Plenty of thrills – and spills – on the Exeter Trial

| 18 Jan 2012

An incident and action packed Motor Cycling Club Exeter Trial opened the 2012 classic trials season with a bang on 6-7 January.

Heavy rain made sections unpredictable, with some, such as the infamous ‘stopper’ Simms, forcing all but a handful of fails, though vehicles as disparate as front-drive VW Golf and rear-drive Hillman Avenger did see the summit showing that you can be successful in anything.

Other sections such as Fingle Bridge and Wooston Steep were relatively benign. Difficult night-time sections such as Waterloo were cancelled to bring the event back on time.

Simms also saw an unfortunate roll which spilled Alan Spencer and John Dando, crew members of the Parsons Special, into a short hospital visit – injuries were painful but not life threatening.

Despite being easier than most years, Slippery Sam – Brian Hampson's BMW Compact pictured on it, above – lost out to delays at Simms.

A broken axle on Dick and Richard Bolts' Mk1 Escort on the exit brought proceedings to a further halt which led the section to be cancelled. Unfazed by nightfall and a muddy track, the Bolts gamely affected a repair to get them out of the section and home.

Overcoming a range of obstacles including downed trees blocking the route, at the last moment competitors enjoyed a glorious day and provided spectators with a varied entry.

Duncan Pittaway made the best noise as he thrashed his new classic trials mount, a TVR V8 S (main image) through the sections. “We’ve had a brilliant time, cleaned everything except Simms which is no disgrace this year,” said delighted Pittaway.

An exceptional entry of TRs – a 3A, five 7s and an 8, Phil Tucker's TR3A on Slippery Sam above, Simon Hendra's 7 at Tillerton below – along with the usual plethora of post-war MGs entertained with some truly gritty performances.

Despite the growing 1970-'80s theme, pre-war cars were still much in evidence. Tim Dutton and an all-female VSCC crew bounced their Model A Ford up sections in press-on style.

Austin Sevens scuttled about in usual fashion including veteran pairing of Barry Clarke and ‘Grotty Chummy’. Bill and Liz Bennett screamed their diminutive 850cc MG J2 along with gusto, as did Dudley Steery with his fearsome, massively blown 1466cc J2 special.

The antithesis came from a duo of Trojans that gracefully pop-popped their way to the top of most sections inspiring a vision of the earliest days of the event.

Results are yet to be released, but will be posted here when they are available.

Words and pictures by Steve Welsh

Nigel and Jamie Oakley scream their 2 stroke SAAB 96 up Tillerton

William Holt and Nigel Brown with their Allard M Type

Re-start at Slippery Sam, the Liege Sports RS of Kevin Barnes and Stephen Haynes

Purposeful A35 of David Ellison