2009 FIM SPEA Trial World Championship Round 9 - Andorra GP

La Rabassa, Andorra - 28/6/2009

Fourth after Troublesome Event

photoA week after the Italian Grand Prix, round nine of the championship took place in Andorra. Fujinami arrived the venue with his spirit reasonably high after setting three consecutive second places, bouncing back from a nightmare season opener followed by a retirement in round four in UK after an accident. He had high hopes for the first victory of the season but the condition was far from ideal by suffering a series of problems. Fujinami finished fourth in the event but managed to protect the third spot in the championship.

Demanding landscapes and the dry climate are the strong characters in the Andorra round to be distinctive in the championship calendar. The paddock situates about 1,700 meters above the sea level, and the elevation difference between the lowest and the highest section is over 1,000 meters. Higher altitude means less density of air, which results in the less power the engine produces unless an adequate setting. The Montesa team prepared for the round sending a unit for a highland test with Amos Bilbao as a test rider at the time of the Italian round, and they found the appropriate settings.

Fujinami though faced the clutch problem from the early day in Andorra. As we all know, the clutch control is essential for trial competition, especially for Fujinami, where the precise and delicate clutch control is the key for Fuji-Gas riding. He cares very much about the feel with the clutch. They had to pick up parts from the Barcelona camp to exchange the system back to the previous version when they could not find the way to fix the problem in the system recently introduced. Using the previous system, Fujinami still was not happy with the clutch, but they ran out of time to work on the bike, so he had to ride the bike as was. He spent much of his practice session to work with the problem, basically had no time to practice before the competition.

Fujinami tried to reconcentrate for the battle, but another problem struck him while he was moving to the first section. He noticed the noise in the engine, and stop it at once. He pushed the bike to the section and asked the crews to check it up, where they found a small part was broken in the engine. If Fujinami did not stop the engine in time, the whole engine could have destroyed by the wondering part inside the engine. While Fujinami waited for his bike to be repaired, he watched his rivals starting their ride to be left alone. He was at least fortunate in Andorra that there weren't so many participants like in Italy last week, so junior and youth riders did not catch him. Fujinami finally got going and he was about 10-15 minutes behind Raga and Bou. Luckily the pace of other riders in Andorra was not fast, so Fujinami caught up the rivals at the section two.

Just Fujinami thought he could take a deep breath and start to have some battles with the rivals, one more problem struck the Japanese - puncture on his front tire. He must have suffered it while riding the section one. Replacing job itself took a few minutes, but it took long time as the spare front wheel needed to take out from the support bike locating at the top of the mountain. Troubles struck Fujinami like the waves of attacks, pushing him very hard to keep concentration.

There were five water sections at the beginning of the lap, which situated about 1,000 meters below the paddock. Competitors needed to go down to those sections then climb up 1,000 meters again for the section six nearby the paddock. Then they climb up again to 2,000 meters for the dry sections to follow.

photoIt is interesting that a rider in a good condition sometimes cracks the concentration, and a rider having some problems, by contrary, sometimes produces amazing concentration. It was not sure how the problems affected or inspired Fujinami but he rode very strong at the first six section of Lap1 - marking all cleans except at the section five - and he was leading the other at the stage.

However, still having the clutch problem, Fujinami started to struggle a lot when he reached the dry sections. Difference in the level of riding among Fujinami and the rivals became too great. Fujinami rode patiently and tried to achieve the best possible scores as possible. He knew the point gap was getting bigger all the time, so he did not need to ask the team for any info. The team knew exactly about the situation of Fujinami, so they try not to bother him neither. "Mind your own riding", that was the only instruction the team gave Fujinami.

Fujinami came back to the water sections for Lap2, where he showed strong ride at his first visit. But for the second time, he dropped points here and there as his rhythm was already off from his ride at the end of Lap1.

Fujinami finally asked for the info of the rivals before going into the section 14, the section seemed to be impossible for him to mark clean with the problems he had. He knew three point ride was maximum for him with a five point failure was only the option. He then found out that he was in a close fight for the fourth spot with Lampkin and Dabill ahead of him.

photoThe UK rider tried the section 14 before Fujinami and he ended with five points error. Fujinami knew it was his mission not to drop five points there, otherwise his hope for fourth would become fragile. Fujinami struggled but managed to ride the section with three marks. As he completed Lap2, he was barely fourth with 43 points, one point ahead of both Lampkin and Dabill.

A surprise winner in Andorra was Fajardo, who held off Raga and Bou, usual podium finishers. Looking at the score, both Raga and Bou showed decent performance, but for the weekend, Fajardo was just too strong to challenge.

Fujinami's troublesome weekend ended with fourth spot. We know he is not happy with the way things went, but he should be happy with he result, for it could have been a lot worse.

Quote from Fujigas:

I want to congratulate Jeroni's victory from the bottom of my heart. He was just excellent this weekend. I, on the other hand, was miserable. I have the theme now that is to enjoy trial. I tried to enjoy today's trial even I was in a bad condition, but it was not possible. I know my face was twitching. At least I finished ahead of Lampkin and Cabestany, which was the result far from satisfactory but was not disastrous. I should be happy with today's result because I could have finished seventh behind Lampkin and Dabill, or even could have retired again with the engine problem. We have two months of summer break. I will try to refresh myself and the bike to be ready for the final two rounds of the season.

FIM SPEA Trial WorldChampionship
1 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 15
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 21
3 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 23
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 43
5 Dougie Lampkin Beta 44
6 James Dabill Gas Gas 44
7 Albert Cabestany Sherco 51
8 Marc Freixa Gas Gas 59
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 167
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 155
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 113
4 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 106
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 106
6 Dougie Lampkin Beta 104
7 James Dabill Gas Gas 86
8 Marc Freixa Gas Gas 74