Peter Fletcher, the former Royal Enfield works trials rider has passed away aged 83 years at his home at Nidd, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire on Friday, 22nd January 2021.
Fletcher who was nicknamed ‘Fearless Fred’ was a motor dealer from Leeds, son of road racer Frank Fletcher from whom he inherited the business.
Peter did his National Service along with BSA factory star, Arthur Lampkin and they remained friends for life.
Fletcher formed OSSA Moto UK in 1970 with partner Alan Kimber to import the OSSA trials and enduro machines from Barcelona, Spain when Mick Andrews was their official factory rider. Fletcher formed the OSSA Moto UK trials team comprising of Andrews, Dave Thorpe and Bill Wilkinson.
No details as to Peter’s funeral arrangements were available at this time.
It is with great sadness that we have to report the sudden passing of former Spanish National Trials Champion, Manuel Soler in the early morning of Wednesday 20th January 2021, aged 63 years.
Born on 9th March 1957, Manuel was the grand-nephew of Bultaco founder, F.X. Bulto, he was the son of Juan Soler Bulto, the nephew of Senor Bulto and played a huge part in the development of the Sherpa trials models.
Manuel started trials riding at an early age on a specially built small scale Bultaco and was nicknamed ‘El Monstruito’ (the Little Monster) by his close friends and family. He became the first Spaniard to win an FIM World Championship round at Espoo, near Helsinki, Finland on a 325cc Bultaco in August 1979. He was Spanish National Champion four times in succession, from 1974 to 1977, taking over the coveted title from his cousin, Ignacio Bulto.
The 1975 Sherpa model 159 is refered to in Spain as the ‘Manuel Soler’ model as much of the bikes development was down to Soler’s input when riding the prototype version in national and then world trials.
Soler was responsible in testing and writing reports for the factory technicians to make improvements and once said that the Bultaco factory at San Adria De Besos was in effect the family garage.
Manuel Soler told Trials Guru in 2013 when on a visit to Scotland: “The Bultaco factory was our garage, all our motorcycles were stored and worked on there by the firm’s mechanics. Even my little bike was there for a long time. When the factory closed, all my bikes and those of my cousin Ignacio were sold by the liquidators. I was a development rider and every day I tested Sherpas, made a written report and made suggestions on how to improve them, it was my job”.
With the demise of the Bultaco company in 1980, Soler moved camps to ride for the rival Montesa manufacturer and latterly the Merlin, under the control of Ignacio Bulto.
More on Manuel Soler in an interview in 2019 by Todotrial
The Auto-Cycle Union have pulled all permits and thus cancelled all their events in England and Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands are unaffected but can only be run with caution.
In a statement issued by their Trials and Enduro Department on social media page on Tuesday 5th January, 2021 they stated the following:
“Coronavirus (Covid-19): PM Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown in England –
Boris Johnson has announced that England is to enter its third national lockdown, which means the government is instructing everyone to “stay at home”. The national lockdown is immediate, as of today 5th January and the Prime Minister also said in a televised address last night, the “weeks ahead will be the hardest yet”.
The announcement comes as government figures on 4th January revealed the UK has reached another record daily high of 58,784 new coronavirus cases, making it the seventh consecutive day in a row where there have been over 50,000 new Covid cases across Britain.
So, for motorcycle sport it is quite simple. Any planned ACU event in the next few weeks in England and Wales is now unfortunately cancelled.
SACU licence holders should follow the instructions issued by the Scottish Government and any information issued by the SACU. For those resident on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, you can continue with ACU activity but follow any instructions issued by your independent administrations. Please adhere to and respect the UK Government advice and stay at home. Continue to support the NHS and follow the instructions issued by the Prime Minister.
There is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the two vaccines which are now being administered in a planned UK Government vaccine programme, the Pfizer vaccine announced a few weeks ago and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which was rolled out today (4th Jan), but for the time being it is very important we do our bit to support the NHS. Do not do anything which may put motorcycle sport in a bad light. Further updates on when ACU activity can re-commence will be issued following further updates from the UK Government.“
A statement was issued on Monday 28th December by the Edinburgh & District Motor Club Chairman, Peter Bremner that the 2021 Scottish Six Days Trial, one of the oldest motorcycle competition events in the world has been cancelled.
This will be the second year in succession that the event has been forced to cancel due to the Covid-19 pandemic and excluding the two world conflicts 1914-18 and 1939-45, the third time that a disease has disrupted the event. The previous disruption was twenty years ago in 2001 caused by the UK ‘Foot & Mouth’ animal contageon.
The statement reads:
“It is with a heavy heart that the Edinburgh and District Motor Club has taken the decision, as a result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, to cancel the 2021 SSDT and the Pre’65 Scottish trials.
We realise that this will be a massive disappointment to many people. However, we are making an early, logical decision to provide fans and everyone else involved in the event as much notice as possible.
Competitors who have entered the events will be contacted shortly after the two organising committees have met to decide on the way forward.”
Trials Guru’s founder, John Moffat commented:
“It is really sad news for all trials enthusiasts that the Edinburgh club have had to take this very difficult decision to cancel the SSDT for the second year in succession. The event brings in around two million pounds to the local community each year and that cannot be replaced.
Being a large event with close to three hundred competitors, I am sure this news will send a massive ripple outwards across the trials world and has dashed the hopes of many riders, young and old who aspire to ride this iconic event. It is a trial that has no parallel in modern times, be that in distance covered and in stature throughout the world.
The cancellation of the SSDT comes just one month after the announcement by the Isle of Man government that the famous TT Races on the Island suffered a similar fate.
This early cancellation policy is taken to ensure a logical decision is achieved given the circumstances and to provide certainty and clarity to riders, spectators, the factories, officials and everyone else involved in the event, which includes local people who run accommodation establishments.
I truly hope that the townspeople of Fort William and those in Lochaber, will welcome the Scottish Six Days back in 2022.”
YES, WE HAVE BEEN BUSY – IT’S TIME FOR A CLASSIC ‘FEET UP’
It is that time again for all the subscribers to Classic Trial Magazine, Issue 35 should be dropping through your letterbox in the UK this week. Inside you will find all your Classic Trials News, Action, Events, Tests and so much more for you Classic – Retro addicted trials enthusiasts.
Classic Competition: 1980 Review
Micro Machine: Montesa Cota 200
Rebuild: Armstrong 320
Finale: Sammy Miller1970 Scott Trial&ACU British Trials Championship
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The newly formed Ayrshire Trials Club promoted its very first trial on Sunday 8th November and, being Remembrance Sunday, it was agreed that all proceeds should go to a worthy cause in memory of those who gave their lives in global conflict.
It was decided to raise funds for the Erskine Hospital for Forces Veterans, a charity that was set up in 1939 to provide support to forces veterans in Scotland, through four care homes and a Veteran’s Village.
The Ayrshire club was formed in August this year and were immediately affiliated to the AMCA and negotiated the use of a cracking new piece of land in Ayrshire at Blackcraig Farm, New Cumnock.
Chairman, Barry Watson said: “I have been involved in trials in Scotland for a number of years now and when the opportunity came along to run an event on Remembrance Sunday, we all thought it best to donate to charity as a mark of respect. We held a minute’s silence at the start and of course complied with all the ongoing Covid regulations and stipulations to ensure a safe and friendly event for all abilities. There were seventy competitors at the trial, it would have been more but around thirty did not travel because on the pandemic restrictions, which is understandable. The fantastic sum of £1,160 was raised and this has now been donated to Erskine who were both delighted and supportive of our enterprise in such difficult times for all charities. We hope to make this an annual event going forward.”
In a press statement released on Thursday 19th November 2020, the organisers of the annual Telford Classic Dirt Bike Show have announced that it will move from its usual date in February to a later date in mid-May.
Made necessary by the global Covid-19 pandemic, it has been done to try and secure the event which could not have taken place so early in the year. The communication reads as follows:
“The UK’s biggest and best classic off road show is getting a new date for one year only, as the scene aims to fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Normally held each February, the Classic Dirt Bike Show in Telford will switch weekends to May 15 and 16 for 2021. Given the continued uncertainty surrounding the path of the pandemic and the immediate future of events with indoor content, organiser Mortons Media believes the best way to ensure that the UK’s biggest and best show off road show can go ahead is to run it later in the year.
The whole events team looks forward to welcoming you to the show in 2021… it’ll just be a little bit warmer than normal!”
In a statement issued on social media today, 17th November 2020, James Dabill has announced his retirement as a professional rider in motorcycle trials.
Dabill has ridden competitively for almost 20 years and has ridden for Beta, Montesa, Vertigo and Gas Gas factories.
He issued the following statement on facebook social media:
Fans, friends and family.
The time has come for me to inform you guys that I will retire from riding the Trial World Championship and at the professional level.
This was a decision that didn’t come easy to make but I made it with a smile on my face as I know it’s the correct time to walk away.
From such a young age I have been able to live my dream of becoming a professional trials rider and that was all thanks to my amazing parents for sacrificing everything to help me on this crazy journey.
When I look back on almost 2 decades of riding in the world championship it fills me with pride to have achieved what I have and to have met and worked with some of the most amazing people in our sport.
There is too many names to mention but I am sure you all know who you are and I want you to know that I will be forever greatful and in your debt.
I am sure I will see everyone in the paddock again soon but for now it’s a fond farewell.
Thank you to everyone and I wish you all the best.
We all at Trials Guru wish James all success in whatever route he chooses to take, following his retirement from top level competition.