Clas­sic Com­pe­ti­tion

1978 SSDT

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Words: John Hulme and Mor­ton's Archive • Pictures: Andy Gre­gory, The Nick Ni­cholls Col­lec­tion at Mor­ton's Archive, Iain Lawrie and Yoomee Archive

If you ever put the late great Martin Lamp­kin in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion on a motorcycle, you could guar­an­tee you had a fight on your hands if you were chas­ing a vic­tory. Never, ever one to give in, he made his 1978 Scot­tish one very much to be re­mem­bered. Win­ning the 1975 FIM World Cham­pi­onship on the Bul­taco had given him a whole new world of self-belief, and you could tell. The SSDT ad­ven­ture had started in 1967 with the Best New­comer award on the BSA but the elu­sive first vic­tory would have to wait un­til 1976, and then again in 1977 when he de­stroyed the op­po­si­tion. His win­ning score in 1976 had been 37 marks lost, and in 1977, 27 marks lost with Mal­colm Rath­mell next on 57 and Nigel Bir­kett on 60. The event's sever­ity was about to change in 1978 as you are about to find out. Yes, Lamp­kin still won but parted with 99 marks lost!

The 1978 FIM World Cham­pi­onship bat­tle was at its height as Martin Lamp­kin and the reign­ing cham­pion from 1976 and 1977 Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen were treat­ing it like a world heavy­weight box­ing match! Both Ves­ter­i­nen, from Fin­land, and Great Bri­tain's Martin Lamp­kin were Bul­taco fac­tory rid­ers. At the open­ing two rounds in North­ern Ire­land and Great Bri­tain Ves­ter­i­nen had won and taken a small ad­van­tage from his Bri­tish ri­val. Lamp­kin had come fight­ing back with a win in Bel­gium be­fore tak­ing sec­ond place be­hind the Amer­i­can Bernie Schreiber in France. It was now time for a break in the cham­pi­onship, with nei­ther Ves­ter­i­nen nor Schreiber at the Scot­tish; would Lamp­kin have enough in re­serve to take an­other win?

DAY 1 Sec­tions: 34; Mileage: 85; Daily Award: Mick An­drews (Ossa), 5.

Hav­ing won the SSDT from 1970-1972 for Ossa be­fore his move to Yamaha which gave the first wins for a Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer in 1975 and 1975 Mick An­drews would make his at­tempt for vic­tory back on an Ossa in 1978. On a day when he did very lit­tle wrong and was the sole rider to part with no marks on the dif­fi­cult Cal­lart Falls' eight haz­ards 'Mag­i­cal' Mick held a clear lead at the close of the day's ac­tion. In con­trast, the 1976 and 1977 win­ner Martin Lamp­kin was in trou­ble very early in the day. He made a school­boy er­ror on the 4th and 5th haz­ards at Cal­lart Falls when he mis­took the sec­tion begins and ends, and re­alised it too late as he pulled the clutch in to have a five-mark penalty added to the ob­server's score­board. In ex­cel­lent dry tri­als rid­ing weather, it was the ex-Bri­tish Youth Tri­als Cham­pion Chris Sut­ton who was the sur­prise pack­age. He had an ex­cel­lent day on the Beamish Suzuki to fin­ish in front of the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced Rob Ed­wards. Swe­den's Ulf Karlson on the pro­to­type full 350cc Mon­tesa was well on the pace, fol­lowed by Rob Shep­herd and Martin Lamp­kin as the only rid­ers record­ing sub-twenty scores. RESULTS: 1: Mick An­drews 5; 2: Chris Sut­ton 13; 3: Rob Ed­wards 14; 4: Ulf Karlson 16; 5: Rob Shep­herd 17; 6: Martin Lamp­kin 20; 7: Jaime Su­bira 23; 8: John Reynolds 23; 9: John Met­calfe 24; 10: Brian Hig­gins 24.

DAY 2 Sec­tions: 32; Mileage: 107; Daily Award: John Met­calfe (Bul­taco) 12.

A nar­row gully with five haz­ards opened the day's ac­tion on the Tues­day at Kil­moni­vaig. As rid­ers strug­gled up the rocky gully, a huge queue started to emerge as the rid­ers be­gan to have de­lay time added on to their daily cards. Rider af­ter rider had well over 60 min­utes added to their day's run­ning time. The best rider up the five haz­ards was Ulf Karlson as both Mon­day's leader An­drews and Martin Lamp­kin parted with marks. The long run out over the Spean Bridge and to the four haz­ards at Lag­gan Locks was once again car­ried out in dry, al­beit a lit­tle cool, weather. Karlson was an­noyed with him­self af­ter he was awarded a five for rid­ing over a sec­tion marker. It was Lamp­kin's dreaded early start day, and he made the sit­u­a­tion worse as he went the wrong side of a marker at Switch­back. The man on form though was big John 'Mecca' Met­calfe. The tal­ent was shin­ing through, and he was at his very best on the same rocks where Lamp­kin had gone the wrong way at Switch­back. Re­turn­ing in the May sun­shine to Fort Wil­liam An­drews just hung onto the lead as Lamp­kin dropped fur­ther away from it. De­spite it only be­ing day two Mick An­drews had now parted with one more mark than the 1977 win­ner Lamp­kin. RESULTS: 1: Mick An­drews 28; 2: Rob Ed­wards 31; 3: Ulf Karlson 34; 4: John Met­calfe 36; 5: John Reynolds 42; 6: Chris Sut­ton 43; 7: Alan Lamp­kin 44; 8: Mal­colm

Rath­mell 45; 9: Brian Hig­gins 45; 10: Martin Lamp­kin 46.

DAY 3 Sec­tions: 32; Mileage: 92; Daily Award: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco, 13.

It was now Martin Lamp­kin's turn to go to the back of the en­try, and he was on a mis­sion. The rain had ar­rived, mak­ing for dif­fi­cult rid­ing con­di­tions, but Lamp­kin would have none of it. Af­ter the ride to the four haz­ards at Cal­lart Falls and the ride over the top and down past Cal­lart Cot­tage it was then over the Bal­lachul­ish Bridge and up Glen­coe. Ten haz­ards would be taken on the ex­posed hill­side at Achal­lader as the rain lashed down be­fore the lunch stop at the In­vero­nan Hotel. Af­ter lunch, the new river haz­ards at Ba House and Chair­lift would be at­tempted. The huge white un­for­giv­ing boul­ders were just up Lamp­kin's street as he parted with a miserly four to the twenty of Mick An­drews. Rob Ed­wards was very steady all day, and he used all his six-day trial ex­pe­ri­ence to ap­pear as the new leader of the trial. Used for the very first time, both Ba House and Chair­lift had con­tin­ued to push all the rid­ers' scores up. Front and rear wheel punc­tures in the clos­ing stages of the day added a fur­ther eight marks to Ulf Karlson's score as he re­mained in touch with the lead. John Met­calfe had an­other steady day to round off the top five po­si­tions, which were cov­ered by just ten marks. RESULTS: 1: Rob Ed­wards 55; 2: Mick An­drews 56; 3: Martin Lamp­kin 59; 4: Ulf Karlson 64; 5: John Met­calfe 65; 6: John Reynolds 72; 7: Nor­man Shep­herd 76; 8: Alan Lamp­kin 77; 9: Chris Sut­ton 79; 10: Rob Shep­herd 80.

DAY 4 Sec­tions: 33; Mileage: 113; Daily Award: Martin Lamp­kin (Bul­taco), 11.

For Lamp­kin, it was now a case of 'game on', with the 350cc Bul­taco suit­ing his full-on rid­ing style. It was the turn of Rob Ed­wards to take the early day as the rain con­tin­ued on and off for most of the day. He looked very calm and col­lected, and at the close of play, he was only three be­hind Lamp­kin hav­ing not con­ceded a five-mark penalty all day. You can tell when any com­peti­tor is at the top of their game and this was ex­tremely ev­i­dent with Lamp­kin. With his force­ful rid­ing style show­ing the Bul­taco no mercy he rode to clean af­ter clean. His su­perb de­mo­li­tion job at the four haz­ards at Camp drew rap­tur­ous ap­plause from the crowded river banks of the en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers who were wit­ness­ing th`e York­shire­man at his very best. South­ern-based rider Ge­off Chan­dler was also a man on form, on the Bul­taco sup­ported by the Wind­sor Com­peti­tor Shop. The ride around the Moidart Penin­sula is most wel­come to the rid­ers as it's very much a road-based day and Chan­dler had some ex­cel­lent rides along with Lamp­kin mov­ing him into the top ten. He and Lamp­kin were the only clean rides at the fi­nal haz­ard of the day at Rub­haru­adh be­fore the rid­ers boarded the Cor­ran Ferry as they re­turned to Fort Wil­liam. RESULTS: 1: Martin Lamp­kin 70; 2: Rob Ed­wards 73; 3: Mick An­drews 73; 4: Ulf Karlson 79; 5: John Reynolds 90; 6: John Met­calfe 96; 7: Rob Shep­herd 99; 8: Ge­off Chan­dler 108; 9: Nor­man Shep­herd 114; 10: Nigel Bir­kett 115.

DAY 5 Sec­tions: 30; Mileage: 62; Daily Award: Ulf Karls­son (Mon­tesa-SWE), 11.

Now it was time for the kill as Martin Lamp­kin put the ham­mer down in his quest for a third suc­ces­sive High­land vic­tory. On a day when he stretched his lead over his ri­vals into a much more se­cure po­si­tion, he was pushed all the way by the new 'Su­per Swede' Ulf Karlson. The open­ing haz­ards were once again at Cal­lart Falls, and they were in a mark-tak­ing mood. Karlson stopped in the first one as Lamp­kin went clean with a very force­ful attack on the Bul­taco. He was look­ing more con­fi­dent day by day, and it showed. It was Rob Ed­wards' early day, but he was not fazed by it, and he was rid­ing with a con­fi­dent streak show­ing through. The day's route would take the rid­ers up Grey Mare's Ridge be­fore the ride over to Bradileig and down to Spean Bridge. Ten haz­ards on the lower slopes of Ben Ne­vis would soon sort out the men from the boys, with three in the river be­fore a fur­ther seven higher up on the steep rocky hill­side. Karlson was the best, part­ing with five as Lamp­kin lost seven and Ed­wards 11. Many rid­ers con­sid­ered that the haz­ards at Ben Ne­vis had moved away from the tra­di­tion of the more 'open' ones found in the event as the or­gan­is­ers had marked them with not much room for move­ment.

RESULTS: 1: Martin Lamp­kin 82; 2: Rob Ed­wards 97; 3: Ulf Karlson 100; 4: Mick An­drews 101; 5: John Reynolds 114; 6: Rob Shep­herd 119; 7: Jaime Su­bira 129; 8: Nor­man Shep­herd 133; 9: Ge­off Chan­dler 142; 10: John Met­calfe 142.

DAY 6 Sec­tions: 29; Mileage: 76; Daily Award: John Reynolds (SWM), 5.

'It's not over un­til it's over', were Martin Lamp­kin's thoughts as he con­tem­plated joining an ex­clu­sive club of rid­ers who had won three con­sec­u­tive Scot­tish Six Days Tri­als in the event's his­tory: 1947-1949 Hugh Viney (AJS) and 1970-1971 Mick An­drews (Ossa). The fi­nal day was not an easy one, but Lamp­kin had a 15 mark ad­van­tage. Af­ter the ride to Kin­lochleven, it was the haz­ards at Cnoc A Linnhe where he recorded a five, which was added to his score be­fore the ride up the river sec­tions at Alt­nafeadh and then back over the top past the Con­trol Check at Pump House. He now faced the iconic steep rocky climb at Pipe­line and its three con­sec­u­tive sec­tions. The first three rid­ers up John Reynolds, Dave Thorpe and Mike Skin­ner all recorded feet-up climbs, fol­lowed a lit­tle later by Mick An­drews. This haz­ard was chang­ing all the time though as the loose rocks moved about, in­ter­fer­ing with the nat­u­ral path for the rider. It was a hes­i­tant Lamp­kin who started the hill in third gear on the big-en­gined Bul­taco be­fore hastily chang­ing down to sec­ond, and part­ing with a dab be­fore both feet came down on the top part and a three was recorded; was it nerves? The man on form though was Reynolds. Rid­ing at the very front of the en­try he showed that the new SWM was just as good as he was, and his daily score of a mere five marks re­flected this. He started the day in 5th po­si­tion but when he posted the only clean on Cnoc A Linnhe, he leap-frogged both An­drews and Karlson into 3rd po­si­tion. The day be­longed to Lamp­kin, how­ever, who openly ad­mit­ted it had been one of the hard­est weeks ever in the his­tory of the High­land event. RESULTS: 1: Martin Lamp­kin 99; 2: Rob Ed­wards 113; 3: John Reynolds 116; 4: Mick An­drews 118; 5: Ulf Karlson 119; 6: Rob Shep­herd 133; 7: Jaime Su­bira 146; 8: Nor­man Shep­herd 147; 9: John Met­calfe 153; 10: Mal­colm Rath­mell 159.

Ge­off Parken (Fan­tic): An­other rider with a huge tal­ent, Ge­off took this lit­tle 125cc Fan­tic to the Best up-to 150cc ma­chine award.

Steve Thomas (Bul­taco): Cheshire Cen­tre Tri­als Cham­pion Steve ful­filled his am­bi­tion of com­pet­ing in the Scot­tish Six Days Trial.

Deb­bie Evans (Yamaha-USA): She was com­pet­ing with sup­port from the Amer­i­can ‘Cy­cle News’ motorcycle pa­per, Gor­don Far­ley who sup­plied the 175cc Yamaha and BERM who were a UK com­pany im­port­ing Amer­i­can af­ter-mar­ket parts fronted by Bill Em­mi­son. He had...

Colin Bell (SWM): De­spite show­ing so much en­thu­si­asm for the new SWM project Colin Bell re­turned his ma­chine af­ter the event and went back to a Comer­fords sup­ported Bul­taco. Colin was a very tal­ented rider who did not pur­sue a tri­als ca­reer but...

Wal­ter Luft (KTM-AUT): The sharp eye of pho­tog­ra­pher Andy Gre­gory took the only known pub­lic picture to ex­ist of the cylin­der head and bar­rel re­moved from the KTM.

David Hooke (Bul­taco): Feet-up and on full attack mode David takes his Bul­taco up the big step at Alt­nafeadh on Mon­day morn­ing.

Wolf­gang Trum­mer (Puch-AUT): The Aus­trian Puch fac­tory wanted a part of the tri­als mar­ket and pro­duced this tidy look­ing 300cc ‘Yeti’ model. Rid­den to 24th po­si­tion by the young stu­dent it looked at one point like it would be pro­duced un­der li­cence in...

Wal­ter Luft (KTM-AUT): Also in­volved in a new tri­als project was the ex­pe­ri­enced de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer from Aus­tria, Wal­ter Luft. This was one of two KTM tri­als ma­chines in the en­try. The other was rid­den by West Ger­many’s Felix Kranstover.

Brian Hig­gins (Suzuki): With the pro­duc­tion of the new 325cc Beamish Suzuki im­mi­nent, the ma­chine that Hig­gins rode in the event fea­tured a new frame con­fig­u­ra­tion. Look­ing im­mac­u­lately pre­pared, the ru­mour was that it was a pre-pro­duc­tion model be­fore...

John Met­calfe (Bul­taco): Win­ning a Best Rider daily award is no mean feat but that’s what he achieved on the Tues­day.

Mal­colm Rath­mell (Suzuki): It was quite ob­vi­ous all week that he looked less at home on the Beamish Suzuki, hav­ing moved to the An­glo-Ja­panese ma­chine in 1978 from Mon­tesa.

Alan Lamp­kin (Bul­taco): This was a good result from the 1966 win­ner on a BSA. Alan was part of the run­ner-up Bul­taco ‘A’ team with younger brother Martin and Dave Thorpe.

Nigel Bir­kett (Mon­tesa): In the early part of the week Nigel had strug­gled to get the best out of his pro­to­type 350cc Mon­tesa as it was run­ning very strange. On Wed­nes­day evening the prob­lem had been traced to a loose ig­ni­tion sta­tor. The ma­chine had...

John Hem­ing­way (Bul­taco): John is greeted by his two young chil­dren Dan and Ben at the side of the road at the Kil­moni­vaig haz­ards on the Tues­day.

Jaime Su­bira (Mon­tesa-ESP): Along with his fel­low Mon­tesa team rider Karlson, the Span­ish rider was on a full 350cc pro­to­type ver­sion of the Mon­tesa Cota 348 model. He was plagued by the ad­di­tion of a five-mark penalty ev­ery day un­til Thurs­day as the...

Rob Shep­herd (Honda): Rid­ing a brand new 360cc long-stroke Honda that had only ar­rived on the Thurs­day prior to the event’s start on Mon­day was maybe a lit­tle too much to ask. The four-stroke ma­chine looked mag­nif­i­cent in its bright red colour scheme...

Ulf Karlson (Mon­tesa-SWE): ‘Su­per Swede’ was the new nick­name of Ulf Karlson. Al­ways a very strong rider, it was now be­com­ing ob­vi­ous that the for­eign rid­ers were start­ing to be­come gen­uine chal­lengers for a cov­eted SSDT vic­tory.

Nor­man Shep­herd (Bul­taco): Look­ing very much like he might beat his el­der brother Rob at one point dur­ing the week, Nor­man had a very con­sis­tent week’s rid­ing.

Rob Ed­wards (Mon­tesa): One of the first rid­ers to con­grat­u­late Martin Lamp­kin on his win; he knew he had been beaten by a bet­ter rider. Hav­ing fin­ished sec­ond in 1970 it was an­other case of so close but so far for the Mon­tesa man.

John Reynolds (SWM): This was a su­perb result for John. SWM were very new to the tri­als world but his ma­chine never missed a beat all week, and it was a ju­bi­lant Cliff Holden who shook the hands of his young star.

Mick An­drews (Ossa): Start­ing the week look­ing very much a win­ner, the change from his reg­u­lar Yamaha to the Ossa must have af­fected his rid­ing. Never one to com­plain he wel­comed his friend Martin Lamp­kin as the third mem­ber, along with Hugh Viney, to...

Mick An­drews (Ossa): Flat tyres are al­ways an un­wanted prob­lem for rid­ers at the SSDT. Here Mick changes the rear in­ner­tube on his Ossa at the road­side on the Wed­nes­day in the rain.

Terry Brails­ford (Yamaha): Us­ing the re­li­able Yamaha TY 250 on his first ride at the event. Terry is us­ing some good old ‘English’ body lean at the top of Garbh Bhein but has to con­cede a sin­gle dab.

Ralph Bryans (Mon­tesa): Still lov­ing his motorcycle sport the for­mer motorcycle road racer from North­ern Ire­land he was Ire­land's only Grand Prix world cham­pion, win­ning the 50cc ti­tle in 1965.

Ge­orge Gor­nall (Bul­taco): Full of en­thu­si­asm for the sport, Ge­orge was a much-liked tri­als char­ac­ter at the event.

Martin Bu­uron (Mon­tesa-NL): Af­ter crash­ing his ma­chine the fuel tank had split on Martin’s Mon­tesa the pre­vi­ous year and burnt it­self out. He re­turned again in 1978 with a su­perb colour scheme on his fuel tank to re­mind him of his mo­ment of fame when...

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