Born in 1903 in Great Britain as the “Six Days Reliability Trial”, the Six Days was the first international event organised under the supervision of the FIM as from 1913, under the name International Six Days of Regularity.
Originally, the Trophy team was composed of three riders from the country they were racing for, but they also had to ride machines manufactured in the country itself and each team had to include one sidecar or cyclecar. As this criteria limited the participation of countries (2 in 1913, 4 in 1920), the Vase d’Argent was introduced as from 1924, with four riders from each country, the origin of the motorcycles being free. A team which lost a rider during the competition would also lose any chance of achieving a good classification.
After the first event held in Carlisle (Northern England), the First World War interrupted all sporting activities (among others), which resumed as from 1920. The venue chosen was the one planned for 1914 – and which was obviously cancelled – the area around the city of Grenoble (France). The competition was won by Switzerland which had motorcycles manufactured on its soil such as Motosacoche and Condor.
The Swiss team won the Six Days in 1921 and 1922 in their country. For 1923 the Swiss Motocycle Union waived its right to organise the event once again by giving it to Sweden and Norway. The Swedish team won the contest, but a strong dispute arose about the interpretation of the rules (see article in the Vintage section.)
Belgium organised the 1924 event which saw the British back on top while Norway clinched the first “Vase d’Argent”. Then from 1925 to 1929, Great Britain won both the Trophy and the Silver Vase (all the events were held in their own country). In 1930, things changed. In a course over French and Italian territories, the Italians arrived at the top for their first official participation in the Six Days, clinching the Trophy while France got the Vase.
In Merano, Italy repeated its victory in 1931, while the Dutch team won the Silver Vase for the first time. But as from 1932, almost all the space was occupied by Great Britain and Germany, in a contest that soon turned out to also represent political prestige. The 1939 Six Days held near Salzburg ended with a double German win but the results were not approved, as the Jury could not meet at the end of the event (the British team had left the contest on the fourth day).
Things resumed in 1947 when Czechoslovakia offered to organise the event and surprisingly won both the Trophy and the Vase; the country was not under a communist regime and the Iron Curtain had not come down – yet. However the situation would soon change, turning into a fight between the East and the West of Europe… Backed by their industry (Jawa, CZ…), the Czechs maintained their advantage and began piling up wins (frequently double wins), being joined in the sixties by the East Germans (MZ and Simson riders).
West Germany, and then Italy were able to stop the series of Czech wins until the early sixties. Great Britain would disappear from the first places after its last win in 1953, but still remain with the largest number of Trophies – 16, which is one more than the Czechs and two more than the Italians.
After the domination of East Germany in the sixties, Czechoslovakia would regain the top of the ranking from 1970 to 1974 losing only the 1973 Silver Vase to the host team, the United States. Then the dispute against Italy and West Germany did not always turn in their favour. After sharing the Trophies, Italy won both in 1981. The Czechs won their last World Trophy at home in 1982, leaving the Silver Vase to East Germany.
The following year it was time for Sweden to score their first Trophy win since 1923, and the first double win – in Wales. Then, from the eighties until today, the fight each year has always been quite balanced. Italy, Sweden, then Finland, France, Spain and the United states have remained at the top. Among the manufacturers taking part in Enduro, the main ones remain from Europe – even if former East European brands such as MZ, Jawa or CZ have disappeared since 1990 – such as KTM and Husqvarna – and also some Japanese like Yamaha or a mixture of both (HM Honda).
The venues have also progressed outside Europe since the 1973 event in the USA: Australia in 1992, USA in 1994, Australia again in 1998, Brazil in 2003, Chile in 2007, Mexico in 2010. Teams from all continents now take part in this event. The Six Days have really gone worldwide.
The Six Days took the name of Enduro in 1980 (the ISDT became ISDE). The Silver Vase was renamed Junior World Trophy as from 1985. The oldest off road motorcycle competition in the world has evolved enormously throughout the years. A World Trophy team is composed of six riders, the Junior Trophy team rides with four riders and the Women’s Cup teams with three. Traditionally, the competition finishes on day six with a Motocross race, where it is the timing that is important, not the positions. As the Enduro riders are very close to each other, the “final cross” plays an important role at the end of the competition. The Six Days generally gather together the top world riders present on the World Championship, but also riders from more modest federations.
There are thus professional and amateur riders competing together for one week as there is no required level to enter the competition. In 2009, twenty-four nationalities represented by 450 riders took the start in the Six Days.