1978 World Championship
It was all about Bultaco at the top of the FIM World Trials Championship, as three of their riders had been drawn into a titanic fight for the right to wear the coveted crown pronouncing them as the King of Trials in 1978. At the head of the championship was Finland’s two-time world champion in 1976 and 1977 Yrjo Vesterinen, who had managed to edge out a small points advantage over Great Britain’s Martin Lampkin, who was the first winner of the FIM series in 1975. With nine rounds contested of the twelve-round series it was advantage Vesterinen on 98 points playing Lampkin on 91. Both had won two rounds each but for Finland’s trials superstar his third win in Austria at round nine and Lampkin’s poor sixth position had pulled him ahead in the championship, leaving it all to play for in the final three rounds. They were both under pressure from the young American rider Bernie Schreiber. After a very poor start to the series which included a DNF in Belgium he had found the form in his new dynamic riding style to take four wins! He was moving up the championship like a steam roller and closing in on both his fellow Bultaco riders at an incredible rate of knots. He knew the championship title was still a big ask but when you are young anything is possible. The championship was still wide open in the American’s eyes, and he really wanted it.
Words: John Hulme, Motorcycle, Morton’s Archive and Motorcycle News Pictures: Toon van de Vliet, Yoomee Archive, Rappini/Commeat, Eric Kitchen, Malcolm Carling, Honda, CCM, Mauri/Fontsere Collection and the Giulio Mauri Copyright A dive into the trials archives would reveal an interesting championship where it was a case of the ‘Old Guard’ challenged by a new rider and his riding style which would change the direction of the sport forever. In the first two rounds of the series, covered in issue 24 of the magazine, Vesterinen boasted a full house of wins. His two adversaries Lampkin and Schreiber would come back with a clear message: if he wanted to make it three consecutive world titles he would have a fight on his hands to achieve it. Simmering just behind these three was Sweden’s ‘Lone Wolf’ Ulf Karlson, who would show his worth as the championship unfolded. These four riders were head and shoulders above the remaining riders in the championship.
Martin Lampkin (350 Bultaco-GBR): Riding with a new-found confidence after his SSDT win, ‘Mart’ was in a very determined mood to add the 1978 crown to his first one from 1975.