Last week’s column was written within an hour of arriving home from the World Trial at Armathwaite, so it inevitably contained initial thoughts and views of the two days, so this week can reflect a full week of contemplation – not that there’s been that much time to think about trials what with having to earn a living!
However, there are two aspects from the British round that got me thinking. As I said last week, Graham Jarvis’s judgement in planning the sections was absolutely spot on. Whilst section ten was only cleaned by Toni Bou (as far as I know), every other section had several cleans and Graham was able to find a winner for the trial by relying on riders making mistakes, rather than having impossible sections that stopped everybody except for the odd one or two that somehow struggled through.
As I’ve always said, trials sections that are rideable make for better viewing than super tough stuff that defeats everybody. I recall writing comments about the 2007 Scottish which was very difficult and saying that from a spectator’s point of view, it was far less entertaining than the 2008 and 2009 trials (despite the weather this year!) which were much more rideable and which provided good entertainment.
It’s the same for the World Round. The fact that every section was possible for the class of rider entered made for good spectating. One was able to watch a rider tackle every part of the section and see and learn from the mistakes they made.
Section 12 was a prime example. I only watched it on lap one of day two, it was the section where the riders left the begins card and leapt through the branches of a tree. Loads of riders did that part of the section with comparative ease, but then Michael Brown went head over the handlebars on landing when his front wheel tucked under the most innocuous tree root you could find.
Then along came Dougie, and low and behold he did the exact same thing, yet many other riders kept the front wheel aloft that bit longer and for them, the root simply didn’t exist. See what I mean, elementary mistakes took the marks rather than an impossible section. Bit like club trials really!
Like most folks who log onto this website, I’ve watched the two videos of Toni Bou smacking the Montesa into a wall of rock and of Fujigas crashing back down the final climb out of section 13. There are two items that caught my eye. Firstly, correct me if I’m wrong, but surely Bou had fived the section before he failed the rock face by riding in the reverse direction of the course. Maybe a technicality but it was a five in my book. Not that it mattered as he failed the easy bit of the rock face where the Juniors had gone due to his throttle problem. I’ve heard the official explanation of what was wrong, but no matter what it was, it obviously gave him some problems at the time but which were successfully overcome.
The second video was the one of Fujigas crashing back down section 13. Though I wasn’t present at the time, I looked over the edge later and having seen the video, he seems to have hit himself on a protruding lump of rock sticking out of the banking. Whilst it caused his retirement from the day, he was brave and tough to get back into Sunday action, much to everybody’s surprise. But it was good to see him and whilst he was obviously in discomfort, his presence was most appreciated by spectators.
Now, I don’t want to be a scaremonger, but it still worries me that one day there is going to be a very nasty accident. In fact there have been several nasty crashes over the years which the riders have to all intents and purposes recovered from. But it still doesn’t alter the fact that a big accident is in the offing.
The risk factor is nowhere near as likely as in road racing, but that doesn’t alter the fact that at World level, trials is definitely a risky business. What can be done? Frankly, nothing as far as I can see except to try and ensure that where crashes are possible then they are at locations where a comparatively soft landing is available.