2005 Indoor World Trial Championship Round 1

8/1/2005 - FM Sheffield Arena, the United Kingdom

Fuji finished on the podium for his 'Four-Stroke' debut game.

2005 season has kicked off as the first round of Indoor Trial Championship took place at Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The venue is close from Dougie Lampkin's hometown, and he has been dominating the Sheffield round since 1997.

Martin Lampkin, the father of Dougie was in charge of section coordination as previous years. This year, Martin concentrated on reducing the degree of risk of the riders by lowering the height of staircases. However the level of challenge became higher as he created the sections technically more demanding. It worked well, and all the riders except Dougie Lampkin could not complete their qualification lap in time. Fujinami said after the event that it was not only temporally tough, but also physically very demanding.

The Sheffield round saw the debut of 4-stroke RTL250F. Although Fuji knew the potential of the new machine and being satisfied with it from his intensive outdoor test sessions, he was not sure how it would work at indoor event. Fuji was pleasantly surprised the way new machine worked at Indoor, which the performances much better than he expected.

The starting order for the first round was decided according to the final standing of 2004 Outdoor championship. However, the regulation was changed for this year, that for the rest of the season, the riders would take turns the order: unlike previous year where it was decided by a ballot. There was a protest posted by the Raga camp, claiming that Indoor's starting order should have decided by the Indoor Trial standings, but their protest wasn't granted.

The 2004 Outdoor champion Fujinami started from the last for the qualification, and it gave him time to set up his game plan. Watching other riders struggling to complete the lap in time, Fuji decided to take it easy on section 4 and 5; two of the most difficult sections, to preserve his time so that he could take more time on other sections. His plan paid off, and he managed to keep his time-penalty for just 1 point. When Fuji lined up with Lampkin for the double-lane, he had no intension to challenge Lampkin. Fuji had advantages to proceed to the play-off, so he did not want to take a risk to ruin his chance. The last thing he wanted to see was trying too hard and being fived. On the other hand, Lampkin knew that his chance for the play-off was very slim, so as his loyal fans did.

So, Raga, Cabestany and Fuji were three to proceeded to the play-off. Cabestany fived opening 3 sections, so the battle looked to be Raga and Fuji for the victory at first. But Fuji also fived 3 sections in a row from section 3 to 6, so the battle of 2nd and 3rd place became very close. Cabestany and Fuji fought closely in point until section 8. At section 9, it looked to be that Cabestany fived, but for some reasons, he was called for 1. Both Cabestany and Fuji marked clean for the remaining sections, thus Fuji could not turn over the point gap. He had to settle for the 3rd place by 3 points short. It was unfortunate 3rd place for Fuji, but at least he accomplished his goal at the first round, which the goal to finish on a podium every round this year.

The new 4-stroke machine that Fuji rode in UK round was a standard RTL with some modifications with titanium parts and adjustment. Honda is working hard to develop the 4-stroke machine fully ready for the Outdoor season, and because the number of 4-stroke machine is limited, they could not ship the 'works' machines to the UK round. Many people at Sheffield were surprised with the performances of new 4-stroke machine, but Fuji was surprised to know that even a standard 4-stroke machine could perform that well. Honda may bring their 'works' machines to the Indoor round close from their base in Barcelona.

Quote from Fujigas:

I am very disappointed that I had to finish in 3rd where I could finish in 2nd place. Still, I am happy to be on a podium at the opening round of the season. I may have a chance to ride the 'works' machine at the next round. If that happen, things will be different with the way I fight. I set my goal to be at the play-off every round, which automatically means to finish on a podium every round this year. I definitely look forward to it.

Indoor Trial World Championship 2005
Sheffield Indoor Trial
Final Lap
1. Adam Raga GasGas 27
2. Albert Cabestany Sherco 30
3. Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 33
Qualificarion Lap
1. Adam Raga GasGas 11
2. Albert Cabestany Sherco 16
3. Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 20
4. Dougie Lampkin Repsol Montesa HRC 23
5. Marc Freixa Repsol Montesa HRC 27
6. Jeroni Fajardo GasGas 29
7. Tadeusz Blazusiak GasGas 32

Pix: Eric Kitchen (Octagon Esedos)
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