The Metzeler Off-road Park in Pietramurata Northern Italy hosted the first round of the FIM European Trials Championship. This venue is known to many championship riders, as the purpose built centre has hosted World and European events in the past.
Weather across the weekend was dry and hot, keeping the rocky obstacles slippery, not from the British mud which most of the ACU riders would be used to, but from dust which was blowing from the motocross and enduro courses which are interlaced around the trials sections.
All of the normal European Championship classes were present. The action started on Saturday with the Women and Youth Championships as well as the International classes. Having walked the sections the afternoon before it was a case of the riders reminding themselves and their minders of the chosen lines, from outside of the section tape. Once happy it was time to put plans into action!
In the Women’s Championship Alicia Robinson and Gabby Whitham flew the British flag. Starting mid pack allowed them to view other riders lines and see which worked or didn’t. However with a time restriction of 4.5 hours there wasn’t too much time to ponder. After covering the 28 sections laid out on the Saturday, Gabby finished 13th
with Alicia 9th
, a solid start to their championship campaigns.
Joe Snelling made his European Championship debut in the Youth International class, a good chance to be riding throughout Europe, allowing Joe to gain experience not only on different types of terrain but also watching different riding styles. The Youth International class had the largest entry on the Saturday, with most of the European countries represented by at least one of the 25 entrants. After just over 4 hours of riding, in the 20 degree heat, Joe finished in 15th
The Youth Championship class contained not only four of the UK’s best up and coming talents but also several European riders who are on the radars of manufacturer teams! With this in mind it was proud moment to end the day with Isle of Man first timer in Europe Owen Chestnut in 19th
and Harry Turner in 9th
, Harry Hemingway in 4th
, Ben Dignan in 3rd
and Jack Dance in 2nd
. This showing that the competitiveness of the ACU Youth Championships is producing good talented riders for the future.
On Sunday a couple of the sections were dropped and new obstacles added, riders now having to cover 15 sections on two laps with the conditions and heat continuing from Saturday.
Alicia making the most of her time on the continent, took the opportunity to rider in the International 2 class, this is open to Men and Women of varying ages. Sadly towards the end of her first lap Alicia fell and hurt her leg. With her sights fully on the Women’s Championship she retired, resting the leg ready for the next round.
Brett Harbud riding his 125cc Beta was the only British rider competing in the Junior Cup, with other riders on 250cc bikes Brett was down on power but up for the challenge. At the end of the first lap Brett was tied with two other riders in 14th
position, but with the heat something we’re not used to in the UK it was possible to see that the heat was sapping Brett’s energy causing frustration when dropping what he considered to be slack dabs. Proof of this was a slight increase in Brett’s second lap score which meant he lost out in the three way tie, eventually finishing in 18th
Brothers Dan and Jack Peace along with Toby Martyn were starting their international seasons by riding in the top flight of European Trials. With the first round of the World Championship starting in late May at the same venue, the chance to get used to the conditions and sections could prove to be highly beneficial later in the year.
With a very competitive class, including World, European and many national champions, the scores were always going to be tight and after the first lap a six mark difference covered the top six riders. Heading into their second laps the heat was at its peak and the pressures increased by such close competition. With most of the class close together, the crowds followed the group of riders around the last 8 sections of the lap knowing that they would see some impressive rides.
By the end of the trial local rider and eventual winner Matteo Grattarola had just one mark between himself and 2nd
place with a slight larger step back to 3rd
and the rest of the scoreboard. Jack finished best of the Brits in 6th
place, two marks ahead of Toby Martyn in 7th
. After several uncharacteristic 5 mark penalties, Dan finished in 10th
position, with just 1 additional mark dropping him from 8th
All riders head now to the famous Monza race track which will host the 2nd
round of the Championship, this event running across the 27th
of April. For all riders it’s been a good start to the season with a solid base to build upon during the rest of the international season.
Report Gordon Lawley ACU Delegate
Picture Pixel Point Photography –Scott Lawley