2006 Trial World Championship Round 2

Mortagua, Portugal 9-4-2006 - Attendance: 3,000

Return of the Finest Touch

Fujinami stood at the first position by marking clean at the section six of the first lap, and he never gave away the position until the end to take the victory of the round two of 2006 Trial World Championship. It was a big satisfaction for Fuji after spending a frustrating time with the injury, and wiping out the bad memories of the last Outdoor season.

Fuji's left index finger didn't make a full recovery three weeks after sustaining the injury and only a week from the opening round, where he had a hard time fighting against the pain to finish sixth. Fuji had to skip the new bike test scheduled to run after the Spanish round to return to Barcelona for a treatment for the finger.

He stayed in Barcelona to train other than riding before going to Portugal on Friday. When he rode the bike first time in five days, his finger didn't seem to heal as expected. "It was worse than the previous Sunday." Fuji described the condition before the competition, but he was surprisingly very confident to be up there to fight for the victory.

Overall, the severity of the hazards in Mortagua wasn't too high, where majority was short rock wall covered with mud. Slippery surface was tricky, but it looked to be a nerve battle as riders had small chances to make mistakes. Every penalty point could be decisive.

Fuji had an early disadvantage when he made a one point error at the section two, but he came back strong as he made consecutive cleans from the section three to fifteen. When Raga made errors at the section four and five, and Lampkin made a single point error at the section four and six, Fuji stood on the first position. The winner of the opening round, Bou didn't have a great luck in Portugal making two points error at the section four and fiving at the following section, and he lost the chance for the consecutive victories.

A week ago in Nigran, Fuji was in a big pain and struggled to control the bike with the injured finger. In Mortagua, however, it was hard to tell if he had a broken bone by the way he rode. Fuji used four fingers to operate the clutch most of the time, but he used the index finger only when he needed a delicate touch of clutch control. One of the sections Fuji stood out from the rest was the section eight. It was a long and steep uphill section with running water, and he was the only rider to mark clean on the first lap and later on the lap two as well. While Bou added one point, Raga had three, and Lampkin fived when stuck with a small step, Fuji made a beautiful clean to establish a healthy lead over the rivals. As the lap one was over, Fuji had three points lead over Raga and six points advantage against Cabestany who was third.

Fuji rode well on the lap one, but he knew more than anybody that the second half would be a big challenge for him. It was so a week ago that he began to have a real problem with the finger. Also on the second lap, the rain started to pour harder than the first lap making the condition more difficult.

Lampkin who finished fifth on the lap one with twelve points came back strong on the lap two, showing a flawless ride until the section eight. At the section eight, he almost marking clean too, but footing at the end of the section to add one point penalty. Normally very calm rider from Britain shouted aloud to show his frustration. Fuji too shouted to express his feeling at the section, but it was from his satisfaction as he marked clean.

Fuji is known for a delicate clutch work. The more he beginning to be able to use the finger the stronger he became in the game, and he marked number of cleans in Mortagua. Fuji added two points at the section nine, but Raga also added one point at the section twelve, resulting the gap between two remained the same. Cabestany meanwhile had a very difficult time on the second lap. He had four fives plus two more penalty points, losing the touch of the top two riders. Fuji finished the second lap one point more than Raga, but finished two points better in the overall points to take the victory number one for the 2006 season.

It was a good contrast from the previous round where it was almost a miracle for Fuji to compete, and a week later, he rode strong and took the victory convincingly. Still, it wasn't pain free for Fuji in Mortugal, and he had pain killer treatments now and then to get himself going. Fuji expects there won't be any disadvantage as far as the injury by the time of the US round, which will be held at the end of May. Although he had a bad start of the season, as two rounds are up, he is only four points behind Raga who leads the championship. Fuji believes he is different from what he was in 2005, and could be even stronger than the year 2004 in which he clinched the championship. It is going to be the beginning of the convincing season for Fuji starting at Portugal round? We just have to wait and see.

Quote from Fujigas:

The finger still hurts, but I rode a lot better than last week as I could forget the pain sometimes. I could hardly use the finger on Friday, but it got better on Saturday. On Sunday, I had no trouble moving my finger, and I had no failure due to the injury today. I am happy that the finger is OK now, as well as I could see the evolution of the game. I had no pressure last week, where I was too busy riding with the pain. I am not sure, but such experience might have helped me going onto the next step. I think I am fighting better than 2004. I will keep the good rhythm at the US round and even push it better at my home Grand Prix in Japan.

World Championship 2006
Pos. rider Make L1+L2+TO Pts CL
1. Takahisa Fujinami Montesa 2+5+0 7 26
2. Adam Raga Gas Gas 5+4+0 9 23
3. Dougie Lampkin Montesa 12+6+0 18 24
4. Toni Bou Beta 9+11+0 20 23
5. Jeroni Fajardo Gas Gas 18+5+0 23 20
6. Albert Cabestany Sherco 7+22+0 29 20
7. James Dabill Beta 21+16+0 37 17
8. Jordi Pascuet Gas Gas 23+14+0 37 16
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
Point Standing
1. Adam Raga Gas Gas 34
2. Toni Bou Beta 33
3. Takahisa Fujinami Montesa 30
4. Dougie Lampkin Montesa 30
5. Albert Cabestany Sherco 23
6. Jeroni Fajardo Gas Gas 22

Pix: Hiroshi Nishimaki Click for the Official Results PDF
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