CRUISING TO VICTORY Captain Lampkin
Any rider who finishes the legendary Scott Time and Observation Trial – whether in or out of the allocated time limit – will have a tale to tell. Every year the conditions can change, and it’s not until Race Day that you can actually start to have an idea of just how hard the day is going to be. Feldom Range, near Marske above Richmond in Yorkshire, is a very exposed piece of land farmed by the Wallis family including secretary of the meeting Ken Wallis. Working in the pouring rain on Friday as he prepared the start ramp for the following day I asked the stupid question: “Will it be wet tomorrow?”. I could see what he was thinking as he dried his hand and shook mine in a very warm, welcoming way, with one of them handshakes that you know has done some hard graft. He replied: “Every Scott Trial is a tough one, and the rain will be about tomorrow, but we are in the hands of a very dedicated team of enthusiasts who will do everything in their power to keep the event running”. I have ridden in some tough Scott Trials, including the one that Dougie Lampkin first won in 1994 and that was a wet one. With rain coming down like a continuous waterfall, 200 riders assembled themselves on Saturday the 13th October to attempt the 76 hazards on the close-on 80-mile single-lap course. The rivers had enough water in them to float a boat, but it was that man ‘Captain’ Dougie Lampkin who would take the Alfred A. Scott Memorial Trophy after a day full of fun and frolics as he piloted his machine to victory once again.
At this year’s Scott, we had six past winners in the entry. The oldest is Philip Alderson who has won four times: 1987/1988/1989/1991 then Dougie Lampkin: 1994/2006/2007/2013/2017; James Dabill: 2010/2014/2016; Jonathan Richardson: 2011 and Ian Austermuhle 2015. In 2017, young Jack Price led the way only to fall at the final hurdle when his machine succumbed to hours of full-throttle abuse. On paper, and now with some Scott Trial experience under his belt, he was going to be the one to watch.
Currently, the best rider from Great Britain in both the World and British Championship, three-times winner, James Dabill, would be at the cutting edge for the win, but what about Lampkin’s chances? In 2017 he had done the double, taking both the Scottish Six Days and Scott wins. Having won the 2018 SSDT could he make it another double-winning year? No longer a regular competitor in trials, he had to do more work than anyone else to get up to the fitness level required for this event and had applied himself to the job in hand by getting as many hours on the machine as possible on the run-up to the event.
The last ‘young’ rider to win this event was Jonathan Richardson in 2011; could one of the new breed of younger riders show his true metal and take a win? With only around 25 per cent of entries being first-time riders there was also plenty of experienced ones chomping at the bit for the win, but could they do it?
At 09.00 it would be a lady rider Katherine Sharp who would lead the 200 riders off at 20-second intervals from the start ramp as local councillor, John Blackie from the Richmondshire District Council, flagged them away for a day to remember.
Wet and windy
For the first time in many years, the early water crossing under the waterfall hazard at Orgate had been left out, and the riders experienced for the first time on the Hurst Moor that it would be a very wet day as they rode through the high water levels in the rivers. The high winds on the moors added to the problems with the sodden going, and soon word started to come back of riders marooned with engines stopped dead full of water. The more experienced riders soon had them back into life, but for many, it was an early retirement from the day’s action.
As it does every few years, the course was run backwards with the first major spectating hazards at ‘Reels Head’. Open and exposed on Fremington Edge high above Reeth, this rock-littered steep hazard had the rain lashing on the grip-less surface. It generally gets harder as the day progresses and an early number can be used to the rider’s advantage. It was the case of the early pacesetter from Barrow, Dan Johnson, as he stayed feet-up to a round of applause from the wet spectators on his ageing ten-year-old Gas Gas at just after 10.00. It was then the turn of the majority of club riders to scramble their way through and who were more than happy with a three-mark penalty before the later numbers, and the faster riders started to arrive. This is an early indication of who is on the pace, and Dec Bullock was holding his own, followed by number 194 Jack Price (JST Gas UK) and Welsh rider Iwan Roberts (TRS UK).
With the riders and machines showing signs of abuse and covered in mud as they tried to proceed to the front, Dougie Lampkin arrived in pursuit of the leaders for a perfectly executed feet-up ride. The action remained thick and fast, as the Scott Trial rule allows any number of riders in a hazard at any one time. The top riders and potential winners have to use their judgement and have to take the gamble of attempting the hazard as soon as it’s displaying a clear passage.
At this early stage, the most notable absentee was James Dabill (Beta). He had filled the Italian machine with water early on, and although he had got it going again, he had dropped some ten minutes off the pace.
The wind had now whipped up the rain as the riders headed out onto the aptly named ‘Booze’ moor for more punishment.
Bridge End carnage
Arriving at the hazards at Bridge End early it was soon evident that the water level was rising as the observer Stuart Blythe noted the arrival time at 10.35 of the first rider, once again Dan Johnson who was still on a mission. The hazard rode very well, and despite looking difficult, many clean rides were recorded.
Now making a name for himself in Super Enduro, Billy Bolt was one of the more notable five-mark penalties despite a very forceful attempt.
Just across the road at Bridge End Two it was carnage. The hazard was made up of a short run up the river and over the huge rocks. What no one realised, until it was too late, was that the water had turned to a Newcastle Brown Ale colour – yes, that famous drink – and you could not see how deep it was! Looking very shallow, rider after rider tested it at their peril only to find it was handlebar deep!
Some good rides were recorded by the likes of the experienced Sam Connor (Beta-UK) from down south, who kept a tight line to the right-hand side for a clean. For many though, it was the end of the road, including last year’s third-placed-finisher James Stones (Acklams Beta). The entry was rapidly reducing as riders struggled to empty their machines of water and decided to call it a day, but for the potential winners there was no choice as they headed off over towards Shaw Gutter with its two hazards and its steep rock-strewn gully, and onto the moors across to Faggergill Mines and down to Whaw Bridge.
The punishment was relentless with water at seat height once again at the two hazards at Whaw Bridge. Ladies’ Trial World Champion, Emma Bristow, succumbed to the deep water as her machine stopped, but showing pure grit and determination the machine was dragged out of the river and nurtured back into life with the help of some enthusiastic spectators.
The long trek over the moors to the rocks at Blackhills, Tank Trap and the long ride up Grand Canyon were taken in before arriving at By Pass. The fuel stop and refreshments for man and machine was most welcome. The three hazards at By Pass witnessed some good strong teamwork from the Clerk of the Course Paul Robinson and his fellow club members. With all the hazards waterlogged they quickly rerouted the first one before plotting out two new ones in rapid succession, high on the hillside away from the deep river. The ultimate test was now in front of the riders as they headed out onto Grouse Moor. No doubt tears and tantrums played a major part of the crossing for many riders before the next fuel stop just above the bridge at Surrender. This hazard has been in the event for many years and is very much a part of the trial’s history.
Are you ready to surrender?
Many were ready to surrender, as the entry continued to fall by the wayside with water induced problems. It was still Dan Johnson leading the way as he arrived at 13.43 for Surrender and its single section climb up the rocky stream.
With machines looking very clean due to the river crossings Price was next at 13.46 followed by Lampkin at 13.49. Hot on his tail was John Sunter (Inch Perfect Montesa) at 13.50 and fellow four-stroke rider Ben Hemingway (Beta-UK) at 13.58. Still in the hunt was the 2012 winner Michael Brown (JST Gas Gas UK) at bang on 14:00. Iwan Roberts was next on the same minute along with Barry Kinley (Gas Gas) from the Isle of Man, Callum Murphy (TRS) from Scotland and then Michael Burton (Beta) from Ireland. At 14.01 young Jack Peace (JST Gas Gas UK) arrived at the hazard looking fresh and ready for the final race home. The fight to be the first back and set standard time was now very intense as both Price and Lampkin eventually reeled in Johnson in the closing stages. Price had a fright with a front wheel puncture on Fremington Edge, but this was all sorted before Lampkin arrived. It was over the road to Underbanks and then the trawl back to pick up the route to return home from the way out in the morning.
The long view down the finishing field Jack Price was the first to be spotted. He crossed the finish line first, some five hours, seven minutes and nine seconds after he started. Next up was Lampkin seven minutes later, but with the corrected time taken into account, Price was the fastest.
As they congratulated one another on the day’s action, they both applauded Dan Johnson across the line as the third-placed man home, still looking fresh. Next was local rider John Sunter followed by Ben Hemingway, Jonathan Richardson and James Dabill who was stuck in third gear, having lost his gear change lever in Rotten Wood’s steep dark gully.
‘Trials Guru’ John Moffatt listened carefully to rider after rider as they finished with very similar stories, which all included engines full of water and punctures — the bind of any Scott rider.
As the weather calmed down after the storm, there was one question left unanswered: who had won? A warm welcome came from the crowd as the 1984 winner, and the first on a Japanese machine (Yamaha), Nigel Birkett was introduced to present the awards.
As is usual at the awards presentation later in the evening the results are read in reverse order. Michael Brown was happy with fifth position for his efforts, and then Jack Peace was announced as fourth, a superb effort for such a younger rider. With James Dabill announced as the third-placed finisher it was silence from the crowd. Jack Price was then announced as the rider setting standard time finishing on a total of 66 marks lost, and a clearly moved Dougie Lampkin was the 2018 Scott Trial winner – he had done the double again! Captain Dougie Lampkin we all applaud you – Well done!
54 The first Southern based rider home was Sam Haslam (JST Gas Gas UK), looking good here at Bridge End 1. Having now retired from mainstream trials competitions, the 2012 Scott winner Michael Brown (JST Gas Gas UK) was charging all day. In fantastic form and obviously up for the challenge, will we have a new challenger in 2019 for the Alfred A. Scott Memorial Trophy in Jack Price (JST Gas Gas UK)? We certainly think so. Using all his experience Ross Danby (TRS UK) takes a dab in the deep water at Whaw Bridge, with this excellent Nige Pearson picture capturing just how tough the day was.
55 This was a well-deserved ride for Guy Kendrew (Beta-UK). Along with many others our thoughts are the same; on a good day he could take a win at the Scott. Taking the accolade of the first four-stroke machine home Ben Hemingway (Beta-UK) as always gave his very best to take him to his 13th Silver Spoon. Using the experience passed on by his sponsor Nigel Birkett, Andy Chilton (BMS Andy Metcalfe Scorpa) aimed for the top ten and he was unlucky to lose out on a three-way tie for 9th and end up 11th, overall collecting his second silver spoon. With strong determination written all over his face Richard Sadler (Acklams Beta) walks on water at Whaw Bridge. No doubt Billy Bolt (Harrogate Van Centre Beta) will be back in 2019 as he pursues the dream of setting standard time. Check out YouTube to see Sam Connor (Beta-UK) as he executes another excellent clean ride a few minutes after this picture was taken at Bridge End 2.
He will be disappointed with his result but the 2011 winner Jonathan Richardson (Beta) still has the years in front of him to challenge for another Scott victory. Next time you see John Sunter (Inch Perfect Montesa) ask him about the banter during the trial between himself and eventual winner Dougie Lampkin. Apparently no one wanted to lead the way! I don’t know why it is but we always seem to catch Jack Stones (Beta) on full throttle. Another rider learning every year is young Tom Minta (BMS Scorpa) who took a Scott Spoon for his efforts. Despite a year spoilt with illness Iwan Roberts (TRS UK) tried hard all day.
Having, according to our records, become the only female winner of a Scott Spoon a few years ago Emma Bristow (Sherco) has nothing to prove. With World and British championship titles by the bucketful she showed just how determined she is after dropping the machine into the raging torrent at Whaw Bridge. Behind on time she clawed her way back up the order to finish in 34th position – Respect! Gwynedd Jones (Beta) went back home to Wales a very happy man with the Best Performance on time and observation for a first-time Scott rider – well done. This was the worst performance for the 2015 winner Ian Austermuhle (Beta-UK) since his first Scott Trial way back in 1997 when he finished 14th on the Scorpa. Talk about a wakeup call for Aaron Holmes (Craigs Motorcycles Montesa) who arrived back from his honeymoon in Bali to finish just ten minutes out of time! Finishing at the bottom of the trials results was no disgrace in a very hard event for Patrick Palmer (Sherco). After enjoying last year’s event James Dabill’s minder, Jiri Svoboda (Beta-UK-CZE), came back for another attempt at the event and finished 56th.
The leader at the front of the event for most of the time was Dan Johnson (Gas Gas) and won the Best Endeavour award for his efforts. As tough as they come, Chloe Richardson (Beta) put another finish under her belt in 77th position. With a record 19 Scott Silver Spoons to his name Graham Tales (Montesa) still comes back for more punishment, year after year. How many? Is the question from John Moffat to Dougie Lampkin and Jack Price.