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400 entries in gruelling trial

A 1960s NSU Prinz Sports, with modified engine for greater power, takes part in the Exeter Classic

THE Motor Cycling Club last weekend ran its famous Exeter Classic Reliability Trial, as has happened virtually every year since 1910.

More than 400 vehicles of all sorts started at the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, near Yeovil, running through the night until the early hours of the next morning.

The Exeter Trial is a competitive event with a full entry of almost 400 motorcycles, sidecars and cars tackling some of the most demanding sections on Dartmoor in the worst of the winter weather and storms. 

It is also the first event of the 2012 Trials season and the first round of the ACTC classic trials championships. Perhaps uniquely, the route features historic ‘observed sections’ first used almost 80 years ago with some of the machinery in use being of a similar vintage.

In an age when famous international rallies have been reduced to a series of short daytime sprints, the Exeter Trial offers one of the few opportunities to have a true motorsport adventure in the spirit of the halcyon days of the 1920s and 1930s.

In practice this means driving 200-300 miles, starting Friday night and finishing from lunchtime onwards on the Saturday. To qualify for a Gold Medal, competitors in the main event have to complete the route to an exact time schedule and successfully complete the 16 or so observed sections (some of which would stop a Land Rover) and special tests non-stop – and all without any form of outside assistance as trials remains a truly amateur, grassroots form of motorsport. 

The Motor Cycling Club is Britain’s oldest sporting club for motorcycles and cars.  For more than 110 years the club has been organising long-distance reliability trials, initially for motorbikes only. Cars were first admitted in 1906. Today the three long-distance classic reliability trials attract 300-350 riders and drivers on motorcycles and in cars. Visit www.themotorcyclingclub.org.uk 

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