El Trial de España
By Donn Maeda
Since its inception in 1970, the El Trial de España has become known amongst the feet up crowd as the largest non-National event of the year. With the exception of 1990, ETdE has never missed a beat and continues to attract the nation's best trials riders. Created by Fred Belair, the ETdE event has helped promote trials in the United States and has even managed to draw international recognition. Belair's dream was to "provide the basis for an American to become World Trials Champion,"and that hope was realized at the hands of American Bernie Schreiber in 1979. To this day, Schreiber remains the only American to have ever reached the sport's pinnacle. But the El Trial de Espana event continues to live on. And it is Schreiber himself who reigns as the event's winningest rider, having won the trial a whopping eight times. Schreiber dominated the event from '75-79 aboard a Bultaco, and returned to score a pair of consecutive wins aboard a SWM in '82 and '83. Schreiber's last win came in '86 aboard a Fantic. Four-time winner Mark Manniko is next with his most recent win coming in '92. Reigning U.S. National Champion Geoff Aaron was the winner of the '91 running. While San Diego's own Tom Hamann topped the field in '93.
1994 saw the event's second foreign winner. (Irishman Sammy Miller took the win in '72) Spaniard Andreu Codina. A former World Championship Series contender proceeded to spank America's best on the rocks that litter the hills surrounding Perris Raceway.
Now the Marketing Manager for the Spanish based Sherco (Bultaco) factory, Codina has been instrumental over the past years in bringing school age riders from Spain to contest the event. Recent past foreign winners of the event were all protégé’s from the Codina camp, starting with David Cobos, Adam Raga and in 2000, Pep Manzano all of Spain. In 1999 another foreigner tackled the southern California terrain with ease, namely past world champion (’92) Tommi Avahla of Finland. Below, Takahisa Fujinami wields the sword as actually won by Montesa mounted Chris Florin.
Since 1994, El Trial de Espana has helped generate funds for the American Trial des Nations Team. Much like the Olympics of trials, the Trial des Nations pits four riders from each country against one another. Personal differences are put aside for a single weekend. And the four riders work as a team as they defend their country's honor. For 2001 the FIM has granted official country team status to women as well, so subsequent year’s the USA will be fielding both a men and women’s TdN team.
The highlight of El Trial is the afternoon’s tough world-class difficulty sections for the champ riders. Most spectators will find these afternoon sections the most interesting as the field's elite tackle five spectacular sections that will test not only their riding ability, but their courage as well.
The exhibition will be loaded with talent, as the previous days NATC /AMA National Championship Series attracts the nation's best riders.
Cody Webb, shown right, receiving the perennial trophy in 2009.