When the 2018 FIM Trial World Championship gets under way this coming weekend with TrialGP Spain at the beautiful and spectacular Camprodon venue, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees close to the border with France, it will be a landmark event for series promoter Sport7.
It was here just over twelve months ago that, surrounded by breath-taking views, the British promoter unveiled a radical new format which over the course of the 2017 season refreshed and revitalised the sport at the very highest level. The cream always rises to the top and, of course, Toni Bou - Repsol Honda won last year's opening battle for the premier TrialGP crown on his way to an unparalleled eleventh World title, but the most comprehensive shake-up in Trial's forty-three-year history had begun.
The biggest change for 2017 was qualification to determine start position for the main competition the following day. In Camprodon fans flocked to the section and an online audience numbering tens of thousands watched live on the Red Bull Motorsport Facebook page as Jaime Busto - Repsol Honda took an historic victory with a clean ride and the fastest time to book his place at the back of the eighteen-man field.
Determined not to rest on its laurels, Sport7 has reworked the format and in 2018 each class will have two Qualification sessions. Just as last year the starting positions for Q1 will rest on a ballot, but the results will then determine starting order for Q2 over the same section ninety minutes later with this second timed attempt deciding riders' running order for the main points-paying competition.
Even if you are not fortunate enough to be there in the flesh, you will still be able to watch the Q2 drama unfold live on Saturday from 3pm CET as new presenter Amy Kilhams brings you all the action on the TrialGP Facebook page.
Another big change last year was the elevation of Trial2 to full World Championship status which gave what had up until then been viewed as a second division class a new status and heightened credibility. For 2018 the same upgrade has been applied to the eighth-litre class for the series' youngest riders who will begin their campaign for the new FIM Trial125 World Championship crown at Camprodon.
"The Sport7 team is both ready and excited for TrialGP Spain and to be opening the 2018 season," says Jake Miller, the man at the helm of Sport7. "As a group of people we learned so much during our initial year in charge and have been working hard over the closed season to ensure that we bring even more improvements to the championship this time around."
"The venue at Camprodon is Trial paradise with some of the best natural hazards you can ever imagine. With plus strong entries across all three classes - TrialGP, Trial2 and Trial125 - which for the first time ever all carry full World Championship status, means everything is in place for a great start to the campaign."
"The action will kick off on Saturday with not one, but two qualification sessions with Q2 deciding the starting order for Sunday's Trial and come Sunday afternoon we will have a better idea of who will be the main contenders across all three classes. Roll on the weekend!"
Click here to view the pre-entry list for TrialGP Spain.