The twelfth running of the Laurie Bird Memorial Trial was staged at Butley, Suffolk, and was the final round of the 2018 Eastern Centre Pre-70 Championship. The bumper entry of 104 starters faced four laps of 12 sections set out a wide variety of terrain, with three routes available to challenge riders of all abilities and experience. With little rain in the week prior to the trial and with dry weather on the day, ground conditions were near perfect, with copious amounts of grip to be easily found.
The first group of six sections included some big climbs and drops on a sandy bank, the loose conditions early on took their toll on many riders, but would prove to ease as the day went on. Sections 7 and 8 were set out amongst and over an area of fallen trees, they took few marks all day, again due to the dry conditions and copious amounts of grip being available. The final four sections were set out in woodland, the tight cross cambered turns of section 10 proving to be the most costly for many of the field.
Local rider Daniel Carter (Norton 490) showed complete mastery of his machine, going through the day for the loss of just three marks, making him the best scoring Pre-70 mounted rider on the day, on his way to winning on the hard route in the Pre-Unit class. Carter's win meant that he also won the Laurie Bird Cup, awarded to the best performance by a Woodbridge Club member, his seventh year in a row. Chris Collins (BSA 270) was the sole rider on the hard route in the Unit class. Graham Brown (James 246) was victorious in the Two-Stroke class, with Clive Dopson (Frances Barnett 250) in second place. The highly competitive Twin-Shock class on the hard route was somewhat of a family affair, with a pair of brothers, a father and son and a father and two sons all competing. The father of the two sons, Andrew Arden (Yamaha 250) won out in the end, Tom Norman (Fantic 200) was second and David Woods (Yamaha 320) taking third place.
On the Pre-Unit intermediate route Stephen Parker (Royal Enfield 350) took an early lead over John Lea (Ariel 500), a lead that he steadily extended as the day went on, to end with a comfortable winning margin.
In the Unit class, winner Mark Chapman (Greeves BSA 250) dropped only two marks on his first lap, establishing a four-mark lead over second placed Kevin Bishop (Triumph 230), a lead that would be increased to six marks at the close of play. Two-Stroke winner Bob Clarke (BSA 185) held a comfortable seven-mark lead over Paul Houghton (BSA 185) at the end of the first lap, but despite Houghton putting in two clean laps and dropping just three on his last, he still finished two marks off the lead. In the Twin-Shock class there were a clear pair of front runners, after running close all day, Mark Teager (Fantic 212) lost out by a single mark to winner Andy Nunn (Honda 200), with both finishing well clear of the field.
On the easy route in the Pre-Unit class, Mark Gibb (BSA 600) took an early lead, holding a four-mark advantage at the end of the first lap over Joe Stollery a lead he would extend by just another solitary mark, to top the class at the end of the day. In the Unit class, Colin Black (Triumph 400) and young speedway star Drew Kemp (Triumph 199) were tied for first place, With Black taking the win by way of achieving most cleans. On the easy route in the Two Stroke class a single mark separated winner Paul Neilson (James 197) from second placed Hugo Rose (Sprite 250). There was another tied finish in the Twinshock class, veteran riders Brian Neale (Honda 125) and Trevor Kemp (Yamaha 250) heading the field of nearly thirty riders, on just three marks lost apiece, Neale took the win, again by way of the most cleans rule.To add to all of the above, there were a couple of next generation riders taking part, both eight years old and both on electric bikes. Alfred Eaves, who has been riding our trials for a couple of years, finished the standard adult easy route on a very creditable score of 30. Max Penny, who was attempting one of our trials for the first time didn't fare so well, despite putting in some good rides (cleaning more sections than he dropped marks on) wasn't able to complete the trial
Photos by Charlie Mann (click on an image to enlarge)