The 2022 South Island Trial Championships
CAPTION: Paul Mountstevens, likely to be one of the riders to feature prominently at the South Island Trials Championships next weekend. Photo supplied.
If the sport’s commentators refer to the “Bandits of Balance” or “Kings of Control”, it can mean only one thing – we’re looking at the athletes of the moto trial motorcycling community.
Rounds three and four of the South Island Trial Championships are scheduled for next weekend (August 20 and 21) and these back-to-back events are sure to pose a stern test for both man and machine, as well as producing a highly-entertaining spectacle for onlookers.
Sharp rocks, slippery tree roots, treacherous creek beds and steep hills … these are mere judder bars on the path for these bike riders.
With this branch of motorcycling sport, the emphasis is not on speed, but on fine balance, bravery and delicate throttle control.
The prime aim is to conquer the extreme terrain without touching feet on the ground or falling off. Points are lost for these “faults” and a rider with the lowest score wins.
Round three of the South Isaland series is scheduled for the Latham family property in Western Valley, just outside Little River on the way to Akaroa. Round four, the following day, is set for Kaituna Valley, signposted from the Christchurch-Akaroa highway.
The final two rounds of the six-round series will be held in conjunction with the Moto Trial Nationals in Alexandra over Labour weekend.
“Both of next weekend’s venues feature the slippery Banks Peninsula creeks, but this year with all the rain we’ve had, the hillsides won’t give the riders any relief,” said event organiser Derek Scott.
“It promises to be a wet and muddy event, which some will love and others, like me, will hate.”
This year sees the introduction of the VCS system, so the sport now has championship classes for Expert, Veteran 1, Veteran 2, Twin shock, Women and Juniors as well as the Mini classes (Mini 1, 2 and3). Added to that is also recognition for each line or course the riders take, be it graded orange, red, yellow, green or blue.
With a few of the regular stars missing from the entries, it will be almost impossible to identify a favourite or two, but the talent on show is certainly not diluted, with plenty of individuals capable of delivering the goods.
Expert rider Jules Huguenin will only just be back from overseas and likely to be suffering from jet lag, but he should add to his wins from the earlier rounds in Dunedin.
Hoping to keep him honest will likely be the Hibbs brothers, Jason and Brad, these riders also fighting off competition from Tom Beedles and last year’s South Island champion Paul Mountstevens.
Mountstevens missed the Dunedin rounds after contracting COVID-19 two days before the event, but now he’s fully fit and determined to challenge.
In the Vet 1 grade, Glenn Smith should again be a standout and keen to build upon his two wins in Dunedin, although the return of Brendon Wadsworth, who missed those rounds, could make it interesting.
The Vet 2 grade is expected to be hotly contested with Brent Downes leading the way, with Alan Honeybone and Peter Hosking, plus a few others, not too far behind.
Best of the women will likely be Shirley McDonald and Christine Thompson. Thompson skipped the previous rounds, but she has been riding well and narrowly beat McDonald at this year’s Kaikoura Three-Day Trial event.
In the younger age group, it will be worth watching for Evie Hubbard, Bodie Harper, Zach Hibbs and the return of last year’s champion Ted Ceci, who missed the first rounds.
Last year’s Twin Shock class winner, Wayne Harper, is leading the competition after the opening rounds, although Paul Jackson should be there to keep him honest this coming weekend.
August 20-21: South Island Series, Rounds 3&4 – Christchurch
September date TBC: North Island Series, Rounds 5&6 – Wellington
October 22-24: NZ Trial Championships – Alexandra
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com