The winner of Friday’s opening day of action in the 2023 FIM Trial Vintage Trophy competition, Jean-Philippe Lerda (Yamaha) doubled up today at Auron in the French Alps with a commanding display of technique and throttle control that saw him emerge as a clear winner.
With two main pieces of silverware – the FIM Trial Vintage Trophy and the FIM Trial Vintage Motorcycle Trophy – up for grabs over both days of competition for twin-shock motorcycles, Lerda’s polished performance made up for his disappointment last year when he finished fifth.
Winner of both categories at last year’s inaugural event at Monza in Italy, France’s Philippe Berlatier (Bultaco) could not match his compatriot in the FIM Trial Vintage Trophy for best overall performance on a vintage motorcycle after finishing third today behind Franck Olivier (Fantic). However, the five-time FIM Trial des Nations winner did retain the FIM Trial Vintage Motorcycle Trophy for best performance on an authentic vintage motorcycle.
With the twelve period-appropriate sections divided between a dry riverbed and a steep hillside with man-made hazards to start and finish the lap, warm weather and the relaxed atmosphere made for a memorable event that was expertly organised by Moto Club de La Gaude in conjunction with the FIM.
Competing on the blue Trophy route, Lerda backed-up his faultless clean performance yesterday by parting with just a solitary dab on the opening lap today. With results moderated according to riders’ ages, not the age of their machines, when the scores were totalled up it gave him a clear margin of victory.
“This is a dream for me,” said Lerda. “It has been a very enjoyable two days for both me and my family and I am very happy to win.”
After finishing third on Friday, Olivier improved by one position today and his combined total gave him second overall ahead of Berlatier who looked on course to post a perfect performance today until the final two sections on lap two when a mechanical issue resulted in a pair of maximums.
Always a keen competitor, Berlatier’s disappointment at losing the FIM Trial Vintage Trophy was tempered by claiming back-to-back wins in the FIM Trial Vintage Motorcycle Trophy aboard his immaculate 1981 Bultaco Sherpa.
“I made some small mistakes yesterday and with Jean-Philippe losing just one mark today it was impossible for me to win,” said Berlatier. “At the end of today my engine broke which cost me many points, but I have enjoyed myself and the natural sections have been wonderful.”
After losing eight marks on observation today, when combined with his score from Friday it was Eduardo Alvarez Blanco (Fantic) who climbed to fourth overall followed by fellow Spaniard Diego Urreta (Fantic) with Belgium’s Eric Verkenne (Yamaha) slipping two places to sixth ahead of British rider Robin Luscombe (BSA) and France’s Michel Petitdemange (OSSA).
Competing on the less demanding green Support route, France’s Julien Berthier (Bultaco) posted a clean sheet which combined with his perfect score from yesterday proved to good enough to claim overall victory without incurring any penalties.
“It is my first time competing on a vintage bike so to win it is just amazing,” said Berthier. “It has been a lot of pleasure and a lot of fun and everything has gone very well.”
It was a close run result, however, with French riders Pascal Benis (Kawasaki), Thierry Lerda (Honda), Andre Marsens (Fantic) and Alexis Perzinsky (Fantic) – who filled the positions from second to fifth overall – also completing today’s course without loss.
A cocktail dinner tonight officially brings the day’s proceedings to a close before the competition returns to the present day when the 2023 FIM Trial des Nations is staged on Sunday.
All tomorrow’s action from Auron will be streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO-TV at a cost of €7.99 for full weekend coverage with the TdN scheduled to get under way at 08:30 local time.
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