Although it may not be able to trace its history back as far as other major dates on the worldwide motorcycle sporting calendar, the FIM Trial des Nations (TdN) shares centre stage with similar stand-alone events like the FIM Monster Energy Motocross of Nations (MXoN) and is certainly no less prestigious.
Since 1984 the TdN has brought all the world’s leading Trial nations together on an annual basis for one memorable weekend of competition with the ultimate goal of deciding which country can legitimately claim for the next twelve months to be the global powerhouse of the sport.
On that famous first weekend of TdN competition, held at Myslenice in Poland, a four-man French team comprising Philippe Berlatier, Gilles Burgat, Fred Michaud and his younger brother Thierry – now the Director of the FIM Trial Commission – came out on top ahead of Spain and Italy.
France dominated the event for the next two editions with Pascal Couturier replacing the older Michaud sibling in the team in Piano Rancio in Italy in 1985 and Limberg in Austria in 1986.
It was the turn of Italy to taste victory in 1987 when Diego Bosis, Renato Chiaberto, Carlo Franco and Donato Miglio beat France into second place in Tampere in Finland before the fighting French reclaimed the title the following year with Thierry Girard replacing Burgat for the event in Revnice in the Czech Republic.
An ever-constant presence on the podium for the first five years, Spain’s debut win came in 1989 with Jordi Tarres, Gabino Renales, Amos Bilbao and Andreu Codina narrowly beating Italy at Bertrix in Belgium. While they could not have known at the time, it was the beginning of Spanish domination of the event that – give or take a few faltering moments – continues to this day.
The very next year France made it five wins with a comfortable victory on home ground ahead of Spain at Massais as Bruno Camozzi took the place of Michaud, but for the next six years it was Spain all the way.
With Tarres anchoring the team, Spain swept to victory as far afield as the USA and as close to home as Andorra with the Trial legend joined at various TdNs by Bilbao, Renales, Marc Colomer, Joan Pons, Angel Garcia and Marcel Justribo.
Surprisingly, Great Britain had to wait until 1997 for their first win. After finishing second for the previous four consecutive years, Dougie Lampkin, Steve Colley, Graham Jarvis and Dan Clark finally struck gold on the Isle of Man, but Spain regained the trophy in 1998 at Chiesa Valmalenco in Italy where current FIM Section Advisor Jordi Pascuet replaced Tarres.
With Martin Crosswaite taking over from Clark, Great Britain returned to the top in 1999 on a very close and competitive day at Ettelbruck in Luxembourg before Spain re-established their dominance, first on home soil at Seva and then one year later at La Bresse in France.
After celebrating the new millennium with Marc Colomer, Marc Freixa and Albert Cabestany joining Justribo in the team, in 2001 a very talented – although relatively inexperienced – rider by the name of Adam Raga replaced Justribo.
For the next two years Spain suffered defeats in Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal and Lavarone in Italy at the hands of Team GB with first Sam Connor and then Ben Hemingway sharing the glory, but 2003 was the last time any nation other than Spain filled the top step of the TdN podium.
Apart from 2020 when the TdN was cancelled due to the pandemic, Spain has ruled the roost every year. Raga has gone on to become the most successful rider in the event’s history with eighteen victories, just one win ahead of Toni Bou who was part of a winning team for the first time in 2005.
Along the way the Spanish nucleus of Raga, Bou and Cabestany – whose own personal TdN record boasts fifteen wins – were joined by Jeroni Fajardo who has been part of the victorious Spanish team on thirteen occasions.
The only addition to the Spanish honour role has been relatively recent with Jaime Busto making his first appearance in the competition in 2017 and adding further wins to his TdN record in 2018, 2021 and again last year.
The first-ever FIM Women’s Trial des Nations was staged alongside the men in 2000 when a Spanish team featuring Laia Sanz and Dolores Sanchez triumphed on home soil before Norway’s Kjersty Fla, Linda Meyer and Siri Minken took the title north the very next year.
Merce Ribera joined Sanz and Sanchez in 2002 as the Spanish regained the trophy, but they would not win it again until 2008. During the intervening years Germany’s women enjoyed victory in 2003 with Iris Kramer, who is now an FIM Section Advisor, Ute Kramer and Rosita Leotta and again in 2005 when Sabrina Weindl took over from Ute Kramer.
France won in 2004 thanks to Claire Bertrand, Marilyne Journet and Marlene Satge before Great Britain claimed back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007 with Maria Conway, Donna Fox and Rebekah Cook.
Spain were back on top the following year with Sanz once again uncorking the champagne flanked this time by Sandra Gomez and Mireia Conde before Emma Bristow and Joanne Coles teamed up with Cook to regain the trophy for Great Britain.
That 2005 win by Germany was the last time a country other than Spain or Great Britain has won the FIM Women’s Trial des Nations. Since 2010 the Spanish team have added seven further wins to Great Britain’s five with Berta Abellan, Maria Giro, Neus Murcia and Alba Villegas all featuring on winning teams for Spain while Jess Brown was a member of Great Britain’s side the last time they won in 2018.
The 2023 FIM Trial des Nations takes place on 8-10 September in Auron in France with the action streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO.TV at a cost of €7.99 for full weekend coverage.