The best riders in the world go into battle this coming weekend (8-10 September) at the 2023 FIM Trial des Nations (TdN), staged high in the French Alps at Auron.
An annual competition to determine the world’s leading Trial nation, the event’s history can be traced back to 1984 and features separate classes for premier male and female teams along with the second-tier FIM International Trophy plus the FIM Challenge des Nations for mixed-gender two-rider teams.
Also taking place will be a competition for the FIM Trial Vintage Trophy and FIM Trial Vintage Motorcycle Trophy which will ensure the coming together of different generations of the sport over one memorable weekend.
In the winter a hugely popular ski resort, once the snow melts Auron becomes a paradise for Trial riders. Less than one-hundred kilometres from Nice and the magnificent French Riviera, at seventeen-hundred metres above sea level riders will have to contend with the effects of altitude on both physical fitness and machine performance.
Of course, that’s not the only test facing the sport’s leading riders and the mix of sections split between rounded boulders in a dry riverbed and more angular rocks on the side of a steep, wooded hill will provide a major challenge with a team’s best two scores in each section to count.
Starting as firm favourites in the men’s category, the Spanish trio of Toni Bou (Montesa), Jaime Busto (GASGAS) and Gabriel Marcelli (Montesa) – the top three riders in the TrialGP class of the 2023 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship – will be aiming to extend their nation’s TdN win-streak to nineteen consecutive victories.
Victory will see Bou tie Adam Raga’s record of eighteen TdN wins while Busto is looking for his fifth, but Auron will mark Marcelli’s debut in the competition. This lack of experience could potentially make the twenty-three-year-old the team’s weak link, although his seven TrialGP podiums this year indicate otherwise.
The last nation to defeat Spain in the competition all the way back in 2003, the British team this year comprises Toby Martyn (Montesa), Billy Green (Scorpa) and Jack Peace (Sherco). Of the three, only Martyn competes in the TrialGP class, but Green is the newly-crowned FIM Trial2 World Champion and Peace finished third in the class this year so there is talent in depth.
A strong second last year, Team Italy will once again field veteran Matteo Grattarola (Beta) and Luca Petrella (GASGAS) with Gianluca Tournour (Sherco) taking the place of Lorenzo Gandola. Grattarola’s had another strong year in TrialGP to finish fourth while Petrella ended the season eleventh in the premier class, a position Tournour matched in Trial2.
The home nation fields Benoit Bincaz (Sherco), Hugo Dufrese (GASGAS) and Teo Colairo (Beta) and after narrowly missing out last year will also be aiming for a podium finish, but they will have to contend with the Norwegian trio of Sondre Haga (GASGAS), Mats Nilsen (TRRS) and Jarand-matias vold Gunvaldsen (TRRS).
Spain will also start the day as defending champions in the women’s category with the team of Berta Abellan (Scorpa), Alba Villegas (Scorpa) and Sandra Gomez (TRRS) unchanged from last year, but the contest is likely to be much closer than in the men’s competition.
The main opposition to a fourth straight Spanish win should come from the British team led by Emma Bristow (Sherco) – who has just sewn up her ninth TrialGP Women title – alongside Alice Minta (Scorpa) and Kaytlyn Adshead (TRRS).
Experience and race-readiness could be a big factor with Abellan the only Spanish rider active at FIM World Championship level this season while Minta and Adshead finished fifth and tenth in TrialGP Women in 2023.
The Italian team of Andrea Sofia Rabino (Beta), Alessia Bacchetta (GASGAS) and Martina Gallieni (Scorpa) are also strong candidates to repeat last year’s podium finish with Rabino ranked third in TrialGP Women and Bacchetta second in Trial2 Women.
Other podium challenges should come from Norway’s Mette Fidje (Sherco), Huldeborg Barkved (TRRS) and Seline Meling (Beta) and the German trio of Theresa Bauml (Vertigo), Julie Steinert (TRRS) and Vivian Wachs (TRRS).
Defending the FIM International Trophy, the Czech Republic’s team of Martin Kroustek (TRRS), Martin Matejicek (GASGAS) and David Fabian (Beta) remains unchanged and starts favourite out of the entry of eighteen nations from four continents.
The inaugural FIM Challenge des Nations in 2022 saw Mirko Pedretti (Beta) triumph for Italy alongside Bacchetta and this year the Trial3 regular will join forces with Martina Brandani (Sherco) in a bid to defend the title.
All the action from Auron will be streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO-TV at a price of €7.99 for full weekend coverage. For more details click here.