­tesa-BEL) 25; 9: Jaime Su­bira (Mon­tesa-ESP) 25; 10: Manuel Soler (Bul­taco-ESP) 22; 11: Timo Ryysy (Bul­taco-FIN) 18; 12: Charles Coutard (SWM-FRA) 14; 13: Joe Wall­man (Bul­taco-AUT) 12; 14: Mal­colm Rath­mell (Beamish Suzuki-GBR) 11; 15: Jean Luc Col­son (Mon­tesa-BEL) 10.

1978 Sea­son

WINS: Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen 4; Bernie Schreiber 4; Martin Lamp­kin 3; Ulf Karl­son 1. MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ERS WINS: Bul­taco 11; Mon­tesa 1. MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ERS POINTS SCOR­ERS: Beamish Suzuki; Bul­taco; Honda; KTM; Mon­tesa; Ossa; SWM; Yamaha. RIDER POINTS SCOR­ERS: 25.

Aus­trian mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing dipped its toes into the tri­als world with this pro­to­type ma­chine. Tall Ger­man tri­als rider Felix Krahn­stover scored a sin­gle point on it in his home round.

Tri­als en­thu­si­ast Keith Wells was on hol­i­day in Aus­tria read­ing Clas­sic TrialMag­a­zine when he no­ticed the name Joe Wall­man. Af­ter a lit­tle re­search he found that he lived near the KTM town of Mat­tighofen. Keith called to see him and found he still had his Bul­taco from the 1978 tri­als sea­son!

Fin­land’s Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen won Bul­taco’s three con­sec­u­tive FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship ti­tles from 1976 to 1978. Af­ter re­tir­ing from busi­ness when he sold his com­pany Apico he ap­plied the same com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion he had shown as a rider to ren­o­vat­ing his three world cham­pi­onship ma­chines.

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