A page dedicated to the greatest event of them all, the Scottish Six Days Trial – Born 1911 and still going strong
Roy Kerr (Montesa 349) storms ‘Pipeline’ in 1980 (Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven)
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James Dabill in the 2012 World Series. This is a brief insight into the life of a professional trials rider. Dabill is a multiple British Trials Champion.
We also follow James Dabill through part of his Scottish Six Days Trial ride in 2012.
Left to right: A 1971 shot of Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron (Fort William, Montesa); Kenny Fleming (Dunblane, Montesa); Rodger Mount (Fort William, Montesa); Alastair Macgillivary (Fort William, Bultaco) at a Perth & District Trial in Scotland.
The only thing missing from the image above which shows four well-known Scottish Trials riders, three of which (Fleming; Mount & Macgillivray) were Scottish Champions is…an Ossa! Did you know that the mid 1970’s was a time when more bespoke trials machines were sold in the UK than any period before or since? The main importers were: Comerfords/Bultaco UK (Bultaco); Jim Sandiford Imports (Montesa & at one time Beta); Ossa Moto UK , then Cliff & Roger Holden and subsequently Quinns Competition M/Cs (Ossa).
H. Martin Lampkin (factory Bultaco 325) on his way to victory in the 1978 Scottish Six Days Trial. Lampkin was the first ever World Trials Champion in 1975 and no doubt helped to boost sales world-wide for the San Adrian de Besos based ‘Bultaco’ concern.
The 1977 publicity photo of the Model 199 (326cc) Bultaco Sherpa T. seen here with home market fibre-glass resin fuel tank which factory rider, Yrjo Vesterinen rated as the most pleasing to the eye tank that the company ever produced.
Bill Wilkinson (Ossa 250) at the 1977 Scottish Six Days Trial. Wilkinson made the move from the British Greeves to Spanish Ossa concern in 1972 when the marque was imported by Peter Fletcher under the Ossa Moto UK importership. (Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland)
The early Ossa trials machines like this one here, named the Pennine, was based on their enduro style machines. The factory supported riders were issued with these models including Dave Thorpe and Mick Andrews. When the 1970 SSDT came round, Andrews weighed-in a much neater prototype (with Barcelona licence plates: B775073) which was the basis for the Mick Andrews Replica of 1971.
The USA Montesa Team in 1973 helped promote the brand in the US. All Americans, except for two, Spaniard Xavier Jordi on the far left and Scotsman Derek Edgar, second from left. Thanks to Martin Belair for the use of this image.
The 1980 version of the M51 305cc Montesa Cota 348. This particular model was fitted with Telesco ‘gas-bag’ rear suspension units as standard OEM fit. A very popular machine in it’s day. More popular than it’s successor the 349 Cota.
Coming soon…The ‘Spanish Armada’ trials story…
The riders you see above are all carrying the riding ‘number 1 plate’ in the annual Scottish Six Days Trial, do you know the significance of this number? Well, in more recent times, but not always, the rider carrying the ‘number 1 plate’ is a Scotsman. However, I did say not always, because in the 1950’s it had been allocated to a small capacity machine’s rider. Since the 1960’s it had occasionally been allocated to a Scotsman, in 1968 it was Norman F. W. Edgar, who went on to become SSDT Clerk of the Course. From the 1972 trial on-wards, it has been continuously allocated to a Scots rider. The rider in 1972 was George Shaw, a Perth & District member. So, when you are next at this annual ‘Sporting Holiday in The Highlands’ – look out for two things, the ‘number 1 plate’ and also a yellow number plate which signifies the event ‘Leader’.
Dateline March 2014…
The annual ‘Sporting Holiday in the Highlands’ better known as the Scottish Six Days Trial begins to take shape once again. The entry ballot has been run, as is customary for this event is over-subscribed and the payment date has now expired and the riding numbers will soon be issued to competitors. Hopefuls on the reserve list will await their news with baited breath!
For competitors who are by now committed 110% to some eight weeks of machine, physical and mental preparation, this has begun in earnest.
The importers have already issued their own instructions and provided their ‘hints and tips’ for machine preparation for this classic amongst trials events. Many take this event very seriously, some look upon it as a challenge for them, just to take part and finish on the Saturday afternoon. Of course there are those in the minority that have their eyes fixed firmly on the ‘win of the year’!
Many of the riders are from overseas and they have to book ferries, flights and make sure they have everything in order for the lengthy journey to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, which will be the nucleus of the trial for the six days in early May.
The Scottish Six Days is nothing short of an annual pilgrimage for trials riders and trials enthusiasts the world over.
Equally important, but very much behind the scenes, the trial organisers have in-gathered all the necessary permissions from land-owners, the Police, councils and those organisations that allow the trial to traverse the ground they manage. Much is done every year to ensure proper land use which nowadays is strictly controlled to ensure that environmental regulations are not breached and the event is not placed in any jeopardy. This is one of the reasons why the event cannot be followed by spectators on motorcycles.
There is still much work to be done of course, right up to 07.30 on Monday 5th May, when the first man is flagged and piped away for the 2014 edition!
Soon we will be focussing on those that have a firm chance of winning this prestigious event.
In the meantime let us look at some Magic Moments of SSDT’s gone by….flash-back 40 years…
Magic Moments…1974 – MICK ANDREWS
An event which has a history going back more than 100 years, the Scottish Six Days Trial has witnessed some very interesting and historical moments, magic moments to so many people in fact, who follow the history of this famous International event.
One rider who has always been associated with the ‘Scottish’ is Mick Andrews.
Mick had started his trials career with the support of his family, when his father Tom traded his Vincent road machine for a trials machine, an AJS when his son was sixteen years old. As they say the rest is history – as Mick would go on to have a very successful off-road motorcycling career which would include the SSDT, not once but five times.
The Adventure Begins
Mick’s first ride in the ‘Highlands’ was as a seventeen year old in 1962, as part of the mighty AJS factory supported team. In 1963 he finished a very creditable runner-up to Arthur Lampkin. His early result was not just a one-off as he finished once again in second position in 1964 to Sammy Miller. The move to the lighter weight two-stroke power machines from the heavy four-strokes was now gathering pace with rapid momentum and along with his great rival Miller who had moved to the Spanish Bultaco, Andrews had moved over to a James for the 1965 event where he finished in third place.
It was third position again in 1966 with Andrews on a private Bultaco. He then took over the role of development rider with the Spanish Ossa concern in 1967, but was forced to retire form the event when the rear sprocket carrier broke. But in 1968, he would claim yet another third place finish. In 1969 he would finish second this time to Bill Wilkinson on the Greeves, but now he felt ready to win the event. With his input, the Ossa was turning into a winning machine and he took a hat trick of wins from 1970 – 1972, but soon he would face a new challenge as he was tempted to another manufacturer.
A New Challenge
Mick Andrews had been looking for a something fresh as he felt he had gone as far as he could with the Ossa. The ‘Big Four’ Japanese manufacturers, Honda; Yamaha; Suzuki and Kawasaki all wanted to develop new trials motorcycles. They all needed a professional rider with the experience to take the lead and Yamaha chose Andrews. He started in earnest with the project in 1973 and made his debut at the ‘Scottish’ on the new 250cc Yamaha taking a very strong second place. The Japanese wanted to win and in early 1974 Yamaha shocked the world of trials when it unveiled its new single shock, fuel-injected 250cc bike for Andrews to ride. The machine was a hit and his early success with the machine included a European championship win and in May he headed to the SSDT with one thing on his mid – to win!
After losing just one mark on Monday, by mid-week he had opened up a five mark advantage over Martin Lampkin. To keep the crowds as bay the ‘Pipeline’ hazard had been roped off, but it held no terrors for Andrews. Veteran reporter Ralph Venables hailed his clean ride of the hill as the best he had ever witnessed! Despite pressure from the other riders, Andrews kept his cool through Thursday and Friday parting with very few marks and made the best performance on Saturday to take the historic win. Andrews made the phone call to Japan to tell them of the achievement, the first ever for a Japanese manufacturer – they were elated. Such was the reliability of the new machine he had only used two sets of tyres and two chains to take victory – Yamaha had arrived on the trials scene!
Results 1974 SSDT
1: Mick Andrews (250 Yamaha) 41; 2: Malcolm Rathmell (250 Bultaco) 51; 3: Thore Evertson (250 Ossa-SWE) 55; 4: Martin Lampkin (325 Bultaco) 65; 5: Alan Lampkin (325 Bultaco) 68; 6: Rob Shepherd (250 Montesa) 70; 7: Dave Thorpe (250 Ossa) 72; 8: Clive Smith (250 Montesa) 78; 9: Rob Edwards (310 Montesa) 83; 10: Mick Wilkinson (250 Ossa) 85.
Information supplied by Trials Media on behalf of the Scottish Six Days Trial (2014)
Film made by the BBC in 1974 of the Scott Trial, North Yorkshire, England UK…commentary by Murray Walker…won by Rob Edwards (Montesa Cota 247)…The toughest of all one-day motorcycle trials…. Organised annually by the Richmond Motor Club (Yorkshire) Ltd. (24 mins : 13 secs)
The 1987 Honda (HRC) RTL250S (actual capacity 270cc) of Eddy Lejeune (Belgium) seen in the paddock at the 1987 Scottish Six Days Trial in Fort William. The machine was maintained by mechanic and enduro competitor, Derrick Edmondston. The machine differed in many respects from the production version having a much more voluminous exhaust and single spar downtube frame and was also fitted with an oil-cooler. Lejeune came home in 3rd position on this machine losing 82 marks. The machine was registered in the UK by Honda Britain. Photo copyright: Donald Young, Stonehaven, Scotland UK.