Category Archives: People

Jeff Smith Trials Expert

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Coming on to the bookshelves in February 2018 is a new biography written by Ian Berry on Jeff Smith, a man who really should have no introductions, he was of course not only World Motocross champion but also was a very good trials rider, who won the SSDT (1955) and Scott Trial (1954 & 1959).

The book, which is hardback and has 450 pages will be published by Motorsport Publications LLC and Ian hopes to have copies available for the Telford Off Road Show on the weekend of 17/18 February. Price to be announced shortly.

Carlos Casas – SSDT Ambassador

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Carlos Casas (Montesa 4RT) – Photo: Trial Magazine UK

Short video presented by TRIALS GURU on Carlos Casas, the ‘SSDT Ambassador’.

For many years Carlos has enthused about the Scottish Six Days Trial to Spanish and Catalan competitors that this has ensured a healthy interest in the event.

With acknowledgement to Trial Magazine UK

Also an article on Carlos HERE

Click on the centre button to run video:



Karl Clark is 2017 NZ Champ

Karl Clark (Beta) – Photo: Ian Yeomans

The New Zealand Moto Trials Championship, which has been run since 1972, was held over three days at Labour Weekend in October.  New Zealand is made up of two Islands, North and South. Throughout the year each Island holds their own championship held over several weekends.  UK’s Jack Sheppard has ridden in the New Zealand Championship back in 2014 and 2016 and has taken the title both times.  Another previous two time winner is Stefan Merriman who would possibly be the best trials rider to come from New Zealand with his first place finish in the junior world championship in 1989.

Stefan’s name will be also been known in the UK competing in the Scottish and British Championship. Stefan finished third in the Scottish Six Day in 1992. Stefan left trials for enduro and became world champion in 2000. Some other previous New Zealand winners are two time winner James Lawton, six times winner Andrew Poad  and seven time winner Warren Laugesen who all have also competed at Scottish Six Day Trial and done very well.

The 2017 New Zealand Championship was held on the 21 – 23rd of October and was held in the North Island near the bottom of the Island on the Kapiti Coast. New Zealand events are held on mostly farmers properties. This year’s terrain was made up of mostly treacherous creeks, slippery tree roots, sharp rocks, steep banks and climbs. Ten sections of four laps were run over the three days and this year’s championship attracted over 55 competitors.

This year’s winner is Karl Clark, born and raised in Motueka, a small town at the top of the south island. Karl has been competing since 1995, 2003 was the first time Karl competed in the New Zealand Championship top class, expert. Karl managed third place on his first attempt, with winning the first day he also received the New Zealand Experts Trial which is held on one of the three days and has also been run since 1972. Karl then had some time away from the sport due to the birth of his twin boys.  Karl came back to the sport in 2008, competing once again in expert class right through till 2014 where Karl finished always in the top three but never managing the top spot.  In 2014 Karl suffered a back injury which meant he couldn’t compete at the top level.


Six weeks before the 2017 New Zealand Championship Karl decided to give it one more crack in Expert as age is now not on his side.  This has always been a childhood dream of Karls to win the New Zealand Moto Trials Championship. Karl was on true form as he won the premier Expert grade on each of the three days, edging out Taranaki’s Matthew Foster, Christchurch rider Jules Huguenin.

“I was over the moon about the result and thought that chapter had closed for me. Also making it even more special for myself it had been twenty-five years since last won by a South Island rider. Looking back at the weekend, experience was the difference as I had more than ten years over the competition.  I thoroughly enjoyed the three days of sections and would like to thank the Ixion Motorcycle Club for putting on a great event. I’m super proud to finally get my name on the Premier Championship grade trophy”.


Karl himself has also competed in the Scottish Six Day Trial from 2014 to 2016 and receiving first class awards.

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2015 SSDT action with Karl Clark (Beta) on ‘Fersit’ – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Karl is adamant the SSDT event is the best event in the world and he would ride it every year if the cost of getting there wasn’t an issue. He feels that riding the SSDT has improved him as a rider.  Not ruling out a return to Scotland, never say never. Karls more than happy to hang his boots up in the premier class but will still continue to support the sport he loves here in New Zealand and to give back to the future young riders.

FRANZ KADLEC – DM Champion 2017

Franz Kadlec, four times German national champion – Photo: Trialsport Magazine/Hans Greiner

Franz Kadlec is the 2017 German National Trials Champion riding for Gas Gas.

From Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Kadlec clinched the series at the final round at Wusten, Nordrheine-Westfalen earlier this month, this is the fourth German title he has to his credit. He is a former European Champion.

Photo copyright: Hans Greiner/Trialsport DE

Leslie makes his trips worthwhile

KL 2Keith Leslie returned home to Shetland last week after securing a top five place in the SACU Scottish National Trials Championships. He becomes the first Shetlander to make it into the top ten in the overall championship results since it began in 1955, a feat which has not gone unnoticed by his peers.

To commit to travelling south from Shetland for the eight rounds that make up the Championships has been a tremendous effort, along with the associated costs this brings, but he crossed the line last Sunday at Fersit, Spean Bridge to warm applause and lots of handshakes, safe in the knowledge he’d finished in the top five in Scotland in the Over 40 class, narrowly missing out on 4th place overall by just four points.
All the more remarkable is the fact that until this season began, Leslie had only visited three of the five venues that were chosen to hold Nationals, a disadvantage, with his rivals all being seasoned campaigners who’d visited each venue multiple times over the years.

Riding a Gas Gas in the Bon Accord Motorcycle Club, the first test was a ‘local’ trial, if any could be classed as such coming from Shetland. Round one is usually always held at Craiglash Quarry at Banchory on the first week of April, a place Leslie knows well having been there often. This showed in the results as when the points were tallied up he’d secured a career best 4th place, agonisingly missing his first podium by two marks!

Spurred on by that result, and after spending 4 days at the beginning of May in Fort William watching the Scottish Six Day Trial, Keith had to return there with his bike the following weekend for Round 2 at Glen Nevis. Having never really ridden those typical ”Scottish” type gulley sections, and being one of the venues he’d not visited yet, he came away delighted with a 5th place, securing more valuable championship points.

Five weeks passed until another journey south beckoned, this time as far south as he’d go all year when Galashiels was the venue for Round 3. Another one Leslie hadn’t seen yet but some solid riding on the National route saw him set off for home after securing another solid 5th place and more points.

Another five weeks passed before Keith headed away on the boat again for the Dunfermline & District club’s Round 4, Drumcarrow in Tayside was the venue this time, another new one to contend with. Some great riding on the first 2 laps had Leslie in contention for a top 3 finish, but a broken rear brake lever on the third lap meant he had to limp home in 8th place cursing the stone that had shattered his hopes as well as his brake!

Only a month at home before the Perth & District club Aberfeldy Trial in Perthshire was the venue for Round 5. Another place Leslie hadn’t visited, and for all it’s beauty it will be remembered painfully as the scene of his biggest crash of the year! A miscalculation during a steep rocky climb saw Leslie fall with the full weight onto his left leg. Had his good friend Robert James not been riding with him, we might have seen his first retiral of the season as he struggled to put any weight on his leg and had to drop more points on his last lap than he had on the first two combined. Spurred on by Robert, he made it to the end and was glad to finish 6th after his fall.

Another month of rest and physio on his injured leg saw Keith head off again, this time for Round 6 at the Inverness & District club’s Paul Kilbauskas memorial trial at Alvie Estate, near Aviemore. A place he’d visited before, and knew roughly. Conditions worsened as soon as Keith and his good friend Trevor Gibb arrived, and they knew they’d be in for a serious test. Torrential rain all morning made the burns almost impossible to ride, as foaming water meant nobody could see the line through. Seven riders had to retire with machines that had been drowned in deep water but Leslie persevered and finished 6th, securing more valuable points.

The end was in sight as only two weeks later he had to return south for the final 2 rounds of the Championship on consecutive weekends. Bob Macgregor Trials Academy at Dunlop in Ayrshire was the venue for the penultimate round, another new one for Keith but he rode solidly all day and ended up 5th overall in his class. The highlight of that weekend was seeing his good friend Craig Houston become the first Ayrshire man to ever win the Scottish Premier title for 2017.

A weeks holiday with his daughter beside family in Peterhead meant Keith travelled south feeling quite fresh the following weekend. The Lochaber club’s Grace Dignan memorial trial at Fersit, Spean Bridge was the venue for Round 8, the final round of the 2017 championships.

Rain and strong winds eased as the morning went on, but the ground was slippy and everyone seemed to be crashing Leslie included. A difficult moor crossing where the riders had to summit a Monroe before descending the other side on each lap took it’s fair share of casualties but Leslie hung in to end the trial 5th again overall, and finish 5th place in the championship, only missing 4th by four marks!!

Delighted with how his first attempt competing at National level had gone, Leslie said:

” It’s a dream come true really. Initially I had thought if I could make it into the top 10 in Scotland at my first attempt I’d be more than happy, so to have made it into the top 5 is unbelievable really, especially given I’d never seen five of the eight venues.
I only bought a trials bike when I turned forty, I watched a Julien Dupont video on YouTube and thought, i’d like one of those bikes. I’d had motocross bikes before that but had never swung my leg over a trials bike until I turned 40, and you know the saying about old dogs & new tricks! I was lucky as my good friend Gary Mcmillan helped me with the fundamentals, and we had a couple of coaching weekends from eleven times Scottish Premier Champion Gary Macdonald, and current Champion, Craig Houston which helped massively. All the people above me in the championship have been expert level trials riders in their younger days, so to be competing with them after only five years of practise is something i’m extremely proud of, if a little bewildered by.”

He continued:  ”It has cost me a lot in travel, fuel & digs but it’s something I’ll never forget. It’ll always be in the history books now. Hopefully if I secure some more sponsorship for next year I’d like another crack at it, given how well I’ve done this year.
We’ll see though, as I’ve put an entry in for the Scottish Six Day Trial next year and will find out in December if I’ve been one of the lucky ones and got in. It’s often referred to as the hardest test of machine & man in the world, given it’s duration and the amount of miles you have to cover, and is way over subscribed each year, but fingers crossed, I think it’d make all my effort this year worthwhile if I got in and had a go.”

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Finally, Keith would like to thank everyone who has helped him this year:

Northlink Ferries and their staff; Tay-CAD; Skretting; Highland Leisure Sport; GasGas UK; Factory Kev; Splatshop; Ewen Georgeson; Gary Mcmillan; Brian Gray; Robert James & Trevor Gibb.

Photos: Brian Gray Photography, Shetland

Barry Robinson 86 not out!

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Barry Robinson

Few people in motorcycle sport will not have either heard, or come across, the name Barry Robinson.

Barry from Ilkley, West Yorkshire has been taking photos and reporting on events for over 60 years. He turns 86 on 19th October and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Barry Robinson has been taking photographs for more than 60 years.

Serious about his craft, he joined the National Union of Journalists and he has worked on The Motor Cycle; MCN; Daily Telegraph; Californian Biker; Newsquest; Yorkshire TV to name but a few.

Robinson got to know Eric Rathmell, father of Malcolm back in 1953 when he rented a cottage in the village of Otley and became life-long friends with the Rathmells from that moment on.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat said: “I came across the name Barry Robinson by reading reports of trials in MCN when I was still at school. In particular an event that I attended as a spectator at Rochdale, the ACU Inter-Centre Team Trial that was in 1973. I was fortunate to be introduced to Barry some years ago when attending a Scott Trial and to my surprise he had heard of me, through the sport. Like most motorcyclists, he is a true enthusiast and I think his experience led him to believe that I was too and we hit it off. Since then he has taken my photo many times when interviewing and he has allowed me to use these here on Trials Guru. I spent a whole day with him and Eric Kitchen at ‘Goats’ during the Reeth Three Day trial a few years ago, which was a very entertaining experience. It was a joy to see these two guys at work and the banter between them was hilarious”.

Richmond sidecar trials driver, Barry Watson told Trials Guru: “I first met Barry Robinson in 1976 at the Allan Jefferies Trial, which Ronnie Suttill and I won, beating Arthur Lampkin. In his words, he said, well I suppose I had better take a photograph seeing you have won!”

Robinson has actually ridden many factory bikes in his time, especially those of Malcolm Rathmell. These included the works Bultacos, Montesas and of course Beamish Suzuki.

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Trying out Malcolm Rathmell’s factory Montesa in 1982, Robinson has had his leg over quite a few factory machines in his day.

He has also had close ties with the Lampkins, especially Arthur, the eldest of the Silsden brothers.

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Barry Robinson astride a 750 MV Agusta, which belonged to Mallory Park owner, Chris Meek. MCN borrowed it for a road test, but damaged the motor.

A very private person, Barry Robinson told Trials Guru: “Not a lot of people are aware of my long connection with the Rathmell and Lampkin families or that I actually rode trials, as an expert; scrambles, as an idiot, or that I was a Yorkshire and Lancashire champion grass track sidecar passenger and rode in televised scrambles as a solo and sidecar passenger”.

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Malcolm Rathmell’s factory Montesa Cota 349 in 1982 – photographed by Barry Robinson

Robinson has also been a Speedway referee, a TT and Ulster GP mechanic for Alan Shepherd and Rob Fitton and an ACU road race steward. He was also an assistant clerk of the course of the Ilkley Grand National to Eric Rathmell for 25 years. He also ran the Dunlop press office at the SSDT for three years when the tyre company sponsored the event.

Barry has captured on both roll film and digitally all of the top riders of their day.

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Rob Edwards relaxes after the Scott Trial in 1981 -Photo Copyright: Barry Robinson, Ilkely.

Happy birthday Barry on the 19th of October, you have a good few miles and events to cover yet!

This tribute to Barry Robinson on his 86th birthday is copyright.

Article: Trials Guru / MoffatRacing ~ 2017

Photographs: Barry Robinson ~ world wide copyright, All Rights Reserved

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