The build up to the Scottish Pre-65 was much as usual. While scrutineering was happening on the Thursday the start at Kinlochleven was literally under a cloud. The rains came down for a while but at least the snow that had been in the air in 2016 was not putting in an appearance. Machine examination passed by as did signing on with little problem, and for the spectators the appearance of Gary Macdonald on an immaculate BSA Bantam was interesting to say the least – more of which later. No less than seven previous event winners were in the entry list, including six time champion Dave Thorpe riding alongside his son Dan.
At 10.00am on Saturday, the Pipers played Stuart Edgar and Billy Bishop away, with even numbers away on the Mamore Road loop while the odds took to the road section starting at Cnoc a Linnhe with its five hazards.
Section one was a nice opener to the day, the last in the group being the most fearsome, and boy, did it see some marks lost. Even last year’s winner Dan Clark had problems, and it was some time before Rob Bowyer attacked it at high speed on the Triumph Twin and cleaned it in style to rapturous applause. Much later Dan Thorpe took a different approach in his attack and made a superb clean. Not only did Dan clean this section, but he was on his way to a perfect zero score on day one meaning that was the Bob Adamson Trophy won.
Other potential event winners were having a few problems. James Noble had lost a single dab which kept him well in contention though and Gary Macdonald saw four marks go adrift. This would normally mean an event win would be very difficult to achieve from that position. Riding round with Gary was Calum Murphy and he was one mark further back on five. No less than three riders completed the day on a loss of six marks which included James Harland, Paul Heys and Paul Dennis. Seven of Friday’s top ten were riding on the even-number route so they had completed the Upper Mamore stretch to Callert before tackling the road-based stretch.
Over on the other side of the Loch, Lee Granby was in trouble at Coire Sgoilte where his rigid Norton had developed gear box problems requiring some considerable work. Although he had to retire on the day, he was back out on Saturday.
At Camas Na Muic it was the lower section that caused as many problems as the top sub. The last twist and exit are usually innocuous but it stopped quite a few, including Richard Allen, who was fived, as the observer spotted a quick stop. As riders signed off at the end of day one there were fourteen riders on single figure scores, and amongst them were four previous event winners so there was still much to play for.
With the weather picking up and the sun coming out the start area moved over to Kinlochleven School and the Pipers played away the early numbers headed by Barry Burton (91) and Peter Lockwood (92). The odd numbers went over to the reintroduced Loch Eilde Burn whilst the evens had Cnoc a Linnhe to deal with.
With Dan Thorpe on the road loop he lost marks here, and then a couple more on Pipeline which started to put a different complexion on the leader board. Pipeline saw Dave Thorpe roll back a few years with a typical ride which saw him maybe ten seconds slower than many of the others over the two continuous subs, but with only one dab it was a fantastic effort. Last year’s winner Dan Clark had not had such a good Friday but he was back on the case on the second day with his one-dab ride lifting him to a Special First Class award and the Bob Paterson Trophy for the best over 350cc rider. It was close for ‘Clarkey’ however as he took the award by virtue of 56 section cleans, one better than Stuart Rockett with whom he had tied on nine marks lost. James Harland, another Triumph Twin rider, had a loss of just one mark also on day two. This lifted Harland to fourth place in yet another very consistent ride.
James Noble went from one mark lost to six by the end of the trial but he would remain in contention throughout. It is not all about the top few however and SSDT Chairman Mark Whitham was having a battle to see the finish. His Matchless insisted on throwing its chain off the rear sprocket numerous times. It needed a small army of spectators to extract the machine from Camas Na Muic’s top sub, but that enabled Mark to sort it out and make the finish. By comparison all seemed to be going to plan for local ace Gary Macdonald. He looked to be in perfect control through the new hazards at Lower Cameron Hill. He carried on that way for the entire day, cleaning Pipeline with comparative ease as he came home with a clean ride to bring his cumulative score to just four marks lost. That put him in front of Friday’s top two riders Dan Thorpe and James Noble to take a maiden win. In his pre-event interviews he had said he was hoping for a good result even though he felt winning was perhaps going to be tough. He was in a genuine ‘how did that happen?’ mood as he received the Challenge Trophy from James Dabill who was the Guest of Honour at the presentation.