The Minta family is a trials family, one I have seen around for as long as I can remember. Supported by his family their son, Tom, has gone through the youth scene and (and I use this word very loosely) ‘matured’ into a good fun-loving trials rider, one always ready to crack the joke and join the fun. This year he has won three nationals, something he is quite rightly very proud of. Riding the orange Scorpa for Nigel and June Birkett, the UK importers at Birkettmoto Sport, he has set his heights even higher for 2019, where he intends to make his mark in the British Championship.
Tell us about your Scott Trial day
I was happy with my number 190, which put me right at the back. The primary objective of the day was to get back with as few problems as possible, and with myself and the Scorpa in one piece. Due to the high river levels, this was a hard day just keeping going. I was too cautious about drowning my machine in the sections, so I paddled my way through most of them with no confidence in attacking them to get a clean. I had a steady speed all day with no problems until petrol stop six, where I got my first of two punctures. I fixed this quickly, but I still lost a good amount of time. Everything returned to normal, and I upped my pace to make up for lost time. With ‘Rotten Wood’ insight, I knew I was nearly home. A second puncture just after the sections meant I lost more valuable time after the rear tyre almost came off the rim, but I managed to repair the puncture and had a steady ride back to the start field. Overall I was disappointed with my result due to having such a good result last year. On a plus point, the Scorpa never missed a beat all day.
How good is the 2019 Scorpa, why do you like it?
The most significant change on the 2019 Scorpa is the clutch, which is finger-light and easy to use. The power of the machine is a lot smoother, which personally makes it a nicer one to ride with more progressive power and phenomenal grip in the muddiest of conditions.
What’s your nine to five job?
I am a full-time level three mechanic. I have been working for my current employer for four years now. I started as an apprentice and worked my way to being fully qualified. I am going on to do my MOT certificate in December this year. I mostly work on cars and light commercial vehicles, camper vans etc. I work for a local family-run garage and get on well with my boss and my colleagues, it’s always a laugh throughout the day, and I thoroughly enjoy it. My boss does British Championship AutoGrass racing, and so we always try and better each other at our sports. I feel that when I’m working throughout the week, I enjoy riding my machine more because I make the most of my riding time at the weekend. But then only being able to ride at the weekends means I am unable to ride at a top world championship level.
Did you enjoy school?
For me, school was tough as I was not very academic and struggled to pick things up as quickly as my classmates. However, my school put me on a ‘travel to learn’ course which meant I went to a local college every week to work towards my level one mechanic qualification. It meant that I already had qualifications when I left school, which helped massively in securing my apprenticeship and working my way to being fully qualified. I enjoyed Technology the most as I love working with my hands, I thrived at woodwork as it was a very hands-on subject. I also enjoyed PE and represented the school on the football and rugby teams. Unfortunately, I was not able to use Trials or any motorcycle sport as part of my GCSE PE coursework as according to the exam board it is not a recognised sport! It made one of my favourite subjects very difficult.
Rewind the clock to your early days, how did you come across motorcycles?
My grandad was very enthusiastic about me taking part in trials. He was involved in sidecar grass track racing but also followed his cousin, Chris Sutton (sooty), in the trials world. Because of my interest in the sport, my younger brother Sam started to ride too. He developed into a good rider but eventually gave up because he was succeeding as a goalkeeper for a local football team, and is still doing it to this day.
My sister Alice — most of you will probably know her — started on a Yamaha PW50, she was mad and instantly took a liking to the sport. She didn’t have any sense of fear and took a crack at whatever was thrown her way! She is going to be a high-level lady rider, and I think she will be fighting for every championship whether it’s boys or girls!
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way, what was your first motorcycle?
I started on an old Yamaha TY80, I loved it, and I remember it in the house on Christmas day. I couldn’t wait to get it out and take it for a spin. I will never forget I had purple Wolf Sports motocross gear and I thought I looked like a girl in it. I started out doing local trials and improving my skill set. Unfortunately, the TY80 was stolen. I remember my dad telling me he ran after them as they were pushing it across the field! A week later we went to the Bullock’s household, and we bought a Beta rev 50cc from them.
Tell us about your first trial
One of my first trials was a South Shropshire event. Dad and I turned up not knowing what to expect, the only practice I had had was riding around a field. I think my dad spent most of the day picking me and the machine up! I loved it and knew I wanted to participate in as many as I could and improve my riding. I have been a member of South Shropshire MC since I started. They have helped me progress from the conducted route to all the way up to expert. I can’t thank them enough for what Gordon and the team have done for me.
Did you go through the whole youth process in the British Championship?
As a youth rider, I rode from D class all the way to A class. I don’t I think I ever missed one. Unfortunately (in a nice way) I grew up with Dan Peace, and I rode with him in all the classes, and he always beat me. I tried so hard to beat him; I remember beating him at the British Championship round in Scotland on the A class route on day one. It was one of the most memorable rides in my youth years. I also remember going to the Isle of Man and winning the B class round, beating Billy Bolt who is a superstar now. I rode a variety of machines starting on a Beta in D Class. In C class I rode a Clipic, which was quite rare, and I enjoyed riding it as it was something different. But with all the hard work trying to get it to run as well as a Beta we couldn’t get it to where I needed it to be, so I ended up back on a Beta. In B class I rode a Gas Gas and in the last year a Beta for John Lampkin Beta UK. Then in A class, I rode for MRS Sherco. I thank you all very much for the support.
What are your thoughts on the current British Championship?
In 2016, I won the Expert class, so the idea was to move up to the top route. I enjoyed riding the Expert class because it suited my type of riding and I didn’t feel any pressure. Since moving up to the Championship class I don’t have the connection and the enjoyment to ride, and I don’t know what’s missing. It might be due to a lack of confidence and me not enjoying myself at the events. Everyone else at a higher level than me is riding full time, which makes it harder to compete at that level when I am only riding at the weekends. I feel that the Expert class isn’t challenging enough for me. The new Masters class route could work, but there needs to be more people riding it to make it worthwhile. Overall I feel that many top riders don’t enjoy it as much as they might. One of the most common reasons is that the rounds are always in the same venues with the same sections, so this is becoming boring for the older riders who have ridden the same section for the past 20 years where nothing has changed. Hopefully, this will change for next year otherwise I may not be there.
Have you ridden abroad much?
I have ridden the Santigosa in Spain a few times, and in 2014 I rode a world round in France and Belgium in the 125 class. Belgium was my first world championship round, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was different riding over there, but not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I rode well although not my best due to nerves, and I didn’t look at the scoreboard all day as I wasn’t expecting anything, but somehow I ended up finishing second!
The next world round was on home soil at Penrith. The pressure was on, but I rode well all weekend finishing second on both days; the feeling of being on a podium was something special. The next round was in France, at a high-altitude ski resort, and the machine was powerless! With the pressure on to perform, I was leading after the first and second laps, but a five on the last lap cost me the win and the championship — I was gutted!
You seem to ride better at more traditional events, having won three nationals this year, any reason why?
For me the S3 rounds and the national event are the best trials, due to the fact there’s no pressure. It’s good throughout the day enjoying the banter, just like it should be, and the ride around on the off-road tracks and roads make the whole experience enjoyable. These hazards suit my style of riding, and when you enjoy riding your machine, which I do at these events, it reflects on your riding, and it gives you more confidence.
Is the Scottish Six Days Trial high on your list of favourite events?
It’s at the top of my list. I thoroughly enjoy this trial every year, and I am determined to win this event, as I think I am more than capable of doing so. With a bit of good fortune hopefully one day this will happen.
It is such a great week, riding over the hills tracks and roads, and the views are incredible. Towards the end of the week, it gets tough, both physically and mentally. Everyone around you keeps you going as there is such a great atmosphere.
I must say a massive thank you to Martin Murphy at Leven Homes Ltd for helping throughout this event from when I started it last year. If it weren’t for him, this would be a lot tougher for me, and I am hugely appreciative for everything he has done for me. Not just out on my machine but also back at his home, he is incredibly supportive and is willing to help with everything, which is what you need when taking part in this event!
2018 has resulted in three national wins.
In the sun at Scarborough on the Gas Gas in 2012.
Wet through at the 2018 Scott Trial!
Youth trial action at Reeth on the Beta in 2008.
Little sister Alice Minta is following in Tom’s footsteps.
Looking good at the 2017 Scottish Six Days Trial, finishing in sixth position on the Gas Gas.
38 Not sure what to ride, this Montesa 4RT was the first machine of 2016.
The final A class years were ridden on the Sherco.
A strong fourth-place finish, at the 2018 SSDT on the Nigel Birkett Scorpa.
Winning the 2016 Expert Class British Trials Championship on the Gas Gas in 2016 with support from John Shirt Jnr.
It was a Dec Bullock loan machine with the Beta next in 2016.