Spanish brothers David and Felipe Lopez could well have the best jobs in the world.
This pair of ex-racers are responsible for developing Triumph’s new models, riding secret prototypes for tens of thousands of kilometres each year.
With that in mind, they could be forgiven for kicking back and opening a beer when they get home each night, but that isn’t in the Lopez DNA. Instead they head out to the family garage and work on the development of their own special race bike – the Tramontana. Felipe raced Tiger 800 based machine at last month’s Panafrica Rally in Morocco, finishing the gruelling 2000km, five-day event winning four stages in the Maxitrail category and only narrowly missing out on the overall class win when a front spindle broke as he crash landed from a huge sand dune on the final day.
The Tiger Tramontana is not the brothers’ first project. The duo, who are fully qualified design engineers, previously built a custom Scrambler with the same name (Tramontana being a wind that sweeps across the Pyrenees) two years ago, but the Tiger based version is a far more hardcore proposition.
Although the Tramontana looks pretty standard at first glance, the Lopez brothers’ bike has been lightened and toughened to cope with the rough and tumble of an African rally. Taller suspension, a new subframe, bespoke screen and new bodywork and sump guards have been designed to help get what started life as a production adventure bike to the finish line at an event normally tackled by dedicated 450cc enduro bikes. The front end of the bike was also modified to accommodate the instrumentation, the roadbook and GPS beacon.
To prepare for the Panafrica, the brothers trained on a pair of Tiger XCXs and even entered a stage of the Spanish Rally Championship. David started the African event as Felipe’s ‘watercarrier’ on a more standard bike but crashed out on day two, breaking his thumb.
Riding against 15 Dakar regulars, the Tramontana made it to the end of the rally and was within 40km of taking a class win. “That the Tramontana has made it to the end of this extraordinary adventure is a testament to the hard work of everyone here and behind the scenes,” said David. “Felipe and myself feel privileged to have been involved. We have learnt so much, both personally and professionally. All the time, effort, blood and tears have been completely worthwhile and we can’t wait for the next adventure!”
And who knows, maybe we’re looking at an early prototype of what the next production Triumph Tiger could look like?
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