The Vertigo Combat project took another important step this weekend as factory rider James Dabill gave the prototype machine its debut in the FIM Trial World Championship with the opening round of the 2015 series taking place in Motegi, Japan. This initial encounter at the highest level of the sport in the more traditional outdoor environment was always going to be a tough occasion with the flyaway nature of the first event adding another level of complexity to the challenge.
Without the normal facilities but with the valuable support of Mitani Motor Sports, Dabill and the Vertigo team operated out of a tented garage and made the best of their temporary surroundings and the limited technical resources that were available to record the Combat’s first pair of point scoring results in the championship, as the newest manufacturer to the long standing series. Three laps of twelve sections, which were modified for the second day to increase the severity, proved a testing challenge for all concerned.
Thursday’s and Friday’s restricted practice sessions were used to set up the prototype machine, as the team made the required adjustments to compensate for the local fuel that reduced the sheer performance of the newly developed injection two stroke engine. Despite this distraction Dabill did his best to focus on the task in hand and fought his way through Saturday’s competition with a set of mixed laps. James’ second lap was his best of the day, but was not quite enough to secure a placing inside the top ten.
With much learned from day one the team worked hard to make the necessary changes overnight to give Dabill an improved package for Sunday’s trial. With bright sunshine as a backdrop for the second day running James looked much more at home on the prototype Combat on day two, and despite falling foul to some over zealous observing the reigning British Champion rode his was up the order as the trial unfolded to claim a morale boosting eighth place come the finish. In fact Dabill was just four marks off what would have been an incredible sixth spot, which was a real possibility if a couple of decisions had gone his way earlier in the day.
Summarising the weekend in Japan Vertigo Sports Team Manager Dougie Lampkin said. “Logistically it has been a big ask for us right at this moment. Having enough bikes ready for James to compete in the British championship, the World championship plus the Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) at this early stage in the project, especially with the first WTC event being in Japan has been a challenge in itself.”
“The problem with the local petrol was something we expected, but we didn’t realise just how big a problem it was going to be. James and the team have done a great job given we could only bring a limited amount of stuff with us, and in the end the result on day two is some reward for everyone’s efforts. Step by step we are learning and making good progress, which is the most important thing.”
Dabill added his own comments. “Saturday was frustrating for all us, but with some different petrol and a lot of hard work by the team we made a good step for Sunday. Sixth place would have been amazing, and to be so close is a real shame, although after yesterday eighth place is still a good result for both me and the prototype Combat. I am sure we will be in a much stronger position when we get back to Europe and have our normal set up around us.”
Dabill and Lampkin, along with the rest of the Vertigo team will now return back to base to finish their final preparations ahead of the start of the SSDT next weekend.
photos – G2F Media