SAM’S SLOT: What’s a Classic Trial?
At the beginning of this year I was introduced to a new and rather different kind of motorsport, Classic Trials. My Dad has taken part in many trials as a co-driver for my Godfather, but until 2016 I had never experienced this unique form of motorsport competition.
Classic Trials take place all over the country in the winter months of the year. This is where I may get a bit like James May to explain how Classic Trials work. Overall, there are 8 vehicle classes each with specific rules. Class 8 for example, which my Godfather competes in is for non-production cars that are rear engine, whereas class 1 is for front engine, front-wheel-drive production cars. Class 8 is very competitive and you get to see a vast array of cars from VW buggy’s to bespoke hand built machines.
At a Classic Trial there are a number of stages that the driver has to compete which vary in difficulty. The aim is to score the least amount of points after all the stages have been completed. Along one side of every stage there are markers with a number on them. The bottom marker starts at 12 and the final marker ends with the number 1. The further you get up a stage the lower your score and if you complete a course fully you get zero. The stages are very different and are often made more challenging by deep mud and loose rocks, so it is very important that the driver and co-driver work together to reach the top of the hill. There are also two timed stages which involve some reversing and can sometimes determine the winner if two cars are level on points at the end of an event.
My first experience of a Classic Trial was in January this year when I was a co-driver for a friend at the Clee Hills Trial. I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever taken part in and the sense of achievement when you complete a stage is immense because some of the courses are very demanding. I vividly remember a stage called Hilltop which was unbelievably steep with a huge area of mud at the bottom. Much to our amazement we completed what was probably the most challenging stage and were the only competitors to complete that course. Other stages were less problematic yet still involved a good level of driving skill. After completing all of the stages I was very pleased when I discovered that we had won our class with a final score of 7 and beat my Dad and Godfather who came third!
Classic Trials are immensely enjoyable and is a very unique form of motorsport. Trials take place all over the country and are very easy to take part in. Some trials are more well-known than others such as the Exeter Trial which has the infamous Simmons Hill, a very long a steep course that challenges the very best of competitors. I think you only get a sense of how difficult some trials are until you have done one yourself, which I thoroughly recommend; you won’t be disappointed.
Another good thing about Classic Trials is that you can choose the class that you want to compete in. You can either opt to go for a class 8 vehicle and go against the big boys of the sport or you can have the same amount of fun by using a car from classes 1 or 5 and start from there. I think that when I am old enough I might have a go at trialling myself, but I’ll get a few wins as a co-driver under my belt before I start competing. Next year I will hopefully be able to compete in the Clee Hills Trail again and retain the title.