MOTORCYCLE riders and fans from near and far are preparing to make their annual pilgrimage to the Scottish Highlands for the 2012 Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) on 7th to 12th May, with pre-event activities also taking place from 4th May.
Almost 40 of this year’s contenders will be Scottish with the remaining riders forming the 275-competitor line up travelling from across Europe and even from as far afield as America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The SSDT, which is now in its second century, is held in Fort William and Lochaber every May. Countless entries were received from across the globe this year, which event organisers Edinburgh and District Motor Club eventually whittled down to 275 (the maximum capacity for the event) via a ballot process.
Who better to comment on the wide international appeal of the SSDT than its first ever non-British winner, 59 year-old Yrjo Vesterinen.
Finnish by birth, Vesterinen has lived in the UK since the early 1980s and heads up Apico International, a leading off-road motorcycle parts, accessories and clothing business based in Lancashire, England.
Vesterinen made history when he won the SSDT back in 1980.
Like all serious trials riders, Vesterinen had long been aware of the SSDT before taking part. He made his debut at the event in 1974 at the age of 21. This was also the Finnish rider’s first of many visits to Scotland.
It was not an easy rise to the top for Vesterinen though. For the 11-times Finnish Champion, seven-times Scandinavian Champion and three-times World Champion, winning the SSDT had been the most important thing on his list of unfinished business for quite some time.
Vesterinen had in fact competed in five SSDT events (in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1979) before he eventually claimed his first, and what would be his only, SSDT win in 1980.
“I always struggled with the six days. It wasn’t something that came to me naturally so I suppose that’s why it took me so long to actually win it,” says Vesterinen.
“It is not an easy event to win. If you are a professional trials rider, like I was at the time, the sections [or obstacles] in the SSDT are not particularly difficult, but this means that there is less room for error. The whole event has been won with just one mark lost so if you do make mistakes, or have a bad day, then it can be hard to recover.”
Vesterinen recalls a particularly challenging year: “1977 was my worst year. I think I finished around 15th place, which was a very, very bad result for me. I was so frustrated that I decided not compete the following year.”
Determined not to be defeated, Vesterinen returned to the SSDT in 1979 and took part a further four times before retiring from competitive motorcycle sport in 1983.
Vesterinen’s affinity with the SSDT continues. He makes the journey to the region most years and rode his original winning bike through Fort William High Street last year as part of a special parade to celebrate the event’s centenary.
Last year, Vesterinen and his wife also fulfilled a long held ambition to climb Ben Nevis, which he says was an amazing experience.
To find out more about the Scottish Six Days Trial and spectating opportunities, please visit the website at www.ssdt.org.
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Notes to editors
Motorcycle trials – the sport
Motorcycle trials is a competitive sport that tests riding skill over a course of observed sections (or hazards/obstacles). Competitors must negotiate steep gullies, slippery rock steps, rocky streams or boulder-strewn gorges, and are penalised if they put their feet down to help them to ride the section or if they fail to complete the section in its entirety.
Motorcycle trials are unique in the world of motorsport, with it being the only discipline where the winner is decided on skill alone and not speed.
The Scottish Six Days Trial
The annual Scottish Six Days Trial is managed by the Edinburgh and District Motor Club. It is a particularly challenging motorcycle trials event as it tests competitors’ stamina, endurance, strength and consistency over long distances, with riders completing more than 100 miles and 30 sections on some days of the six-day event. The routes cover a combination of rough moorland, rocky tracks and public roads.
The SSDT started in 1909 and, with breaks during the two World Wars, celebrated its 100th anniversary in May 2011, making it the oldest and also one of the most prestigious motorcycle trials events in the world.
The SSDT is based in the Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands and is traditionally held in May every year. Each day of the trial starts and finishes in Fort William, providing a major tourist attraction for the town.
Admission to watch the SSDT is free on all days. Full event details, including the best spectating points throughout the week, can be found in the official event programme, which will be available to purchase in April 2012.
The Scottish Six Days Trial is supported by EventScotland.
EventScotland is the national events agency.
EventScotland is working to make Scotland one of the world’s leading event destinations. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors.
For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org.
The Year of Creative Scotland 2012 will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage and is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.
More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at www.visitscotland.org/yearofcreativescotland-toolkit
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