Category Archives: People

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.

KARL CLARK 2015 Fersit
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.

Barry Robinson - Younger
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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Houston is 2017 Champion

Craig Houston is the new Scottish Premier Trials Champion – Photo: Brian Gray Photography

Craig Houston is the 2017 Scottish Premier Trials Champion. He is the first Ayrshireman to hold the Scottish Trials Championship Premier class since it began back in 1955.

Known in the Scottish Trials world as ‘Housty’, Trials Guru was quick of the mark to do a ‘five minutes with’ style interview with the man himself.

Craig Houston is the first Ayshireman to win the Scottish title – Photo: Brian Gray Photography
Craig: “My Dad, George, also a trials rider, got me into motorcycle sport, he got me a Yamaha PW50 at four years old and a Yamaha TY80 a few years later.
I didn’t compete until I was around twelve when I entered the local Stevenston and Dalmellington clubs’ trials riding a brute of a 1999 Beta Techno!
I have 2 major influences in trials, firstly school teacher, Alan MacDonald, who was not only my maths teacher but my trials teacher in the early days!
He used to throw me out of his class during the day and then I’d go out practising with him and his brother, Duncan at night!
He used to get annoyed when I called him ‘Mr Macdonald’ at trials as it made him feel old. I still do it now and again, but he is old now so it’s fine. 
My other big influence is Gary Macdonald, who has helped me a lot over the years and actually got me back into trials after giving up for three years when I turned nineteen.
He’s a pretty awesome trials rider and definitely the best Scotland has seen- and probably will see for a long time yet. 
My all time favourite trials rider is Takumi Narita, I think he was awesome, his riding style was great to watch and way ahead of it’s time”. 
‘Housty’ on his Duncan Wood supplied Scorpa 300 – Photo: Brian Gray Photography

Trials Guru: What is your line of work Craig?

“I’m a mechanical fitter working in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. My job is well suited to maintaining motorcycles which is great. 
Now I’ve won the Scottish championship I want to try and do better at national events down south, like the S3 rounds and the BTC, the Scott and the big one will always be the SSDT.
I hope to string a good week together up in the Highlands one year! I am also looking forward to trying to retain the title next year against Andy Anderson, Joe Dawson and Duncan MacColl. Should make for an interesting championship in 2018!
I have to say a massive thank you to Duncan Wood at East Neuk Trials Motorcycles who has been helping me out since 2014, without him I wouldn’t be able to to do what I love so thank you very much”.
Thanks to Craig Houston for taking time out from his busy schedule and best of luck for next season, 2018.

Article Copyright: Trials Guru/MoffatRacing 2017

Photographs copyright: Brian Gray Photography, Shetland Isles –

C.H. Wood – Master Film-maker

Trials Guru is honoured to be permitted access to the photographs taken by the well-known film-maker, Mr. Charles Harold Wood of Bradford, who began a photographic career in 1922.

The firm of C.H. Wood (Bradford) Limited, formed in 1932 made many films for Castrol oils, both to publicise their products and promote motor sport in general.

Many motor and motor cycle clubs made use of the Castrol film facility for club film show evenings across the length and breadth of the UK.

Recently David Wood, son of C.H. Wood was speaking to Trials Guru’s John Moffat and they realised that they had family connections back to the late ninteen sixties and seventies.

In 1968, the Wood film company were shooting a film in Scotland at Ryeflat Farm, Carstairs, Lanarkshire. This was a scrambles event run by the Edinburgh Southern MC and Moffat’s father, T. Arnott Moffat was instrumental in organising the filming which was eventually formed part of the Castrol film, ‘Quartet for Two Wheels’. This was four motorcycle events in one movie. A scramble in Scotland, the Inter Centre Team Trial in Wales, Racing at Scarborough’s Olivers Mount and road racing at Kirkistown in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Filming at Ryeflat, Carstairs for ‘Quartet for Two Wheels’ – An unknown piper with Mrs. C.H. Wood recording sound, watched by director, Harold Wood, Derek Guy of Castrol and David Wood captures the action on a professional cine camera.  Copyright – David Wood Archive

The Wood family attended these events and both David and Harold Wood met Arnott Moffat. David also met Moffat at many Scottish Six Days Trials over the years, when on location to make more films for the Castrol Film Library.

David Wood and John Moffat met at the 2014 Scott Trial Reunion dinner at the Ripon Spa Hotel, organised by mutual friend Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin. The meeting was recorded by John Hulme of Trial Magazine that evening.

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Scott Trial Reunion 2014 photo by John Hulme of Trial Magazine UK – Left to right: Arthur Lampkin; the late Martin Lampkin; Rob Edwards (on Scott machine); Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin; David Wood; John Brittain & John Moffat

Some time later, David started looking at Trials Guru website and decided that it would be a good place to allow some of his father’s trials archive to be seen.

David Wood told Trials Guru recently: “My father was C. H. Wood of course but after he retired I ran the company for another twenty years, making over two-hundred motor sport films not only for Castrol and Shell, but for companies such as BSA/Triumph, Yamaha, Honda, Camel, Champion, Dunlop and Suzuki. The last Scottish Six Days film I made was ‘Mick Andrews Trials Champion’.

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Camera, action! – David Wood seen here filming Mick Andrews in 1973 at Edinburgh’s Gorgie Market at the start of the SSDT during the making of ‘Mick Andrews Trials Champion’ for Yamaha Motor Company. Photo courtesy of David Wood Archive

I kept the C. H. Wood name as a tribute to my father, but many people think he was a one man band who made films for 70 odd years. When I retired C.H. Wood (Bradford) Ltd had a staff of over 30.
The later films were made with quite large crews and though it was hard work I wouldn’t change anything”.

What better opportunity to do this but at Scott Trial time. So here we are, some examples of C.H. Wood’s work, some never having been seen in public before.

Trials Guru are delighted to be able to bring you these images and are indebted to David Wood’s generosity.

Please be aware that all these images belong to the David Wood Archive and no reproduction can be made without express written permission from Mr. David Wood.

Click to take you to: In Focus with C H Wood

Some images can be seen within the Scott Trial page on Trials Guru HERE

Guardian of Trial Memories – Charly Demathieu

World famous, the manual magnetic scoreboard of Charly Demathieu, wearing his Ecole de Trial Happy shirt provided by TRAP – Transfers Racing Adrien Prato

The Guardian of Trial Memories – Charly Demathieu

Thirty years in the world of trials, if one man has made his mark it’s the Belgian, Charly Demathieu. The absolute reference point for the scorecards at both the Belgian and Spanish Championships as well as all the World rounds, he is the true living memory of our sport. The guardian of trials history he has put his treasured archive on his fabulous website This is the story of an encounter with a genuinely passionate individual that does not only live by numbers.

“I was the first minder in the history of trials with Jean-Marie Lejeune.” – Charly Demathieu

“Trialonline has 4000 pages and almost all the results of all the big events since the birth of our discipline.” – Charly Demathieu

Words: Philippe Pilat – John Hulme – Charly Demathieu
Pictures: Delui – Haussi – Eric Kitchen – Colin Bullock and private collections.

Who is Charly Demathieu?

Charly: “I was born on 12th June 1952 at Cheratte (North of Liege – Belgium), in fact I still live there. I followed my humanities course until the sixth year, which is the equivalent of ‘A’ levels in the UK. Then I got my driving licence and I became a truck driver for the Public Welfare Centre of Liege for whom I worked for twenty years. The centre later closed and I found myself as an archivist in a psychiatric hospital, completely different but really not an obvious career change at first but it was a very rewarding experience to live in contact with patients with severe drug and alcohol problems. I learned a lot through these people that we really do not need to be afraid of them, yet they frighten almost everyone … Another twenty years passed very quickly and for the last two years I have been a pensioner, but not quite retired!”

Before the computer revolution, the world trials series was covered by a 400 page book

Which is the source of your passion for trials?

Charly: “Oh, I feel a bit like Obelix, I fell into a tiny cauldron filled with a potion (passion!) for the magic of trials. Still in my pram, my mother often took me to see my godfather, Rene Georges, and my cousin Roger ride. Later there was one man who gave me a really genuine passion for the sport, Jean-Marie Lejeune (Eddy Lejeune’s elder brother). In 1975 I was a spectator at the Grand Prix held in Sommieres and Jean-Marie was looking for a driver to take him to the next round in Sweden. It started well and I was soon driving the Lejeune family truck to all the Grand Prix’s and once there I tried to occupy myself so I started making small rankings of the results”.

You rode trials in the seventies … why did you stop?

Charly: “I just rode as a Novice and then Intermediate but without any impressive results. In fact at the time I was especially fond of my road cycle. My claim to fame is that I was the first minder in the history of trials with Jean-Marie but my job was so very different from their current duties. I followed my rider between sections with my backpack filled with essentials as this was the time when motorcycles were much less reliable than today. I helped with repairs for Rathmell, Lampkin and Karlson. Solidarity amongst riders was much stronger than today. I was almost never seen in sections, I stood at the ends cards, ready to intervene if necessary. I watched the lines and rides of his competitors but I never set foot inside the section. I remember one time when Jean-Marie made me stand in the middle of a river with water up to my waist to mark the deep hole where he should not ride. We were very close to each other and then we lost contact for nearly fifteen years since I was often on results duty in Spain and rarely in Belgium. We met again by chance in 2011 during the GP of France at Isola 2000”.

1970s shot of (from left) Jean-Marie Lejeune, Charly Demathieu and Jean Lejeune

How do you convert from competitor to official – organiser?

Charly: “I rode events for a few years. I drove the Lejeune family to all events using holidays that I could earn by working on other weekends of the year. For a long time I looked after the Belgian Championship but I finally stopped because it took me too much time. I was race director, timekeeper, starter and closer of the event too, you know the one who leaves after the last rider to remove and collect the section markers. I also worked with the setting out of sections; at the time we marked the inter-section route with methylene blue mixed with plaster. You finished the day blue all over; the colour did not want to wash off! I also managed entries for the GP’s, allocation of riding numbers; I standardised the various documents for the Championship so we could use the same media everywhere”.
You became the “Grand Vizier” of the scoreboard with your famous magnetic board….

Charly: “It was with Jean-Marie Lejeune that we came up with the idea of a magnetic board to display the scores but I did not actually put into practice until 1982. On one side there were the rankings of the day, on the other those of the Championship and I got to the final result by sliding my magnets up or down. I managed to calculate the score very quickly so when riders brought me their score card I put the results on the famous board and everyone could see where they had finished compared to their competitors in almost real time. I was doing all this alone at many events. At Bilstain for the Belgian GP I arrived with a large format magnetic board that I installed on the podium. The Italians asked me to do the same at their home round: I said yes, then it was the turn of the Finns … and I was away, I did it all over the world. It lasted nearly twenty years and then one day the truck of the Spanish Federation was stolen in Poland along with the famous scoreboard that was in it. I then finally moved onto the computer but suddenly I could not see the riders as I did before and I was no longer on the podium with the public: I was tapping on my keyboard in a corner”.

What is your current status? Are you an employee of the FIM, do you still work for the Spanish Federation?
Charly: “I work for the FIM at the World rounds. I am in a team of three with Jordi Pascuet and Jake Miller: it’s a package imposed by the International Federation (FIM), it is not I who makes the decision to go or not to a particular GP. It may not suit the organisers who prefer to use the services of ‘locals’ who are more often than not very competent, but they do not calculate the overall rankings throughout the season. In addition we represent for them a significant cost. A few years ago I took my car and I went to the other end of Europe but with age I can no longer do things in the same way. So the organisers of the GP must support our airfare, accommodation etc… This represents a budget they would like to distribute down to the volunteers already in place. I did the same job for the Spanish Championship for eighteen years; I stopped only four years ago. I was away twenty seven weekends a year. Since I am a pensioner I have more time but there were still two years that I spent all my holidays to travel. I was always away but I loved it. I loved certain events such as the trial of Montmartre in Paris in the nineties. I found it wonderful to be able to bring trials machines here! They should have done the same thing in Barcelona. The urban trial at Cahor’s in France is superb it seems but I never went there. We must find a way to introduce trials to the public who know nothing of our discipline”.

What were the various stages or changes in your work?

Charly: “There came a time when I was forced to stop organising events in Belgium due to a lack of time, I was spending so many weekends at the Spanish Championship whilst working at the hospital in Liege during the week. I was often with Jordi Prat; it is we two who have defined the current format of the Trial des Nations. Before we took only the top three total scores of the four members of the team, later we decided to only take into account the three best results of the four teammates in each section. Our principle was tested and finally accepted by Ignacio Verneda then President of the FIM, it was he who insisted on my presence at each Grand Prix. That gave me more time to spend on the road!”

Charly explains the scores to Gas Gas UK boss, John Shirt Jnr at a world round

Any anecdotes, vivid memories?

Charly: “Many, inevitably, there are often amazing things that happen at a trial! For example at the GP of San Marino in 2008 when the local club wanted to refuse the technical controls being undertaken by the Italian Federation as it obviously did not please them, they had a real zealous approach, so they thoroughly checked all the dates of various documents (insurance, motorcycle registrations etc) of all foreign riders, it was a massive panic, as some of the riders feared they would be excluded from starting! Eight days later in Foppolo for the Italian Grand Prix, it was again the same controllers; they finished at lightning speed without any real checks. Still at the same event, we went back home on Sunday evening without being able to send out any results. Italian TV had saturated all internet connections; it took ten minutes to send an email of three words!”

1982 Scottish Six Days, Charly with Eddy Lejeune (Honda)

You created ‘Trialonline’ and have written dozens of books: you’re a pretty verbose boy!

Charly: “It is only for personal pleasure that I did all that. I’ve always loved creating stories from the passion that I witnessed. I have written fifteen books on Belgian, Spanish and World events, but I have even more to give. I have created a CD Rom containing all the results from around the world, which works in the same way as my website that I created at the request of the FIM in 2004. Since then I keep feeding Trialonline the results of trials in the most diverse countries such as Israel, New Zealand and even some South American countries. I update the results of the latest events even those held last weekend. You click on the flag of a country and you get the corresponding results, you click on the photo of a rider, you know his record. Trialonline has 4,000 pages through which we find almost all the results of all events since the birth of our discipline: it is only missing 21 ranking events!  Sometimes it is very difficult to obtain results; I often prefer to speak to organising clubs rather than National Federations who are not really making big communication efforts in this area. You can find the results of the year, but not those from previous seasons! In France, it is Oliver de la Garoulaye who took the trouble to dig through the archives of the FFM to find the results since the first World round. Here I absolutely have all the results, but only thanks to fans like him, not because of the Federation”.

Charly chats to Thierry Michaud at the Belgian world round in 1988

What are your plans for the future?

Charly: “To finalise my archives, finding the 21 results I am still missing. I am also concerned about what will happen if I stop Trialonline work with the FIM. I renew the partnership each year, but I may not want to one day, it worries me to leave because there would be nobody to take it on after me. I’m also a big fan of Asterix: I have 600 volumes published in 42 different languages, I am very proud of my collection and I have some very rare specimens. I need to update my rankings for Trialonline; right now I’m working on a trial in New Zealand. I also plan a new grading program offering a choice between two or three rounds, a variable number of sections, all this is a lot of work”.

Takahisa Fujinami pops into the FIM Press office to say ‘Hi’ to his old friend Charly Demathieu

What is the state of health of Belgian trials?

Charly: “As elsewhere, is too often a single person who takes care of everything in his club and when this guy stops, the club dies. We also have the organisation related to ecological constraints that are huge in Belgium, much worse than your problems. For example, in the province of Liege, in the eighties, there were more than ten events per year, now we have only one quarter and in the rest of the country, it is the same problem. There is still a trial in Mons, Aywaille, and Bilstain and in Wavre and that is almost everything. You really have to go to private land such as Bilstain for young people to ride legally. This is the only way forward. Obviously the financial crisis is even worse for young people who have much difficulty in finding the budget to ride. It is certain that Belgian trials have seen better days!”

How do you feel about the disappearance of the GP in Belgium?

Charly: “This is something that really saddens me the as last GP was already six years ago and I look forward to the next one in Comblain-au-Pont close to Aywaille on the 13th July this year. At the last Bilstain round there was a strong divergence between the organisers and the FIM in particular with regard to the departure time. Since then the FIM does not want to go back. There was later a GP at Spa – Francorchamps in 2006 but that also ended badly. In the late afternoon there was an anti-doping control which lasted a long time and the prize ceremony could not take place until the test results were known. Inevitably the public became impatient and left without waiting for the podium presentation, the party was spoiled! It struck me as a tough decision as the results had been ready for a long time…. So I’d like to set the record straight, contrary to what has been said by many, it is not the fault of Charly Demathieu that there were no more Belgian GP’s! In 2007 the request by the organisation for a date was too late and the GP has not occurred since. This is obviously very unfortunate, if only because of the central location of our country, it is not such an expensive event for the vast majority of participants”.

If you could see the realisation of your three wishes, what would they be?

Charly: “To make the most popular trial by creating attractive and free to spectator trials, so not really like our current indoor circus … Reaching out to people I do not know and of course find the 21 results I miss between 1964 and today”.

Vesty 1981 - Parc Ferme - CJB
Charly Demathieu “I love Yrjo Vesterinen, the first truly professional rider”. Vesty seen here at the 1981 Scottish Six Days in the paddock – Photo: Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic

What else would you want to say?

Charly: “I wanted to tell you about my favourite riders. Obviously there is Jean-Marie Lejeune but Mick Andrews for his ability to adapt quickly to different machines whilst remaining competitive. I love Yrjo Vesterinen, the first truly professional rider. I also appreciate Fujinami as he is someone who respects everyone and always passes by to say hello. Thank you and hello, they cost nothing, but it is important to all the hard working enthusiasts who create our sport. I would also like to take my hat off to people who have the courage to write about trials, just like you at Trial Magazine!”

Charly Demathieu, happy in his work


This article was first published in Trial Magazine Issue 45 June/July 2014, we are grateful to John Hulme and Trial Magazine for the cooperation and use of this article.

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For Charly Demathieu’s Trialsonline website – HERE