America may not be the first country you would associate with top-flight Trial competition, however TrialGP USA – round six of the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship this coming weekend – has enjoyed a long and rich association with the sport.
This history stretches all the way back to the final year of the European Trial Championship in 1974 when Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin – Martin’s brother and Dougie’s uncle – took a five-mark win over Malcolm Rathmell at Saddleback Park in Orange County.
It must have taken an extraordinary leap of faith to start the championship in California in 1974 because up until then no rider from the USA had ever even contested a round. As it was the home riders were hopelessly outclassed with the five American entrants propping up the entry although Steve Graham, Joe Gugliemelli and Bob Nichelsen all scored points.
In 1975, for the inaugural FIM Trial World Championship, TrialGP USA was included in the calendar at Stepping Stones Ranch in New England and this time around there were nine of Uncle Sam’s finest taking part.
The history books show that Lane Leavitt – winner of the first US National Trials Championship in 1974 – was the best-performing of the home heroes in ninth and his score of seventy was only four behind Martin Lampkin who would go on to win that year’s FIM Trial World Championship.
With interest in Trial growing Stateside the 1976 FIM Trial World Championship travelled to Gold Bar, Washington, for round eight where an eighteen-year-old Marland Whaley – a North American Trial Council Hall of Famer – finished a sensational second just six marks behind Martin Lampkin.
That year eleven American riders competed in their home round and by 1977 the number had swollen to fifteen with Whaley again finishing second, this time behind fantastic Frenchman Charles Coutard at Port Huron. It is also worth noting that although he finished out of the points in Michigan, top American performer in that season’s FIM Trial World Championship was Bernie Schreiber in seventh.
Schreiber was back for more in 1978 when he made history as the first American winner of TrialGP USA at Roaring Branch in Pennsylvania and he repeated his victory the following year at Pueblo on his way to taking the FIM Trial World Championship title.
Since then no American has ever won his home round or indeed the FIM Trial World Championship again, although the home of the brave has appeared regularly on the calendar with venues including Donner Ski Ranch, Watkins Glen, Duluth, Sequatchie and Stepping Stones all featuring multiple times.
The honour of most TrialGP USA wins goes to Dougie Lampkin with seven, two ahead of a three-way tie between Takahisa Fujinami, Jordi Tarres and Adam Raga. Toni Bou is next on the list with three followed by current FIM Trial Director Thierry Michaud and Schreiber on two apiece.
Taking into account his 1974 European Trial Championship victory, Alan Lampkin is tied on one American win with his brother Martin and nephew John – son of the oldest Lampkin brother Arthur – along with Amos Bilbao, Diego Bosis, Gilles Burgat, Eddy Lejeune, Steve Colley, Marc Colomer, Rathmell and Coutard.
This weekend coming Kingman, Arizona will play host to the TrialGP USA for the first time, with all the male riders looking to add their name to the famous Wagner Cup that has become synonymous with this event. Moreover, the mountain venue will also welcome the opening round of the 2017 Women’s Trial World Championship which visits the USA for the first time in its almost twenty-year history.
Keep up to date with all the happenings from Kingman by visiting www.trialgp.com.