As the dust (or mud) settles after the final round of the 2018 Sporting Trials championship season the sport looks forward to the Gold and Silver Star final, at Frocester in Gloucestershire, the location for the annual Gloster Trial. So, who do we need to look out for; who is in form and who are the favourites to get their hands on the most coveted prizes in Sporting Trials, and what can we expect from this year’s venue?
Set on a big grassy bank with far reaching views towards the River Severn and Wales, this has been a favourite trials venue for many years. The motor cross track that cuts across the site has reduced the scope for sections to some extent but nevertheless this site more often than not gives us some superb trialing. The bank faces North west and very rarely sees sun in the winter usually leaving the ground in ideal trialing condition. The weather will be a factor though because if it remains dry, you need your full range of trickling skills. However, as the tufty grass starts to turn to slime full throttle is the order of the day. If it rains, a much more aggressive approach will come into play and this site can certainly produce some fabulous blasting sections.
The name probably on the top of most people’s lists as favourite for the title will most likely be Ian Wright. Winner of last year’s Gold Star and also winner of this year’s MSA title, Ian will be looking to do the double and top off his season by retaining the Gold Star title. He has been on the top step of the podium at no less than 6 trials this year including the recent Gloster Trial at this site; you would be a brave man to bet against him on the big occasion.
Another contender and arguably the form man in Sporting Trials at the end of this season is John Fack who has won 5 of the last 7 trials. A previous winner of this title he thrives on the big occasion and you would be unwise to think John won’t be there or thereabouts when the scores are added up.
The name Veale appears on the Gold Star trophy for three straight years before Wrights victory last year and Josh and Ian will surely be looking to add to that record. Despite no wins to their name this year Ian has finished 2nd in three of the five trials he has competed in whilst Josh has also been runner up three times this season; and with his new car performing well, will be one to watch.
From the South, notable names to keep an eye on are Jerome and Julian Fack both have won trials in 2018 and both very capable of going well if they get off to a good start. Roland Uglow, although not so active this year, is certainly in with a great chance, recent British Champion, past winner at this venue and runner-up at the 2018 Gloster Trial. And don’t count out our chairman Stuart Beare, he has had a strong season and if the conditions suit him he may power his way into the prizes.
As ever we can also expect to see a strong challenge from the vibrant trials scene in the North. Bryan Walker drove superbly to claim two BTRDA trials wins at the start of the autumn and will be looking to go one better than the “best Northerner” trophy he won last year. Richard Sharpe would have been a name right at the top of peoples list a few months ago, and he may well still surprise us, but an unfortunate incident with a car and a gate (ask him) put him out of action for most of the latter part of the season. I’m sure he will be just happy to be competing again, this event will be only his 2nd event back from injury, so maybe a dark horse and one to watch.
We always look forward to welcoming our trialing neighbours from Northern Ireland. They enjoy nothing more than coming across and spoiling the English party (and then having a bigger party of their own) and have taken the top prize back across the Irish Sea on numerous occasions. Brian Edgar, in particular, seems to love the Gold Star, has won it on more than one occasion and was a close runner up last year; he will be looking to go one better this year for sure.
Just as hotly contested and all part of the same event is the Silver Star. The runners and riders in the Silver are those that don’t qualify for the Gold but the competition is no less fierce. Last year the award was won by Tom McKinney from Northern Ireland, charging his way to victory and a strong Irish contingent will be keen to take the prize back that way again. On this side of the water Ross Bruce will no doubt have his eye on the prize. Ross has been fighting it out in the Live Axle MSA championship this year with Arthur Carroll and Bob Packham and this award will put the icing on what has been an excellent season. However, if you are looking for a good solid bet for the title, then look no further than Nick Speed. Multiple winner of the award already, he always seems to show up well and will no doubt be there or thereabouts.
Otherwise, it will also be interesting to see how the two gents from deepest darkest Cornwall, Colin Flashman and Alan Murton fare this year. They are both capable of good results with Colin especially having had some top 5 finishes in his relatively fledgling trialing career.
With barely two weeks to go preparations are well underway for what we hope to be another cracking event. Both the Gold and Silver Star events have a history of throwing up surprise winners and no doubt a name not mentioned here will make a charge for glory. We look forward to seeing what this year brings and wish all competitors in both the Gold and Silver star the very best.