SO, the “third and final homecoming” has finally taken place and along with several thousand others, the hillsides of Hawkstone Park were trudged in brilliant sunshine where we saw Toni Bou claim win number eight of the nine days held so far, a result that has virtually assured him of the World Trials Championship to go with the indoor crown he won so convincingly over the winter.
Regrettably Dougie didn’t make it win number 100, but fifth place (which could so easily have been a podium position if Lady Luck hadn’t deserted him) was the result we’ve come to expect of the seven times world champion. And if you think that is a poor performance, just reflect on the past glories and accept that they couldn’t continue for ever and that we are now witnessing the change of fortunes that comes to all premier sportsmen.
There’s no doubt that the British trials fan is a demonstrative individual; get them in a big crowd with air horns and the opportunity and they’ll shout the rider to success. You can barely hear yourself think when they are urging Dougie up some awesome steps that were so incredibly slippery and whilst Doug may have left Hawkstone disappointed, he must also reflect that he has enjoyed enormous support over the years from fans that have demonstrated so voluably their support for his trialing career.
Dates are never my best subject but remember back to Houghton Towers in 1994 (I think) when Dougie won his first world round. Just a few days prior to the trial there was a press briefing and under the archway of the impressive baronial castle we took pictures of Dougie who was just starting out on his trials career and we reported how he might one day be world champion. As they say there’s been a lot of water pass under the bridge since then and with both Beta and Montesa/Honda, Doug has been a fantastic ambassador for the sport.
Back then Doug was on Dunlop tyres and Stuart Dozey the Dunlop team manager reckoned he would throw himself in the Houghton pond if Doug won. Doug did and if I remember rightly, Stuart was as good as his word.
With no British world trial in the offing for at least a couple of years, this has been the final chance to see Doug perform at a home GP in front of his home fans, for there can be little doubt that if this is not his last year, then surely there can only be one more. What concerns many is that Dougie is taking some tumbles at the moment, and whilst the big crash on section two last Sunday proved apparently painless, there’s no doubt it was another big fall and there comes a time when they happen more frequently than they used to.
So on behalf of the many who don’t have the opportunity to express their thoughts, let us say here and now, thanks Doug for a great career and some fantastic entertainment. We’re not writing you off yet, but, whatever there is still to come, you’ve done your bit.
Doug of course is the rider everybody went to see but we musn’t forget Michael Brown who clinched in the most impressive way the World Junior Championship. How fantastic is that? He did it in the best possible way with an outstanding win and the Scarborough rider was simply in a class of his own.
Some moons ago, in my days with the weekly newspaper, I went to Fremington Edge at Reeth where Browny test rode the little Spanish trials bike that Jake Miller was importing at the time. Even then he obviously had lots of ability, but at that age you simply can’t fortell what is going to happen. It would have been nice to have the foresight to see into the future, but none of us can do that, except perhaps those that have that extra something that drives them on. Browny has that ability and his result last Sunday can only be very satisfying after such a relatively short career to date.
It’s sad of course to know that there will be no world trials for a while, and we are thankful that Jake Miller and Martin Lampkin made the massive investment to bring three consecutive world GPs to Hawkstone. Having said that, many will be glad to see the back of the place for such big trials because it’s hard work walking round there, viewing is very difficult and from a photographer’s point of view, it’s a nightmare.
But of course Hawkstone has all the ingredients for the event, and as has been said here just recently, finding an alternative has proven impossible. So we are thankful for what we have received and we are truly grateful.
Quite where we go now is the big question. If you can’t answer it for world trials, then at least there’s an answer for British Championship events, Brimham Rocks near Pately Bridge on Sunday!