THE Northern Irish Motorcycle Trials community came together en masse last weekend at the Auld House in Moneyreagh to hold their 2023 Ulster Championship Awards Evening.

The event, which also saw the transition of the trials committee from the MCUI Ulster Centre to the MRA, was an opportunity for those involved in the sport locally, both young and old to come together, celebrate the year’s achievements and plan for the upcoming Ulster Championship – set to begin on September 16 with the Bann Cup, hosted by the Banbridge Club and held in Finnis.

This will be Round One of the AGA Ulster Championship 23/24 season and will be held over 10 rounds throughout the autumn and winter months.

The evening saw the presentation of awards from the previous 22/23 championship season. Top of the trials roster was Stuart McClurg, winning first place in the Ulster Championship at Expert Elite Level and The Fred Stock Cup. Banbridge’s Josh Hanlon took second with Paul Abrahm in third. Jake Hanlon won the Expert Class and Ards MCC Mansell trophy with Alex Lennox a close second.

Neal Perry earned himself the Semi-expert title and the Bernie Martin Cup, with Kyle Turner taking first place in the Clubman Classic and 450 Cup. Desi Leckey was 22/23 Clubman and AJ Bell Cup winner, with the Sportsman Classic & Vintage Shield taken home by Thomas Crothers.

Michael Adams was the winner of the Sportsman and Billy Brown Cup. The five youth classes were won by Ella Stevenson, Toby Jones, Ollie Gilmour, Mason Crawford and Shane Abrahm respectively. All are up and coming young riders to watch out for and future Team Ireland members in the making.

Proceeds from the evening were raised to help fund this year’s Team Ireland in the Trophy des Nations Trial. The team, made up of Stuart McClurg, Josh Hanlon and Sean Doyle with Johnny Lundy and Adam Harris as minders under the accomplished managerial leadership of Andrew Perry, will represent Ireland this year.

With two previous wins and many podiums under their belt, Team Ireland are set to make their mark at the 23/24 championship which kicks off a few weeks from now in Aron, France.

This coming trials season sees yet another big change as the Ulster Championship will be sponsored for the first time in two decades. The Stanex family and their two AGA Shop Stove & Fire Centre businesses in Belfast and Conlig will be title sponsor for the 23/24 Ulster Championship and will be supported by sponsors for each racing grade.

This injection of local backing is crucial in keeping the huge level of talent found at Northern Irish trials events both male and female, young and old involved and interested.
Trials riding is distinguishable from other disciplines of motorcycling at a competitive level. Fast-paced battles on tarmac or turf are a far cry from the hopping and popping from pedal to brakes at an ever changing rate over variable terrain that are found at a trials event.

The attitude, aptitude, agility and sheer ability required in balancing and bouncing through checkpoints, rivers and rocks set trials riding apart, however like all motorsports there is a shared passion for the machines, the camaraderie and love of the sport.

While most of us relax on cold winter weekend mornings, trial riders are up early, getting down and getting dirty whatever the weather. It is encouraging to see their efforts and passion for the sport rewarded and appreciated and the trials committee are delighted to see this boost to the events they work so hard to maintain.

The trials association wish to thank the MCUI Ulster Centre for their many years of hard work and assistance and the MRA for adopting them so readily. This new chapter for the trials community brings with it a fresh and positive start to the trials events with new incentives for all, and the association wishes the local clubs, riders and Team Ireland an enjoyable and successful season.