Round seven of the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship took place at Stepping Stone Ranch, Rhode Island and saw the prototype Vertigo Combat make its American debut in the hands of factory rider James Dabill who placed seventh and eighth over this weekend’s GP thanks to the kind support of recently appointed North American distributor, Lewisport USA.
This marked a popular return for the series to the USA with the last US Trial Grand Prix having taken place back in 2013 This weekend’s event attracted one of the biggest crowds of the current season as the typically loud America fans expressed their appreciation of the top riders skill with some huge cheers throughout the two days of competition.
Saturday’s Trial was conducted in bright sunshine and hot weather as the riders got their first taste of the huge rounded boulders set in the thick forest close to the start / finish area. Eleven of the twelve hazards used the natural terrain to good effect with only the final section situated near the paddock being a man made test that consisted of some carefully placed logs and rocks.
Even with James riding towards the front of the World Pro class it soon became evident that time was going to be tight and play its part on the opening lap and then, as a knock on effect, subsequently throughout the day. Rushing to finishing his first tour within the allotted two and half hours, Dabill made several errors and also incurred time penalties, as did many of the other top riders eventually placing him in tenth position at the close of lap one.
Despite this early setback, Dabill and his team were not ready to surrender and embarked on a recovery process that would see James climb the order over laps two and three. Now familiar with the hazards, which were slippery in places, Dabill used the smooth power of the fuel injected two-stroke engine to good effect as he drastically reduced his score on the second lap to move up the placings. James saved his best performance until last on day one, with his third and final lap total being his lowest of the day which allowed him to grab a morale boosting seventh spot come Saturday afternoon.
Day two got underway in warm, but cloudy conditions and with only a few small revisions to a course that had proved testing enough just twenty-four hours earlier. Again it proved to be a testing opening lap for James as he was awarded an early five in section three against his minder who was deemed to have interfered with the hazard by the overzealous official. With his concentration broken, Dabill struggled to regain his confidence and ended the lap with work to do once again.
As with the day before, James again rode his way back up the order improving his performance each time on the final two laps to end day two in a respectable eighth place and not far away from a top five position.
Vertigo Sports Team Manager Dougie Lampkin said post-event, “After the last two rounds we were certainly looking for improvement, especially as this was the first time that the Combat had been seen in the flesh in the USA. Overall James has ridden much better this weekend and the bike has gone really well on yet another type of terrain, but unfortunately mistakes on the first laps both days have stopped him finishing higher up the results. That said it has been another solid weekend for the prototype bike and I would like to say a special thank you to the guys at Lewisport for their great support.”
Dabill summed up his American experience by saying. “It’s fair to say neither France nor Andorra were great for me, so it has been good to get back some of my confidence this weekend. The bike felt really good, perhaps the best it has been all year, which shows that we are continuing to make good progress with the on going development. Silly errors on lap one of both days forced me to play catch up and meant I was not able to challenge for the top five which I was hoping to do. I now have two more rounds to try to do the same and will be giving 100% to make sure it is a strong finish to the year for me and the Vertigo team.”
The 2015 FIM Trial World Championship will now enjoy its traditional summer break and resumes in Portugal in early September for the first of the final two rounds of the current series that will conclude in northern Spain a week later.