King Harold Reigns Super-eme
Sunday the 18th of July 2021 saw the 4th edition of the Moto Trial NI Super Trial, with the cream of Ireland’s Trials riders competing over 10 tough and technical sections in front of a sizeable crowd, it was sure to be a good show.
The action was just as hot as the weather as qualifying got proceedings underway. In the Expert class it was Jay Pyper who set the fastest time of 26.03 seconds to bag himself the advantage of going last in the running order. While in the Elite class, Stuart McClurg and Harold McQuaid could not be separated after their first runs, both setting a time of 22.94 seconds. Harold stepped up his game in the re-run though with a time of 21.40 seconds.
Section 1 proved a difficult opening for the Expert class with Gareth Andrews, Stuart Hanlon, Ryan Sailes and Robert Andrews all taking maximums, Ricky McKee fought the bike out through the ends cards for a 3 but it was Jay Pyper, taking full advantage of seeing everyone else’s mistakes, who flew up the tricky climb that had caught everyone else out to take a fantastic clean and get a huge cheer from the crowd. The Elite class, although riding a harder line, made light work of the opener with Josh Hanlon, Stuart McClurg and Harold McQuaid all going clean.
Section 2 didn’t pose the Elite rider’s any problems either, with all 3 again going clean on the infamous ‘big rock’. It was a mixed bag however for the Expert class with Stuart Hanlon and Ricky McKee posting the best score with a single dab apiece, Jay Pyper and Robert Andrews taking 2 dabs and Gareth Andrews and Ryan Sailes both failing at the fearsome final step.
Section 3 was regarded by most of the riders as the easiest on the day. The Expert riders were now beginning to get into their stride with two 2’s, two 1’s and 2 cleans from the six riders. In the Elite class however, a mistake from Josh Hanlon cost him a maximum, Stuart McClurg had a single dab on the tricky final undercut step, only Harold McQuaid mastered the section to take the slenderest of leads.
The newly placed rocks formed section 4 and again it proved to be difficult for the Expert class with all bar Jay Pyper taking maximum scores. Jay was able to negotiate the huge boulders for a 3 mark loss extending his lead. The Elite class saw superb cleans from both Josh Hanlon and Harold McQuaid while Stuart McClurg failed the 2nd of the 3 steps at the end of the section.
The re-modelled ‘Bear Pit’ was the location for section 5 and Robert Andrews had the best ride in the Expert class for a single dab, all the other riders scored 3 marks apart from Ricky McKee, who ran out of time before he could make the end markers. In the Elite class Harold McQuaid came closest to conquering the awesome quadruple step, sumping the bike on top of the final rock but not just far enough to make it over the top as his Gas Gas pivoted sideways and Harold had to bail out.
After a short break for riders and spectators to take on some much needed fluids it was back for round 2 in the Bear Pit. Ricky McKee took no chances with the time to post the best Expert score of a single dab, Ryan Sailes and Jay Pyper both took 2 dabs, Robert Andrews couldn’t match his first lap performance with a 3 and Gareth Andrews and Stuart Hanlon both removed the marker on the final step to take maximum scores. After 3 failures from the Elite guy’s it was all to play for on lap 2, Josh Hanlon was first to tackle the quadruple step… and tackle it he did to a roar from the crowd as he forced his Beta over the top and out for a clean. Stuart McClurg was up next and the crowd were clapping encouragement before he’d even set off and again he managed to the Sherco to the top, that was 2 cleans and the pressure firmly back on Harold who rose to the challenge and fired his Gas Gas up and over the rocks to match his 2 competitors, simply awesome to watch.
Back to the boulders of section 4 and this time it was Stuart Hanlon who turned on the style in the Expert class with a superb ride for a single dab to everyone else’s maximum score. Stuart McClurg made up for his first lap failure with the only clean on lap 2, Josh Hanlon took a single dab and Harold McQuaid had an uncharacteristic 5 as he missed the rear brake on the tricky drop, falling awkwardly but thankfully uninjured.
The rock slab of section 3 again proved trickier than it looked and Ryan Sailes was the only rider to post a clean score, the other 2 podium contenders in the Expert class, Robert Andrews and Jay Pyper, both posted single mark scores. Josh Hanlon and Harold McQuaid matched each other with one mark apiece with Stuart McClurg on a 2 mark loss.
Back to the ‘Big Rock’ for the penultimate section and it was Robert Andrews who showed some form of old with a single dab ride while all the other Expert riders failed the final step. Jay Pyper was very lucky not to be collected by his Beta as they both landed back at the bottom of the rock. After 3 cleans from the Elite guys’ on lap one everyone was expecting the same again but it was not to be as both Josh and Stuart lost grip and failed to make the climb up the side of the rock. Once again though, Harold showed grit and determination, urging the Gasser up for a single dab, a ride that proved decisive.
Finally, back to the first section but this time, just to be a little different, the section was to be tackled in the reverse direction. Both classes were undecided so it was still all to play for. First Expert rider to attempt the section was Gareth Andrews and he took a five mark penalty on the tricky final climb. Ricky McKee and Ryan Sailes both managed single dab efforts while Stuart Hanlon and Robert Andrews both went clean, Robert’s clean meaning that the final rider, Jay Pyper, needed to post no worse than a 3 to take a debut Super Trial victory. The cool headed teenager did just that, losing only 1 mark to seal the win. In the Elite class Josh Hanlon and Stuart McClurg both went clean to keep the pressure on Harold McQuaid but it was too little too late and Harold matched their score to take his second Super Trial Victory.
The day was rounded off with the OHA Motorsport Dash for the Cash, with the top 2 riders in each class going head to head through the qualifying section to set the fastest time. Robert Andrews set the pace with a time of 25.69 seconds but again Jay Pyper pulled out a stunning ride to complete the section in 20.94 seconds. In the Elite shoot out Josh Hanlon put down a time of 19.28 seconds which everyone thought would be impossible for Harold to beat, but again Harold eclipsed it with a time of 17.94 seconds to make it a clean sweep for the day.
A gallery of photo’s from the event can be found on our Facebook page – https://bit.ly/3fsbdqR
A great video of the first lap of the trial is also on YouTube, thanks to Pete Moore – https://youtu.be/fe2ZvD0_zQI