1987 World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship

This Retro looks back at the open­ing rounds of the 1987 FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship which pre­sented its own changes and chal­lenges, as does the new for­mat for the 2017 se­ries. In Spain it was the time limit which caused the rid­ers prob­lems but in Bel­giu


Times were chang­ing the FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship, as ma­chine de­vel­op­ment started to rise to another level aided by the de­vel­op­ment of the tube­less tyres. The air-cooled era was com­ing to a close as a new breed of cot­tage in­dus­try ma­chines, from Spain in par­tic­u­lar, started to break into the re­sults. Liq­uid-cooled ma­chines were just around the corner.


The ma­chines from the new breed of man­u­fac­turer and in par­tic­u­lar Me­cate­cno and Gas Gas made the head­lines, but nowhere near as much as the ex­clu­sion of some of the world’s best rid­ers who ex­ceeded the time limit in round one of the 1987 se­ries. Tak­ing an ob­vi­ous amount of time to com­plete their open­ing lap it soon be­came clear that the to­tal time limit for the trial was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to ad­here to. The rid­ers, in­clud­ing Great Bri­tain’s run­ner up in 1986 Steve Saun­ders who was mak­ing his maiden WTC voy­age on the Fan­tic and his pre­vi­ous year’s team-mate on the Roth­mans Honda Eddy Le­je­une, along with Jordi Tar­res on the Beta and other rid­ers were ex­cluded at the close of play, hav­ing re­alised their mis­takes too late. For Spain’s Lluis Gal­lach on the Me­cate­cno it would turn into a very emo­tional event, as he made the trial his own with a clear vic­tory in front of a very pa­tri­otic crowd, fol­lowed home by the 1986 world cham­pion Thierry Michaud from France.

The new tube­less X1 tyres from Miche­lin were the ones to have fit­ted, with the big­gest prob­lem be­ing to keep the air from es­cap­ing through the spoke nip­ples. The Me­cate­cno and Mer­lin ma­chines from Spain had the an­swer with the Com­star: three solid spoke-type wheels fit­ted. To erad­i­cate this prob­lem Fan­tic had a stan­dard rim fit­ted with a re­cess for the seal­ing rub­ber band as Beta opted for the stan­dard type rim but with a cen­tral flange fit­ted. One rider was about to change the face of tri­als for­ever; that man would be Spain’s Jordi Tar­res.


Known as the home of tri­als for the Bel­gian World Tri­als Cham­pion from 1982–1984, for Eddy Le­je­une on the four-stroke Honda 1987 would be a year for change. Eddy had won his home round since 1980 on the twin-shock RTL 360 be­fore mov­ing to the sin­gle-shock RTL in 1985. As was the norm, with three laps of eigh­teen sec­tions to ride the ma­jor­ity of the rid­ers hung around wait­ing for them to ride bet­ter. With sub-zero tem­per­a­tures all that was go­ing to hap­pen was that they were go­ing to get worse!

Rid­ing the new Fan­tic 303 Great Bri­tain’s Steve Saun­ders suf­fered a mas­sive crash on the fa­mous Bil­stain step, to­talling the new ma­chine. The fact he re­cov­ered to even­tu­ally fin­ish fifth was a credit to him as he rode a very sec­ond­hand ma­chine for the rest of the trial, de­spite the best ef­forts of the Fan­tic pit crew.

Another rider to suf­fer in the icy con­di­tions was young Aprilia fac­tory rider Diego Bo­sis who took a very hard fall on the fa­mous step, but he avoided any ma­chine dam­age. With very sore ribs he strug­gled on to take an im­pres­sive run­ner-up po­si­tion.

Even­tual win­ner Gabino Re­nales rode very much us­ing his young head, and was an early fin­isher as he knew the haz­ards would get worse. This was the first ever win for the new Span­ish man­u­fac­turer Gas Gas in the FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship.

At the end of the year the sport of tri­als would have both a new world cham­pion in Jordi Tar­res, and a new man­u­fac­turer tak­ing the first of many world ti­tles: Beta from Italy. The tide was chang­ing in the world of tri­als.

Span­ish world round win­ner Lluis Gal­lach (Me­cate­cno-ESP)

Spain: Rid­ers seen here in­clude Jordi Tar­res, Eddy Le­je­une and Diego Bo­sis who were all ex­cluded. Spain: One of a new breed of young rid­ers, Diego Bo­sis from Italy was looked on as a fu­ture world cham­pion rid­ing for April­lia; he was also ex­cluded for ex­ceed­ing the time al­lowance. Spain: Steve Saun­ders, seen here in deep con­cen­tra­tion, is watched by Eddy Le­je­une who were both ex­cluded. They had been team-mates at Roth­mans Honda, where Saun­ders had fin­ished se­cond and Le­je­une third in the 1986 WTC be­fore Saun­ders moved to Fan­tic in 1987. The Fan­tic seen here is the new 303 model. Spain: Hav­ing a steady, quiet ride into third po­si­tion was Gabino Re­nales on the Gas Gas.

Spain: The head­quar­ters for the trial were in the school build­ings near the start area. The club was quite adamant that it was to­tally the rid­ers’ fault for ex­ceed­ing the time al­lowance by hang­ing around too much on the open­ing lap. Miche­lin were very in­volved with the tyre de­vel­op­ment in the world se­ries. Miche­lin tyre tech­ni­cians are seen here check­ing the ground tem­per­a­ture. Bel­gium: Gabino Re­nales (Gas Gas-ESP) gave the new Span­ish tri­als man­u­fac­turer its first world round win. Bel­gium: Diego Bo­sis (Aprilia-ITA) proved his po­ten­tial for world cham­pi­onship suc­cess with an ex­cel­lent se­cond po­si­tion. Jordi Tar­res (Beta-ESP): Hav­ing fin­ished fourth in the world cham­pi­onship the pre­vi­ous year the young Span­ish rider would take his first world ti­tle in 1987.

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