2007 Trial World Championship Round 5-6

Twin Ring Motegi, Japan 2-3/6/2007 - Attendance: Sat 6,000, Sun 10,000

Podium Finishes at Home Rounds

photoDay1 - Saturday

Twice standing on the podium, Fujinami hasn't taken the victory in 2007 TWC season. Japanese GP in Motegi had been good to him in the past seasons thanks to the massive support from the local fans, so he came back to Japan seeking to score a victory or two to start the countercharge for the championship.

Day1 - Saturday

The sections in Motegi were generally the same as last year, but severity was brought up higher for this year's event. Fuji dropped three points at the section two, the first of many tough challenges consisted of a steep up hill with a short and muddy runner up, while Raga and Cabestany rode with a point better and the championship leader Bou marked a beautiful clean. Fuji dropped first five at the section four by slipping down at the ragged steps near the end of the section. Bou continued to show his strength by making all cleans by then chased by Raga with two points gap.

Fuji built up penalty by making a single point errors at the section seven and eight; the sections added this year, and the challenging rock climb at the section 11. He was third with 11 points at that stage, but the top duo were starting to break away. Raga only dropped two points by footing at the section 13 and 15, and Bou had one penalty point with a single point error at the section 15. When Fuji made five point errors at the section 13 and 15, the gap became decisive.

As the top two running away, the battle for the third place became competitive going into Lap2. Fuji was third, only a point away from Lampkin, two points from Fajardo, and four points from Cabestany. As the chance for winning slipping away, Fuji decided to shift the game plan to protect his podium spot.

Fuji marked clean at the section one but dropping five at the next section. It didn't affect his position, however, because all the riders battling for third fived there on the lap too. Bou on the other hand succeeded to build the breathing room when Raga dropped his first and the only five for the day at the section two.

photoIt was Fajardo who dropped out from the battle for third as he fived at the section four and five and other small mistakes. Lampkin showed a brave performance after dislocating right thumb when crashing at the final section on Lap1, but started to fallback and out of the battle too. He broke the rear wheel at the section 12 on Lap1, and dropped seven overtime penalty points as they repaired the bike, otherwise he could have started his second lap in the clear third.

Fuji then found there was only Cabestany who was battling for third with him. The Sherco rider was riding well on the lap marking all clean except dropping five points at the section two and a single point at the section 10. Fuji fought well and kept the gap by three till the section 11, but allowed Cabestany moving up to third when making a five point error. At the top of the board, Bou too dropped five points; for the first time for the day, at the section 11, but he held the top spot as he had a healthy lead against Raga before then.

Cabestany arrived at the final section with one point lead over Fuji after dropping a single point at the previous section. Starting four minutes later than the Spaniard, Fuji had a time to watch how the rival would do before the attack. It was the tough water fall section, where Lampkin hurt the thumb too, and everybody except Bou and Raga dropped five points on the previous lap. Cabestany tried to break away from Fuji for the final try but again dropped five points. He completed the lap with 17 points; 43 points for the day. Fuji had 39 points before the final section, so he needed to keep the penalty point to three in order to re-capture the podium spot. He rode very carefully and tactically by footing at the beginning to place the bike at the best position for the final part of the section. He took his time to concentrate, and he took off.

Fuji made it! He climbed up the water fall to became one of the only three riders to conquer the section for the day. Fuji dropped three points in turn but that was enough to finish ahead of Cabestany to put himself onto the podium.

Day2 - Sunday

Not being able to win was the one thing, but finishing in a distance third was another thing that made Fuji very frustrated on Saturday. Before starting Day2, Fuji told himself to try his maximum again to show the true Fujigas riding to the Japanese fans. There weren't too many overnight modifications, because despite of Bou's near perfect ride, the severity was very high.

photoThe section two was a big challenge on Sunday too, and Tomoyuki Ogawa was the only rider who succeeded to complete the section before the top riders. Top boys struggled too, as Fajardo, Lampkin, Cabestany, and even top duo on Saturday Raga and Bou became the victims of the section. Fuji though showed a beautiful clean there to build an early lead. However, Fuji struggled at the section four again on Sunday, and he lost the advantage. As the first four sections were over, Raga, Bou and Fuji stood at the top with five points followed by Cabestany with one point gap.

As the 12 of 15 sections were completed, Fuji and Bou were at the top with seven penalty points. Raga was chasing them with a point gap, and Cabestany was fourth with another point gap. At the following section, Fuji dropped three points, but Bou and Cabestany marked clean while Raga dropping a single mark. That put Bou at the top with seven points followed by Raga and Cabestany with nine points. Fuji went down to the fourth place. Fuji dropped another point at the section 14, and arrived at the final section with 11 points. At the section 15, both Cabestany and Fuji dropped a single mark, while Bou dropping two points and Raga marking clean. As a result, Fuji finished the lap at fourth, but being two points down from the third place and three to the top was a lot better situation compared to the previous day's results.

photoAt the section two of Lap2, Raga was the only rider to stay away from the penalty point. Fuji showed a nice clean at the previous lap, but he went for a safe ride to drop one point, as well as Bou and Cabestany dropping a single point there. When the first three sections were completed, the battle for the top became very competitive, as Bou and Cabestany laying second; two points behind Raga, and Fuji was fourth with four points behind the leader. The battle then went into so-called 'psychological game'. Usually, that term comes up when the severity is low. In Motegi however, the severity was high and they were still showing such a close game. From the section four, Raga, Bou and Fuji showed no sign of weakness and making consecutive cleans.

At the final section of the lap and for the day, Cabestany was first in top four riders to start the ride; he fived to finish the day with 22 points. Having the podium finish in his pocket because the rival's mistake, Fuji started his try before Raga and Bou. If he could mark clean and the rests would five, the victory on Sunday would be Fuji's. Fuji took off trying to hop onto the rock, but he was a little too short and fell down to the pond. It was a pitiful mistake at the end of the day, and it was a painful one indeed. He had a big pain on his left hand so didn't notice the real problem at first. When he saw the right hand, one of the fingers was pointing the wrong direction. He was then taken to the medical center, and the doctor said it was broken as soon as he saw the finger. Fuji thought strange because it did not hurt like a broken bone. After a further examination, it was a dislocated finger, not a broken bone. He had his finger immobilized and
appeared on the podium.

photoFuji finished on the podium two days in a row yet missed the victory. He was at a distance third on Day1, but he managed to come back strong on Sunday to fight for the victory. His original plan; making a counter attack with home GP victories, wasn't accomplished, but he definitely made some steps forward. Fuji will stay in Japan for a short time before returning to Europe for his challenge for the mid-season.

Quote from Fujigas:

On Saturday, I had to switch my plan to protect the third position when the gap against the top two became too great. My team constantly informed me how the other were doing, so I adjusted my riding accordingly. When I saw Cabestany fived at the final section, I wanted to give a big go to finish on the podium. I like to thank all my fans, because they gave me the extra power to climb the big rock at the end of the section. I was glad to finish on the podium, but I knew I had to try harder for the next day as the top two got away. On Sunday, I made an early lead at the section two yet I let it go when I made a five points error two sections later. I lost the chance of winning with my small mistakes too. Although the finishing positions were same on Saturday and Sunday, I was able to close the gap on Sunday, so I have a feeling now that victory isn't too far away. It is not going to be the same as the previous rounds for the rest of the season. I am going to
have a further examination on my finger, but I believe the injury is not going to bother me at the next round. I am glad to come back to my home GP and rode in front of Japanese fans. Their warm support got me going stronger too. I am frustrated not to win, but I think finishing on the podium for both days was much better than last year's event. The season isn't over yet, and I will fight back.

2007 Trial World Championship Round 5-6
Twin Ring Motegi
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 1+5+0 6 28
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 4+7+0 11 24
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 22+20+0 42 16
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 26+17+0 43 16
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 24+30+0 54 13
6 Dougie Lampkin Repsol Montesa HRC 23+33+7 63 14
7 James Dabill Montesa 33+36+0 69 7
8 Tomoyuki Ogawa Honda 38+34+0 72 8
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Adam Raga Gas Gas 9+0+0 9 25
2 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 9+2+0 11 25
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 12+6+0 18 22
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 10+12+0 22 20
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 28+24+0 52 11
6 Kenichi Kuroyama Yamaha 27+26+0 53 10
7 Dougie Lampkin Repsol Montesa HRC 32+22+0 54 12
8 James Dabill Montesa 33+26+0 59 15
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 117
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 103
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 88
4 Dougie Lampkin Repsol Montesa HRC 75
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 68
6 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 58