2010 Trial World Championship Round4-5

Twin Ring Motegi, Japan - 5-6/6/2010

Edged out from the Podium for Both Days

Fujinami came back to the Japanese Grand Prix. In front of home fans with an enormous support, it is where he has showed some strong performances in the past seasons. This year, he did all he could, but being first to start did not help at all on Saturday to finish even score with Raga, and relegated to fourth decided by the number of single penalty point. On Sunday, Fujinami finished one point short than Fajardo to missed the podium again. It was Fujinami's first time without podium appearance in Motegi since 2006, the year he was plagued by thyroid disease.

Saturday - Round Four

photoThe winner of round three in Portugal, Fujinami was the first starter on Saturday in Motegi. Although dry surface like the section1did not cause a big problem, starting first in Motegi is a tough job to find secure riding lines and to get traction, because many sections are situated at newly carved hills. It was the reason some of the rivals congratulate and were thankful for Fujinami taking the victory on Sunday in Portugal.

Surface condition is not the only reason riders unwilling to be the first rider, but also there is no reference for the first rider. In Motegi, there were some junior riders in front of Fujinami, but their lines were not always same, and the riders in the late group did not provide useful examples for the world class riders. Behind Fujinami, his rivals watched carefully to take every information from his riding.

The first mistake for Fujinami came at the section3 with a full mark. Fajardo and Bou did not miss the bad example, footing once to finish the section. The section4 was also tough, and Fujinami again showed a valuable example for the other. It did not hurt him as bad as the previous section as Fajardo was the only rider to take full advantage to mark clean and the rest of the riders in the top group all failed.

Dissatisfied with his own riding, Fujinami tried to attack the rock at the section4 again within his allotted time to convince himself before moving on to the next section. However he made a similar mistake to the first try, and he ended with a wipe out to crash down to the bottom and damaged the bike. It took about 20 minutes for his team to fix the bike, but interestingly, no one, including some Japanese wild card riders, went ahead of Fujinami. They all 'kindly' waited Fujinami's return. 'Leave no man behind. So, you go first'.

photoFujinami re-rejoined the competition and continued to be a vanguard. Three consecutive cleans from the section5 to 7 were the answer for their treatment, where at the three sections he and Bou were only two who succeeded at Lap1.

At the section8, one of the toughest sections last year with slippery mud covering the surface of the hazard, Fujinami dropped three points. Riders followed the Japanese all bettered the score, as Fajardo rode with two points, then Bou rode with a single point. Raga and Kuroyama managed to mark clean.

Fujinami fought hard at 15 sections to finish 3rd at Lap1 with 31 points. Bou was first building a healthy gap with his 17 points riding. At the time, Fujinami still had a chance to challenge the second spot being five points behind Fajardo. Dabill was fourth with four points down from the Japanese.

At Lap2, Fujinami improved his riding at the section3 and 4 with a single point and two points, respectively. Showing a beautiful clean at the section8, he seemed to be in a good rhythm to make up the position. However he struggled at the end of the lap in the bedrock zone. He dropped five points at the section12 and three points at the next section. In the past seasons when he could not win, he had a tendency to make mistakes through the area too.

At the section15, Fujinami heard the competition report to know he had no chance to catch Bou and Fajardo, though they were still riding behind him at the time. Fujinami also found that Raga was five points behind him. The Spaniard was down to sixth at Lap1 but bounced back strong at the later lap. He also speeded up the procedure as he was afraid of weather getting worse, and he went ahead of Fujinami at the lap.

photoFujinami knew at least he would finish ahead of Raga if he could stay away from a full mark error at the final section. It was a water section with a huge wall at the end. He chose the same line as he took at the previous lap - right side line - where he rode with a single mark. Just about Fujinami was to start to attack the end of the section, torrential rain started to fall. The condition of the section did not change so much as it was already wet, but sudden change of weather must have affected rider's mind. Fujinami fived to conclude the lap. There was another line for the water section, which was the line most of the riders took with better score than Fujinami.

Fujinami finished the day with 56 points total to even score with Raga. They had an equal number of cleans, thus standing was decided by the number of single point error. Raga had two less than Fujinami to push out the local hero out of the podium finish at the very end.

Sunday - Round Five

photoSpending a heartbreaking evening, Fujinami showed up next morning aiming for his fight back. He wasted no time to concentrate on setting up the bike and switched his mind for the new day, and he was to take full advantage of the fourth start on Sunday.

Fujinami told us after the event that he was praised by the team mate at Saturday evening for his performance. Bou has been starting first for the past three rounds, and realized how tough it was to start first from his experience as a follower for the first time on Saturday. He took his hat off to Fujinami's performance in Motegi, where the venue known to be very tough for a vanguard. Bou also knew it was his turn to start first on Sunday.

During the press conference on Saturday evening, Bou said the sections in the middle of the lap - the section6 to 9 in the Hellowoods - were cleanable. On Sunday though, Bou dropped two fives during the area at Lap1.

The weather recovered on Sunday with cloudless sky, but the severity did not change so much from the previous day. It was Raga, who came up strong from the morning on Sunday, and he rode without any full mark error at Lap1. Fujinami dropped five fives at Lap1, a bit little too many it seemed, but Fajardo and Cabestany also dropped the same number of fives.

At the section6, Raga dropped one point. Bou and Fajardo followed to mark clean. It was not supposed to be a tough section, but Fujinami ended with a full mark failure when the face of the hill crumbled down as he rode. Josep, the minder, made a perfect guidance and the rider rode accordingly and perfectly, but there was nothing they could do. Fujinami looked very upset about the incident and losing five points. Jesep tried his best to calm down his rider as they arrived at the next section. Fujinami also knew losing his head did not help, and he regained his composure after taking out his frustration. He then moved on to mark clean at the section7.

photoAs Lap1 was over, Raga was first with 12 points followed by Bou with 21 points. Fajardo and Cabestany were joint fourth with 31 points, and Fujinami was a point behind the Spanish pair at fifth. It was not the way Fujinami wanted to end his home GP, at least he needed to be in the fight for the podium finish.

Fujinami looked concentrated and rode solidly at Lap2. His first five came at the section11. It should not have been a big problem because it was a tough section where everybody except Raga in the top group fived at Lap1. At Lap2, Raga again rode without five marks, and Fajardo rode with one point, which was the big headache for Fujinami's podium hunt.

Nearly the end of the lap, Fujinami knew Raga and Bou were out of his reach. Fajardo and Cabestany were two he was fighting for the final podium spot. Fujinami marked clean at the section15, where he made a full mark error at Lap1, to finish the day with 47 points. He came up two points better than Cabestany, but a single point behind Fajardo to give away 3rd spot to the Spaniard.

Fujinami's home Grand Prix ended with fourth finish for both days. As the first five rounds are over, Fujinami took a single victory with four fourth finishes. It is going to be a tough season for Fujinami.

The next stop is another double header for round six and seven, which will be held at the venue of Scottish Six Days Trial, Fort William in Scotland.

Quote from Fujigas:

I feel bad taking such disappointing results although having a big support from my fans in Japan. The way to decide the starting order has changed this year, and it is true that the previous winner will have a huge disadvantage. Judgmental standard for scoring became more strict, and I experienced some severest scoring in my career too. I know all the calls were fair, but it affected my concentration too. On Saturday, it was my mistake to choose the right side line at the final section. My failure at the bedrock was partly due to my negative thought toward the bedrock hazards, and it led to a bad result in the end. The pressure was overwhelming this time too. I will come back stronger next time to make a revenge.

FIM SPEA Trial WorldChampionship
Round4-5 - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 31
2 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 44
3 Adam Raga Gas Ga s 56 Six Single Marks
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 56 Four Single Marks
5 Kenichi Kuroyama Yamaha 72
6 James Dabill Gas Gas 74
7 Albert Cabestany Sherco 8
8 Tomoyuki Ogawa Gas Gas 98
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Adam Raga Gas Gas 31
2 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 35
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 46
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 47
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 49
6 James Dabill Gas Gas 58
7 Kenichi Kuroyama Yamaha 60
8 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 74
L1: Lap1 L2: Lap2 TO: Time Over Pts: Penalty Point CL:Clean
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa HRC 90
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 82
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa HRC 72
4 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 66
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 65
6 James Dabill Gas Gas 50
7 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 32
8 Dougie Lampkin Beta 30