Building on the success of last season, when Sport7 took control of the series for the first time and triumphantly delivered some of the biggest changes the championship has seen in its forty plus year history, 2018 promises to bring further improvements and even more excitement and entertainment.
Once again, the various individual titles will be decided over eight events running from May through to September, with the Trial des Nations bringing a close to the season proper later the same month.
The big decision is which TrialGP will you visit in 2018? The following round by round guide will hopefully help you decide.
Rnd 1 - Spain, Camprodon - 19 / 20 May - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125
There is no disputing Spain’s place at the head of the current World order, and to have the honour of getting the new campaign underway. The already highly applauded Noassar training area just outside the town of Camprodon, and north of Barcelona really confirmed its credibility to host top level events following an epic opening encounter at the venue last season.
The amazing hillside location offers not only some amazing scenery but also vast scope to create a variety of very natural and not typically ‘Spanish’ sections. With lessons learned from the first edition TrialGP Spain is set to be a sizzling start to the 2018 season and is one not to be missed by any real Trial fans.
With affordable flights to both Barcelona and Girona, you have the perfect excuse for some Spring sunshine.
Rnd 2 - Japan, Motegi - 01 / 02 / 03 June - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125 / TrialGP Women / Trial2 Women
No season would be complete without a visit to the iconic Twin Ring Motegi circuit, and this time TrialGP Japan will make history as it hosts the women for the first time ever, and include all five classes. The sprawling grounds that extend around the two interlinked tarmac circuits not only incorporate some excellent Trial terrain, but also include what can only be described as ‘Disneyland for petrol-heads’. The only flyway event in 2018, a trip to Japan is certainly worth the long journey from Europe especially with its two days of competition after Friday’s Qualification. The onsite hotel adds an extra level of convenience and a tour of the incredible Honda museum cannot be missed.
The Trial itself is very compact and easy to follow on foot, with a mixture of man-made hazards and natural hill climbs, often muddy all being very accessible. The Japanese hospitality and organisation is second to none, and whilst the food is very different to that found in Europe, there is plenty of variety and western alternatives to cater for all appetites. Transfer from Tokyo by hire car or train is relatively straightforward with many European languages spoken throughout Japan.
Certainly a trip of a lifetime, but one that needs ticking off the bucket list.
Rnd 3 - Andorra, Sant Julia - 16 / 17 June - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125
TrialGP Andorra is a regular stop for the series, though this year will see a much changed course and new paddock as the long standing event embraces the new TrialGP era. The steep sided, huge rocky valley that defines the southern part of Andorra is the backdrop for one of the most unforgiving venues in the calendar.
High altitude, hot weather and super gruelling sections have earned Andorra its tough reputation and is a real test for even the top riders. This year’s more compact course stays closer to the town centre of Sant Julia, which will again house the paddock / start area and opening / closing section plus Saturday’s Qualification hazard. With plenty of well-priced hotels close to hand and the added bonus of being able to pick up some tax-free gifts, Andorra is well worth a visit.
Rnd 4 - Portugal, Gouveia – 23 / 24 June - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125
Absent from the calendar since 2015, Portugal makes a welcomed return to the tour having organised events as part of the FIM Trial World Championship since 1999. The small town of Gouveia last hosted a round of the series back in 2004 and has kept its hand in delivering top level off road events having staged a highly successful EnduroGP competition in more recent years.
Fantastic local scenery and hospitality, plus excellent paddock facilities and an absolute abundance of huge boulders means that Gouveia has all the ingredients to deliver a great weekend of action and entertainment not to mention a TrialGP Portugal to remember. The transfer, heading south east from the coast, from Porto airport is a simple affair with the majority of the journey being on motorway.
Portugal remains one of the most affordable countries in Europe and is packed with culture too.
Rnd 5 - France, Auron - 14 / 15 July - TrialGP / Trial2 / TrialGP Women/ Trial2 Women / TrialE
Always a key part of the championship TrialGP France has a great and long history of serving up some of the most memorable events over the last forty years. The 2018 edition breaks new ground as the beautiful ski resort of Auron welcomes TrialGP for the very first time, but only after having hosted a French national event as a prelude to this year’s World status competition.
Sitting in the Alps just north of the famous French coastal city of Nice, the mountains that surround Auron are snow covered in the winter and are the perfect playground for many thousands of skiers. Come summer the lush green hillsides are more obviously covered in a mass of rocky outcrops that will provide the ideal test for the World’s best riders. TrialGP France will include one of the two TrialE (Electric) events scheduled for 2018, the inaugural title being won by Marc Colomer contested over one event in 2017.
With this also being the second round of the women’s series, early indications are that TrialGP France will be one of the most spectacular and scenic of the year and yet another not to be missed.
Rnd 6 - Belgium, Comblain au Pont - 21 / 22 July - TrialGP / Trial2 / TrialE
Having hosted two previous events, TrialGP Belgium returns to the town of Comblain au Pont for what is described as the ‘Monaco’ of Trial. Squeezed into the narrow main street the paddock has a unique and special atmosphere that is added to by the close proximity of the local bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The sections are grouped well in nearby woodland with slippery rocks and steep climbs being the order of the day.
Back in the main street, the final hazard high on the castle topped embankment is really something to be seen. This will be added to this time around with the Qualification section also being built in the same area. Fans can enjoy the local beer plus the famous frites and mayonnaise whilst watching the drama unfold right before them. Adding weight to the occasion the 2018 TrialE winner will be crowned come Sunday afternoon.
Rnd 7 - Great Britain, Silsden - 1 / 2 September - TrialGP / Trial2 / TrialGP Women / Trial2 Women
Trial is really coming home, with the iconic and much revered Addingham mooorside venue hosting a round of the series for the very first time. Overlooking the town of Silsden, which has been home to three generations of the famous Lampkin family, the huge granite boulders that define the hillside location will offer a formidable challenge to the best male and female riders who will gather here come early September.
By far the most compact course of any in the 2018 calendar, TrialGP Great Britain will be a real delight for fans with all sections within a very close radius. With plenty of home interest in all classes, and especially with reigning TrialGP Women Champion Emma Bristow looking to retain her title on British soil, a large turnout is expected in what remains widely regarded as the birthplace of Trial.
With the venue having a limited crowd capacity, the early booking of advance tickets is highly recommended to avoid missing out on what promises to be a huge weekend in the TrialGP calendar.
Rnd 8 - Italy, Pietramurata Di Dro - 15 / 16 September - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125
For the third year in succession TrialGP Italy will bring the championship to its climax, and following its successful series debut last September the purpose-built facility at Pietramurata Di Dro has now proved itself as the perfect venue to host yet another passion filled weekend. The Metzeler Offroad Park, which sits in the shadow of the towering mountain behind it, offers a mixture of natural and man-made sections all within easy walking distance.
Italy very much like Spain has a long and rich history of being home to some of the biggest and best events the FIM Trial World Championship has seen during its forty-four-year existence, and this year’s TrialGP Italy looks set to continue this special tradition. Fly into any of Milan’s three airports before enjoying a weekend full of action and some of Italy’s typically tasty cuisine.
The TrialGP Italy will see the 2018 titles decided in three classes - TrialGP / Trial2 / Trial125 - the latter being the first time this division has had full World Championship status.
TDN - Czech Republic, Sokolov - 22 / 23 September - Men / Women
Whilst the individual championships will have been decided one week earlier in Italy, the real end of season celebrations will take place at the lakeside venue as Sokolov hosts this year’s TDN - Trial des Nations. Contested by more than thirty teams over three classes the TDN is often regarded as the Olympic of Trial.
This year’s inter country team competition will see Qualification for all riders take place on Saturday before both Women’s and Men’s TDN play out together on Sunday for the first time ever in the long history of this team competition.
The waterside paddock and slippery hazards in the nearby wooded areas will again combine well to deliver a memorable weekend. As per last year’s TrialGP Czech Republic man-made sections will be included close to the start / finish area to add further atmosphere to this unique event.
Regular and affordable flights to the must visit city of Prague mean that the ‘2018 closing party’ is sure to feature high on many people’s short list.