The tenth running of the Laurie Bird Memorial Trial was staged at Butley, Suffolk, and was the final round of the 2016 Eastern Centre Pre-70 Championship. The challenge for the 82 starters was to complete four laps of 12 sections, with three routes available to challenge riders of all abilities and experience. The unseasonably dry weather in the past days and weeks, and with the rain forecast for the Christmas period not materialising, meant that this would not be the most challenging of trials.
The first group of four sections, which were set out on clay based shallow banks and ditches, without the rain offered plenty of grip, and were a relatively easy start to the day. However the tight twisting turns of this group would take marks off all but a handful of the competitors. Sections 5 and 6 were set out amongst and over an area of fallen trees, they took few marks all day, again due to the dry conditions and copious amounts of grip being available. The final six sections included some big climbs and drops on a sandy bank, what few marks they took were mainly on the loose cross camber traverses, the first part of section 12 being the most costly for many riders.
Local rider James Williams (Royal Enfield 350) showed complete mastery of his machine, going through the day with a clean sheet, the only Pre-70 mounted rider to so on the day, on his way to winning on the hard route in the Pre-Unit class. There was a two-way tie on the hard route of the Unit class, both riders just having taken a couple of dabs, Daniel Carter (Triumph 350) taking top spot over Chris Collins (BSA 270) under the furthest clean rule. Carter's win meant that he also won the Laurie Bird Cup, awarded to the best performance by a Woodbridge Club member, his fifth year in a row. Peter Bavin (BSA185), despite dropping a couple of threes and a three ones, took the win on the hard route of the Two-Stroke class. Like in the Unit class, the Twin-Shock class on the hard route produced a tie, Richard Norman (Suzuki 250) dropping his only mark on his first attempt of section 5, one section further into the trial than second placed Andrew Arden (Yamaha 250).
On the Pre-Unit intermediate route Nick Dyble (340 BSA) trailed Stephen Parker (Royal Enfield 350) for two laps, before Parker dropped fives on sections 2 and 5 on lap three, handing the lead and ultimately the win to Dyble. In the Unit class there was another single mark tie, Paul Houghton (Triumph 199) dabbed on the very first section of the day, whilst Kevin Bishop (Triumph 230) had his on the last section of his first lap, going far enough clean to secure the win on the intermediate route. A single dab was all that was lost by Craig Crowfoot (James 250) on his way to a relatively clear victory, a margin of five marks over second place, in the two-Stroke class. In the Twin-Shock class there was another tie, this one could not be resolved, as veteran Paul Woods (Yamaha 200) and sixteen year old Brandon Harrold (Honda 250), on a bike lent to him for the day, both went home with a clean sheet.
Joe Stollery (Indian 500) cleaned his first lap on the easy route in the Pre-Unit class, and with just a single two dropped on his second lap, he continued to head the field. However, after losing three marks on his first lap John Lea (Ariel 500) then cleaned his next three, finishing the day at the top of the board with a three mark advantage over Stollery. On both, the Unit and Two-Stroke class easy routes, Brian Fletcher (Royal Enfield 250) and Chris Chapman (Wasp 250) were the sole competitors, respectively, and both faring pretty well on the day. On the easy route in the Twin-Shock class, veteran rider Dour Barrell (Fantic 156) was another to go away without a mark on his sheet, second placed was another veteran, Brian Neale (Honda 125) who had just a single dab throughout the day.
To add to all of the above, there was a special guest rider, who in many ways was the star of the show on a day that was a true family affair. We had no less than five fathers and sons competing, one uncle and nephew pairing and one grandfather (long standing Club member, Joe Stollery) guiding his six year old, star of the show, grandson Alfred Eaves to complete his first Woodbridge Club trial. He competed on the adult easy route, and completed the whole trial on his Beta Electric Minitrial, with a smile on his face, and without doubt put a smile on the face of so many on the day.