2008 FIM SPEA Trial World Championship Round5,6

Japan GP - 31/5 - 1/6 /2008 Attendance: Sat. 5,000 / Sun. 10,000

Finished 3rd on both days

After taking the first victory of the season in U.S.A., Fujinami returned to home country for the Grand Prix of Japan. The event took place on Saturday in the rain and under the beautiful sunshine on Sunday. Fujinami fought strongly on both days, but after suffering a machine trouble and some regrettable mistakes, he missed the chance for taking the home victories to finish third on both occasions.

photoDay1 - Saturday

Severity of the sections was very high in Motegi. Light rain on Saturday was not a real problem, but continuous rain made the surface very wet and muddy, pushing up the severity even higher, and many sections seemed invulnerable.

There was as always the beautiful man-made stage to start the lap in Motegi. Fujinami, along with many riders marked clean there. But the section two was one of the tough challenges of the day. It was a long straight up hill going up long as they could see. Majority of the riders became the victims of the monster slope, failing in the middle of it, including Raga and Bou. Fujinami though reached to the top with three points, the only rider to conquer the monster, to build precious two points lead at the early stage.

There were many hugh rocks covered by mud at the section three. Very tough challenge for everybody. Fujinami and Raga fived. Bou rode out with three points to cancel Fujinami's point lead.

photoSection four had a little mercy comparing to the previous two. Kuroyama and Nozaki, who fought the world championship together with Fujinami, marked cleans, so as Fajardo. Cabestany rode out with two points. Current top three riders in the championship, Fujinami, Raga and Bou advance together at the end of the field, and Fujinami was the first rider to try followed by Raga and then Bou. At the section, Fujinami marked clean then Raga dropped two points. Bou started lastly and he marked clean. Fujinami and Bou made a four points cushion against Raga, who dropped the position lower than Fajardo and Lampkin at the time.

All the riders fived at the section five, then the section six saw a number of slippery lumbers lying in a complex way. Nobody succeeded before the top three arrived. Many fans around the section pleased to wait and see the section conquered the first time by the local hero Fujinami, who rode out with two points. The Spaniards followed but both fived. That allowed Fujinami building three points gap from Bou and seven from Raga.

Fujinami in turn made a full mark error at the section later, where the difficulty was not too high. Lampkin also fived, but Kuroyama marked clean, and Fajardo and Cabestany rode out with a single mark. Bou and Raga both marked clean without a big trouble. The battle for the victory became intense as Bou took the lead and Fujinami dropped to second with two points, and Raga was third with further two points down.

Fujinami and Raga fived at the huge, almost overhung rock climb at the section eight. Bou managed to ride out by footing once. The gap between Bou and Fujinami became seven points.

The section nine was situated in the 'Hello Woods'. There were a number of rocks lying, and rhythmic 'hop on and off' was required. The slippery rocks made the section very tough. Before the top three arrived, Cabestany was the only rider to ride with three points. Fujinami could not reach the end to drop five points. Shortly later, we found out that he had a machine trouble at the time. He hit the engine crankcase at the section eight, and although it appeared OK, clutch started not to disengage properly. It happened in the woods, so he could not fix the problem. Making the full mark error at the following section was somewhat inevitable for the Japanese rider. Raga rode out the section nine with three points, and then Bou showed a beautiful clean. The gap between Bou and Fujinami extended to 11, and Raga caught up Fujinami too.

Fujinami continued to ride with the bike with a clutch problem at the section ten, and he fived again. Raga too fived so they stayed in a tie, but Bou extended the gap further four points when he rode out with a single mark.

The team brought the parts to the section 11, and the mechanics worked on the bike while Fujinami took time to inspect the section. Repair work took longer than expected, so Fujinami went ahead to inspect the next section too.

He returned to the bike, but the cause of trouble still undetected. The clutch performance did not recover as the rider hoped. He though had to continued his ride on the bike not working properly as three and 1/2 hour time allowance ticking down soon.

The section 11 was the slippery up hill, and the precise clutch work was the key to success. Fujinami showed his guts to ride out with three points. Bou fived and Raga dropped three points, two riders then riding before Fujinami.

All top three dropped five points at the section 12, and the battle proceeded to the famous rock wall sections. The section 13 was a real tough challenge for everybody. They had to hop on to the edge of the big rock from the slippery run-up, but very slippery surface refusing attempts of many riders.

Bou was the only rider to rode out the section; with a single point, and both Fujinami and Raga fived. Fujinami stayed in a tie with Raga, but the point gap to the leader again extended to 17 points.

There were tall rocks being arranged in a tricky way at the section 14. Fujinami arrived last, and there were four riders prevously rode out; Kuroyama, Lampkin and Raga did with three points, and Bou marked clean. Fujinami felt the section wasn't a big problem, but riding with a problem, he fived. As a result, not only Raga built two points lead over the Japanese, but Kuroyama and Lampkin surpassed Fujinami; he became fifth.

There was the usual man-made section for the final section. It was a tough one, and it seemed that Fujinami had to settle with five points. However, the Japanese learned the way to ride the bike quickly, and scored an amaging clean at the end of the lap.

Fujinami showed the damage control as much as possible, but the gap to the leader Bou became 22, and two to Raga. Fujinami also had a single point for over-time.

Before the second lap, the further repair work took place at the Montesa pit. It took about 20? or even 30 minutes. Although the team's dedicated work, the bike never returned to its top shape. Fujinami had no choice but to compete the way it was. Fortunately, the Twin-Ring Motegi provides excellent information system, so Fujinami could get hold of how his rivals performing at the pit too.

Fujinami started very late his Lap2. He improved his riding by adjusting with the bike still having the clutch problem. He rode out with three point at the section five, where Bou and Raga both made five points errors. The highlight of Fujinami for the lap came at the section eight. The section had been invulnerable, where even Bou and Raga both made five points errors on the lap. Fujinami marked clean to become the only rider who conquered the section. Fans loved it. Likewise, though Fujinami's riding wasn't perfect, he showed some excellent riding at some pivotal points.

However after the section nine, Fujinami struggled, just like he did at the previous lap. Those sections in woods were tough for Bou and Raga too, and they too dropped numbers of fives. Fujinami lost his momentum to pursuit the top two, dropping five points at the final section to finish third with six points behind Raga.

Day2 - Sunday

photoIt was a tough battle for Fujimani on Saturday fighting with a clutch problem. On sunday, the condition of the bike returned to its best, so Fujinami expected to have much better results than he did on Saturday.

The organizer made the over-night modifications at some of the sections to lower the severity. The sun came out on Sunday, but it didn't necessary mean the condition was lot easier. The mud became heavy as it half dried, giving a big trouble for the riders too.

Marking clean at the beginning of the lap, Fujinami and Bou cleaned out at the section two too. Raga footed once to drop one point. At the section three, Raga and Fujinami dropped five points, while Bou rode out with three points. Standing at the time then - Bou led Fujinami by two points and Raga was a point behind.

At the section six, where only Fujinami rode out at the Lap1 on Saturday, Raga rode with one point, and Bou and Fujinami fived. Raga then moved up to first with seven points, followed by Bou with eight points and Fujinami with ten points.

photoThe section nine was once again a tough challenge, and Lampkin was the only rider, who succeeded with three points before the top three arrived. Fujinami tried first among the top three, and he made a small error to drop one point. But the battle became very intense when both Raga and Bou dropped three points and the top three lined up with 11 points.

At the section ten, both Fujinami and Bou dropped three points, and two still leading Raga by two points. All three dropped three points at the section 11 so the gap stayed the same. At the section 12, only Fujinami marked clean while Raga dropped two and Bou fived, so the Japanese stood top by four points.

Fujinami dropped a single mark at the section 13, while both Bou and Raga marked clean, thus the point gap became smaller; three to Raga and four to Bou.

Then the section 14, a decisive section for Fujinami came. Numbers of the riders marked clean, so many believed to see Fujinami marking clean too. Fujinami found the new line, aiming for a clear clean, but he failed to drop five points. Bou marke clean, while Raga fived at the very end of the section. That made Raga moved down to third with 26 points, three points behind the top two.

photoAt the section three of the Lap2, Bou made a five points error to give Fujinami three points lead. Fujinami in turn made a five points error at the section six to allow Bou catch up. Fujinami fived again at the following section to move down to third by five points to Bou.

The battle for the victory somewhat settled down at that stage. Fujinami rode carefully for the rest of the sections, but he never had a chance to move ahead of Bou and Raga. Fujinami finished with eight points behind Raga and 11 points behind Bou. Fujinami finished third, the same position that he did on Saturday.

Quote from Fujigas:

At the beginning of Lap1 on Saturday went solidly, so it was regrettable to have a problem on my bike. My team apologized to me that they couldn't fix the bike. We could not figure out what was wrong with the bike, but for Sunday my bike was perfect. I only finished third, the same as on Saturday on the bike with problem, so it was my turn to apologize to my team.

Those full mark errors at the section seven and 14 hurt a lot. At the section seven of the Lap2, I thought the line of what Kuroyama and Lampkin took had a bigger chance of making a single point error. The line I found was risky but I wanted a clean than dropping a point. Toni and Adam marked clean with the other line, but I had a bad feeling about the line as I have fived with the line on Saturday. I think it was my problem that I aimed for a clean rather than a solid ride. For the mistake at the section 14, my bike stood up in the air more than I thought, because my inspection wasn't enough. But, I could keep my concentration for the rest of the sections, so that was at least a good sign.

I learned in Motegi that I still have problems, and I need to solve them for the European rounds to come.

Although, now the chance become slim, I believe I still have a chance for taking the title. I like to thank all my fans for giving me the courage and sensation at the Japanese round, and I feel sorry that I couldn't give them back what they expected me to do.

FIM SPEA Trial WorldChampionship
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 31+39+1 71 11
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 52+45+0 97 6
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 53+49+1 103 7
4 Dougie Lampkin Beta 57+52+0 109 5
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 63+52+0 115 4
6 Kenichi Kuroyama Yamaha 56+62+0 118 4
7 Albert Cabestany Sherco 61+59+0 120 3
8 Tomoyuki Ogawa Honda 64+57+0 121 2
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 23+17+0 40 17
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 29+13+0 42 16
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 23+28+0 51 14
4 Dougie Lampkin Beta 32+25+0 57 9
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 35+46+0 81 7
6 Fumitaka Nozaki Yamaha 54+36+0 90 10
7 Albert Cabestany Sherco 47+47+0 94 7
8 James Dabill Montesa 59+36+0 95 7
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 114
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 99
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 97
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 66
5 Dougie Lampkin Beta 66
6 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 66