South­ern Ex­perts 1968 Vic­tory 1971

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS -

A good strong en­try of 83 of the best solo rid­ers in the South­ern Cen­tre as­sem­bled at Alf­in­g­ton Inn Pub­lic House in the start field near Ot­ter St Mary in Devon­shire in mid-De­cem­ber with a start time of 10.00am. Twenty-three side­car crews joined them on a very cold day, with many com­peti­tors hav­ing to deal with the ‘black ice’ con­di­tions on a haz­ardous jour­ney on the roads to the event’s start area. Sammy Miller was still on the ram­page on the two-stroke Bultaco, hav­ing won yet an­other con­sec­u­tive Bri­tish Solo Tri­als Cham­pi­onship. Now rid­ing the five-speed gear­box model, he loved his home grown ti­tle of the ‘Mud Mas­ter’ and looked for­ward to the chal­lenge of the day’s ac­tion in the hos­tile win­ter weather con­di­tions. He, along with side­car driver Ron Langston, had five South­ern Ex­perts ti­tles un­der their belts and wanted to add to the col­lec­tion. As we will find out not all went to plan for Langston as Miller just kept on win­ning — and do­ing it in style. To de­cide who would be vic­to­ri­ous the solo rid­ers would first have to pass through the 40 ob­served haz­ards, with 33 for the side­cars.

One thing that never af­fected Sammy Miller was the weather, and he ar­rived at the start ready for ac­tion. Well wrapped up in his waxed cot­ton rid­ing kit he was, as al­ways, the 100 per cent pro­fes­sional. He knew his arch ri­val and the rider who would even­tu­ally top­ple him from his record run of Bri­tish cham­pi­onship ti­tles, Gor­don Far­ley, would be on his case all day. Miller was very con­fi­dent he could add the South­ern Ex­perts ti­tle once again to his 1968 vic­to­ries though, which in­cluded the Scot­tish Six Days Trial, Scott Trial and Euro­pean cham­pi­onship ti­tle; he was go­ing to take some beat­ing!

Please Note

All the rid­ers were ad­vised to be aware of ‘Reg­u­la­tion 8’. With the event be­ing run very close to the short­est day of the year the hours of day­light would be at a pre­mium. Reg­u­la­tion 8 states: “Fail­ure to at­tempt an ob­served sec­tion when called upon by a mar­shal will re­sult in a charge, and will re­sult in a five mark penalty be­ing awarded plus what­ever marks are lost in the sec­tion”.

Special Test

Any ties on marks would be de­cided by a Special Test with ‘dead’ en­gines. The rider would start his en­gine by any method with the ma­chine’s front wheel on line A and ride as fast as pos­si­ble to line B. The fastest time be­tween the two points would de­cide the out­come of the tie break.

Groups of Sec­tions

1: Cob­bledicks; 2: Crink Um – Side­car Only; 3: Stair­case; 4: Sal­li­combe; 5: Jun­gle; 6: Rasp­berry Rip­ple; 7: Jim’s Joke – Solo Only 8: Ge­orge’s Goyle – Solo Only; 9: River Rise; 10: Tuck­ers Mud; 11: Lang­wor­thy; 12: The Climb.

A Tough Start

It was straight into a tough open­ing haz­ard at Cob­bledicks, where only ten of the 83 rid­ers passed through it with their feet firmly on the footrests, which in­cluded Miller, Far­ley and Telling along with lo­cal rider Ian Black­more on the Vil­liers pow­ered AJS. By the time the rid­ers got to the steep climb at ‘Stair­case’ Miller was al­ready look­ing on form as both Far­ley and Don Smith (Montesa) tried to keep in touch with him. No one cleaned ‘Stair­case’ and even Miller had to re­sort to part­ing with three well-placed marks to keep for­ward mo­tion.

At ‘Sal­li­combe’ the clean rides were once again very few – six, in fact, in­clud­ing Miller. The haz­ards at ‘Jun­gle’ had the rid­ers im­merse them­selves and their ma­chines in the deep black mud, which re­sulted in many marks be­ing parted with. The haz­ard sur­ren­dered no ‘clean’ rides as feet were put down by ev­ery­one.

The aptly named ‘Rasp­berry Rip­ple’ con­sisted of a very awk­ward steep climb and, us­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence here, Miller parted with a good solid one mark as it was cleaned by Chris Cullen on one of the beau­ti­ful and func­tional look­ing Chee­tah tri­als mod­els. Three more rid­ers cleaned the haz­ard in­clud­ing Char­lie Har­ris on an­other new ma­chine into the UK, the Montesa Cota 247, and Derek Cran­field (Greeves) and Alan Ket­ley (Bultaco). Miller knew that he was slowly but surely open­ing up an ad­van­tage over the other rid­ers, and so was closely ex­am­in­ing every haz­ard so that if he needed to part with marks to avoid the dreaded five mark penalty for a stop he would take a pre­cau­tion­ary ‘dab’. This was the case at the last haz­ard in this group as he took in the solo rid­ers’ haz­ards at Ge­orge’s Goyle, part­ing with four more marks.

The Best for Last

Miller knew he had opened up an un­beat­able ad­van­tage, but he al­ways gave his best in all sit­u­a­tions. Sec­re­tary of the meeting Ralph Ven­ables had watched Miller’s ca­reer from its very be­gin­ning, and was more than in­trigued to watch the change from the four-stroke Ariel at the back end of 1964 to the dawn of a new era with the two-stroke Bultaco in 1965.

The fi­nal group of haz­ards at ‘The Climb’ would be tough. These steep de­mand­ing climbs showed Miller at his very best as the ma­jor­ity of the en­try fived every haz­ard, with the run­ner-up Far­ley the only rider chal­leng­ing Miller through these fi­nal sec­tions. De­spite the cold win­ter weather Miller had once again won the South­ern Ex­perts con­vinc­ingly. He had first won the event in 1960 and now set a new record of six wins in this pres­ti­gious end-of-sea­son event.

The event had not run in 1967 due to the out­break of the Foot and Mouth epi­demic, but nor­mal or­der was re­sumed in 1968 and the event was en­joyed by the ma­jor­ity of the en­try, who all agreed it had been a tough but fair day’s sport. Side­cars Look­ing to join Miller and add a sixth South­ern Ex­perts win was Ron Langston on his Ariel with Doug Cooper in the side­car. This was not to be though, as they never even reached the first group of haz­ards at ‘Cob­bledicks’. The fourstroke Ariel ground to a halt with en­gine trou­ble even be­fore they had at­tempted a haz­ard, much to their mas­sive dis­ap­point­ment. As it turned out a fight for the vic­tory took place be­tween six of the other side­car crews.

The man on form was Chris Spit­tle on the BSA, but the even­tual win­ner did not have an easy day as the first six were cov­ered by only six marks. He es­tab­lished an early lead from which he never looked back as Ray Bradley ap­plied the pres­sure, but it was all in vain. As with the so­los it had been a hard day of ac­tion which saw only 16 side­car fin­ish­ers from the healthy en­try of 23.

Chris Spit­tle (BSA): Af­ter open­ing up an early ad­van­tage he kept his cool, de­spite only six marks cov­er­ing the first six fin­ish­ers, to take his first South­ern Ex­perts vic­tory.

Char­lie Har­ris (Montesa): This is one of the very first pro­duc­tion Montesa Cota tri­als ma­chines in the UK. Har­ris was sup­ported by Mon­tala Mo­tors, the first of­fi­cial UK im­porters for Montesa tri­als ma­chines.

Gor­don Far­ley (Greeves): A con­stant thorn in the side of Sammy Miller, he had no an­swer to his ri­val’s supreme rid­ing.

Derek Ad­sett (Greeves): A very con­sis­tent South­ern rider for the Greeves brand in the fac­tory sup­ported team.

Peter Valen­tine (Bultaco): An­other rider who made a quick move to the all-con­quer­ing Span­ish tri­als ma­chines with Bultaco.

Paul Dunk­ley (Chee­tah): He scored many im­pres­sive re­sults on the new Chee­tah tri­als ma­chines.

Derek Cran­field (Greeves): Look­ing very ‘English’ with his flat-cap, wax cot­ton rid­ing suit and leather boots.

Ian Hay­don (Cot­ton): You can read the story of Ian’s life in tri­als in is­sue 66 of Trial Magazine.

Alan Ket­ley (Bultaco): An­other rider who scored some very good re­sults in the early days of Bultaco.

Ian Black­more (AJS): Many rid­ers still be­lieved in the once great Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cles but AJS would soon dis­ap­pear for­ever.

Alan Black­man (Bultaco): Yes this is the fa­ther of South­ern Cen­tre ‘Ace’ Andy in more mod­ern times, who can usu­ally be found ‘mind­ing’ for Dan Peace.

Lawrence Telling (Montesa): An­other rider who moved to Montesa as the Span­ish Ar­mada ar­rived and started to dom­i­nate the tri­als re­sults.

Den­nis Brown (BSA): He made a strong chal­lenge for vic­tory in the haz­ards at ‘Rasp­berry Rip­ple’.

Ginger Budd (Ariel): The fourstroke power was still the one to have in the side­car classes. The wise pas­sen­ger has a crash hel­met on!

Colin Hare (Ariel): He and his pas­sen­ger look very con­fi­dent.

Roy Bradley (Ariel): He made a late bid for vic­tory, where he found his best form at the haz­ards at ‘Sal­li­combe’, but it was too late.

Bob Colein (Tribsa): Mix a BSA with a Tri­umph and you get the Tribsa!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.