Sunday, 15 February 2015

25 JAN 15, The TALMAG Trophy Trial at Hungry Hill

Watching the action on the Hill
with Dave and Teflon
The first big classic competition of the year is The TALMAG Trophy at Hungry Hill in Aldershot.  Specifically, for four-stroke machines there is always a healthy turnout of beautiful heavyweight singles and in addition to the ubiquitous lightweight Cubs/BSAs, there was some rarely seen stuff like Panther, Douglas, NSU and MV Agusta being ridden around.  Fortunately, the freezing overnight conditions relented somewhat and I only had minimal scraping to do on the van when I left at 0730.  I made my breakfast rendezvous with Ronald MacDonald and fuelled up on a double bacon and egg McMuffin on the way to the trial. 

It’s always advisable to get to the TALMAG early and by the time I arrived the car park was rammed with over 170 riders all of whom were rushing to scrutineering and get signed on.  I quickly unloaded the bike and after an examination by the officials I collected my scrutineer's ticket and signed on.  As expected from a committee who run with almost military precision, this was hassle free and I headed back to the van to get changed.  I headed over to the start around 1000 and met up with the rest of the factory who were in fine fettle.  The starter, Mr. Fraser, kindly let The Teflon Don (Matchless G3LC), Ken Wallington (Matchless G3LC), Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5), Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) and I start as a loose group which was a nice touch and settled the nerves. 

The dry conditions were in stark contrast to last year’s wash-out and it certainly drew a larger than normal turn out of spectators which definitely added to the atmosphere.  Sub 1 got us into the mood and a deceptively slippery entry and heavily rooted, steep exit took marks from the unwary.  Sub 2 was much the same but rode well and there was plenty of room to pick a line.  The first group of hill sections were quite rudimentary and even the experts got away lightly here.  Sub 6 was a new section and was plotted over a long adverse camber followed by a steep descent and rise.  The dry conditions really helped here and I imagine this would’ve been incredibly tricky in the wet.  The normal Sub 7 ground was not used this year which I thought was a mistake.  This is a tricky section and is a guaranteed mark taker but the organisers opted for a big uphill blast over slippery roots that rode better than it looked.  Sub 8 was a real cracker; a sinuous affair plotted over the loose, sandy banks of a bomb-hole really made you think and I took a lot of time to look over this section and get my line right.

Not quite Grey Mare's ridge but it was
a costly dab!

Next up we headed for the Hungry Hill group of sections.  Sub 9 was a flat out blast up the hill which caused little problem and this was followed by the Hungry Hill climb.  This year, the ground was very cut up and the loose sand made it difficult to get traction.  This section was the big mark taker and I must confess that I was over confident on the second lap keeping the throttle pinned all the way to the top instead of backing off for the roots.  I guess I got carried away and hit the roots in the final gulley far too fast and had to take the most costly of dabs which cost me the trial.  Sub 11 was another great section and the organisers had really thought about this one laying out a traditional twisty affair over the sandy banks.  The last four Subs were traditional blasts up the steep sandy banks but there was plenty of grip in the dry conditions and not many people troubled the observer’s pencil.

With lots of people going clean the emphasis was on the special test and not being one to wring-the-neck of my bikes I realised I had to pull out all the stops and go for it.  I gunned the bike around and even went through the periphery of bush on the down loop! My 34.6 second lap was the fastest Clubman time of the day which, had I been clean would’ve guaranteed me a consecutive Class D win.  However, in the final analysis it was The Teflon Don who came out on top and took the Class D win this year.  As the builder of both his bike and mine, I think he’s taken another first in being the only bloke to have two of his bikes on the podium!  Well done Nige; a great effort.

Class D (Clubman)

1. Nigel Townsend        Matchless G3LC           Clean         ST 36.3
2. Paul Casling             Matchless G3C             Clean         ST 39.1
3. John Jacka               Matchless G3LC            1               ST 34.6

Dave Arkell                  Ariel HT5                       8               ST 39.6
Ken Wallington            Matchless G3LC            17             ST 43.2

Cleaning the hill on lap 1

Class F (Over 65) was hotly contested this year with several riders going clean however, it was Chard’s John Pym on his beautiful Trifield T90 who got the better of factory stalwart and ace tyre mechanic Pete Collins on his Ariel.  John lost 6 marks to Pete’s 10 however, it was the Stroud man who was fastest on the special test; his 35.8 second effort was a great result.

It was neck and neck in Class G (Sidecars) this year but it was Paul Fishlock & Debbie Merrell (Ariel HT5) who came out ahead of Gloucestershire’s Ian Hannam & Deborah Smith (BSA B40) by virtue of the most cleans rule.  Both outfits tied on 8 marks lost and posted identical special test times of 41.6 seconds.  

Thanks to the TALMAG committee for another great trial this year particularly, the Secretary of the Meeting, Mrs. Pat Gaines and Clerk of the Course, Mr. K Allaway.  Of course, the greatest thanks go to the observers who braved the chilly conditions to mark our cards.

Many thanks to Gary Attfield who braved the cold conditions and kindly supplied the photographs for this report.

It was perhaps a more sombre occasion this year as the great Len Hutty Jnr, who made the TALMAG very much his own trial, was absent having succumbed to cancer late last year.  Nevertheless, his memory lives on and I was very pleased to see the Len Hutty Award for the best Matchless added to the list of silverware this year; A very fitting tribute to Len and a brilliant way to keep the great man’s memory alive.  

Sadly missed this year.  The great Len Hutty Jnr. & his
immaculate Matchless pictured in 2012

Next up:  Golden Valley Classic Rd 1 at Brimpsfield

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