When the 2017 TrialGP campaign gets under way on 13/14 May at Camprodon, Spain the big question will be can anyone stop Toni Bou – Repsol Honda from taking an incredible eleventh consecutive World title?
The Spaniard is arguably the greatest Trial rider of all time but, however, we must not forget the long list of champions who have graced the series over its forty-three-year history.
The very first rider to hold the coveted title of FIM Trial World Champion was the late, great Martin Lampkin who we very sadly lost last year. Famed for his forceful, aggressive style, Martin bulldozed his way to the crown in 1975 before the Iceman – Finn Yrjo Vesterinen – reeled off a hat-trick of championship wins in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
America won its first and up to now only World Championship in 1979 thanks to the showy skills of Bernie Schreiber before Sweden’s Ulf Karlson took the title back to Scandinavia in 1980.
Karlson was demoted to second the following year by Frenchman Gilles Burgat but he in turn was eclipsed in 1982 by Eddy Lejeune on the distinctive four-stroke Honda.
The Belgian, with his trademark tinted glasses, dominated the 1982 season with eight wins from twelve events and he repeated this feat in 1983 to stamp his authority on the championship.
Lejeune’s hat-trick was completed in 1984, although his margin of victory was much, much narrower and in 1985 France’s Thierry Michaud, runner-up the previous year, finally made it to the top.
Winner again in 1986, Michaud slipped to third in 1987 as Spain’s Jordi Tarres won the championship, though he regained the title in 1988 in a close fought campaign that went down to the final round in Poland.
The next three years were dominated by Tarres who scored a hat-trick of his own in 1989, 1990 and 1991 before his run was halted by Finnish favourite Tommi Ahvala in 1992.
Tarres then bounced back to underline his legendary status with a second hat-trick in 1993, 1994 and 1995 before he was dethroned by compatriot Marc Colomer in 1996.
In 1997, twenty-two years after his father had won the inaugural world championship, Dougie Lampkin took the title back to Britain and kept it there for seven years before finally relinquishing it to Takahisa Fujinami who in 2004 became and remains Japan’s only FIM trial World Champion.
Fujigas’ reign was, however, short-lived and in 2005 and 2006 it was Spain’s Adam Raga who won.
Widely regarded in Spain as the successor to their great national hero Tarres, Raga was tipped to be the next dominant force in World Trial.
However, waiting in the wings was an ambitious and wildly talented young Spaniard by the name of Toni Bou who had other ideas and who was about to embark on a record-breaking winning run the like of which had never been seen before…
Keep up to date with the 2017 TrialGP series by visiting www.trialgp.com.