Too Many Nationals?

THE ACU’s list of national dates arrived through the Rapley letterbox this week and following a quick count I see that there are 96 national trials scheduled for 2009, and I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or not.

You see, I’ve been around this sport for more years than I care to remember and in my youth I’m pretty sure there were not so many national trials. Whilst I have no idea how many there were exactly, I know for a fact there were not 96! And the reason I can hazard a pretty good guess there were not that many is because the total has increased by twelve over the past three years.

Back in my early days of trials riding there were the trade supported nationals – and for those who don’t understand the term, it meant that representatives of trade products like Champion spark plugs, Renold chain, Dunlop and Avon tyres, Lucas ignitions, Doherty controls and Amal carburettors amongst others attended these events to supply their supported riders with all the parts they required whilst advising and sometimes selling components to Joe Public like myself. And the Trade Supported nationals predominately formed the basis of the British Trials Championship.

Then there were the non-trade supported nationals, if you like secondary events that aspired to join the elite, for being an organiser of a Trade Supported national held much prestige. But times changed and the last time I can actually remember seeing a representative of a British trade product being at a trial was at the second Scottish I rode, which I think was 1979. I know that I was able to buy Renold chain at a bargain price from the gent who had a Renold van in the West End car park!

So is it necessary to have so many national trials these days? Well, it’s a question I prefer you to answer though I shall put valid points both for and against. Those for include the need these days for so many championship classes. Just glancing through the list tells me that there is a championship for Sidecars, Trail bikes, Youth A,B,C and D, the Novogar, the main British Championship of course, Traditional, Womens and Girls and Sammy Miller Products.

And it’s pretty clear that it would not be possible to include all these series in the one group of events, so yes, there is a need for such a large number of nationals.

Then there is of course a good number of nationals that stand on their own two feet, with no need for a championship round to help them survive. Trials like the Scott, Manx and Lakes Two Days, Lyn Traders, Jack Wood, Vic Brittain, Colonial, White Rose and numerous others.

Points against so many nationals are hard to find, perhaps the only one being that having 96 nationals on the calendar could result in a smaller entry than might otherwise be expected, but as so many of the nationals are for a specific group of riders, perhaps it’s not such a valid point after all!

As I said in my column last week, the rumour mill has it that there will be some significant signings in the next few weeks, and one of them was James Dabill to Gas Gas, which I see from the front page of this website has just taken place.

Whilst I only managed to visit one round of the championship this year, I reckoned that Dibs missing from the series was a significant loss, so to see him back in the UK full time is certainly good news for the sport in this country.

He has proven that he is really a first rate campaigner, and whilst he seems to have won the Italian Championship with some ease, winning in Britain is more of a challenge I consider. So to see him, Browny, Dougie (?) and Grimbo (?) jostling for position next year should be mega interesting. Don’t know for sure about Doug and Graham, but it would be great to see ALL the very best UK trials riders in action together.