‘OVER there you have to get used to knowing that 11th or 12th is really good, against 30 people. You want a top ten, but that is quite an achievement to get there. And when you do get there you think “that’s amazing”.’
Thomas Le Breton has just finished his debut season competing nationally in the ACU Belle Trailers British Youth Motorcycle Trials Championship. Having won every youth class in Jersey there was to win, he and his father Stewart decided the time was right to have a go competing against some of the best in the country.
It was everything he could possibly have wished for, pushing his enthusiasm for the sport to new bounds and his ability to new levels.
The teenager finished 11th overall, competing in all seven rounds of the championship, including three top-ten placings. Next year, he will go again in the top junior class of 15- to 17-year-olds, but it is an expensive business and Le Breton is hopeful his progress in the sport can attract sponsorship – not only to help compete but also go to the UK to practise on a better standard of course.
‘It’s really tough over there, compared to here. They all have an advantage of living there,’ the 15-year-old Le Rocquier student says of his competitors.
‘Over here, I don’t have as much passion to ride because I have to motivate myself. I don’t have anyone asking if they want to go out and ride with them.’
His father says he needs to practise with the people he is competing against and to have that experience of riding with British champions and former world champions.
‘The landscapes over there are very different,’ adds Le Breton snr. ‘Over there it’s a lot more varied and there’s a lot more big rocks, while over here it’s just ups and downs and a few tight turns. There’s not much to play with.’
With Le Breton’s invigorated enthusiasm and promise in trials, along with the friendships he has made over in the UK, the family are considering relocating to Cornwall so he can get daily access to practice areas and other riders who can help push him to the next level.
All three top-ten placings came in his last three rides, evidence of his improvement since competing in the championship and getting quality practice under his belt.
‘I realised it was much more down to my line set than my riding,’ he explained. ‘I saw that I can do it, I just need to be a lot more cool when something goes wrong. At the start I used to get quite flustered but in the end I try to forget about it and just move on to the next bit.’
Motorsport runs in the Le Breton family. Thomas first got on a bike when he was four years old and has also competed in sand racing events. His father used to race on four wheels in rallies, sand racing and hill climb events. He was also trials chair for the Jersey Motorcycle and Light Car Club.
Le Breton’s uncle, Stephen, was also involved in rally driving, while, his older sister competed in sand racing and trials.
For the uninitiated, trials is all about skills and technique rather than speed, with motorcyclists having to negotiate a number of obstacles while not touching the ground with any part of their body. Each time that happens, there is a one-point penalty. Those with the fewest penalty points win in competitions.
Competing in the UK was a natural progression having taken himself almost as far as he can go in Jersey. At 14, Le Breton was the youngest rider to compete in the expert class and he recently completed the set of winning every junior class from top to bottom in trials competitions in the Island.
Father Stewart admits it is a funny sport to try to make your way up in, but, for now, they want to enjoy the journey and see where it takes them. There is the potential to move up into enduro, which consists of riding along cross-country tracks on varying terrain against the clock – and where there is the potential for better financial reward.
The journey, for the best part, is self-funded and will continue to be so, but the Le Bretons are hoping that they find a little bit extra to keep him competing against the best in Britain.
The junior has been getting support from elsewhere. UK Trials rider Oliver Smith has been helping him out in practice while also providing him with riding kit from his brand Miro. The JMC & LCC has also helped him get a sports grant from Jersey Sport.
He will continue to compete in Jersey too, but now as a senior, which will also help improve his abilities on two wheels.
‘I ride with all the adults now and I’m focusing on that too,’ Le Breton says. ‘I learn off them.’
But it is the UK where the future now holds for the young man, and next year could be a big one.