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...