2010 Trial Des Nations

Myslenice, Poland - 12/9/2010

Tough and Fierce for 5th

photoHistorically, the Trial Des Nations takes place a week after the completion of the world championship at the venue close from the final round of the championship. Finishing his own championship in the Czech Republic, Fujinami briefly returned to his home in Spain before meeting the team Japan in Poland for the event.

The team Japan has been one of the favorites in TDN, finishing regularly on the podium with the team of experienced and world-class riders. Their last appearance at the event was in Andorra in 2008, where they finished second behind the team UK. In 2006, despite having a disadvantage with three rider formation, the team Japan fought off Italy to capture third.

For this year, the team Japan was consisted of Fujinami, Ogawa, Saito and Nomoto. Besides Fujinami, Ogawa was the only rider who has participated in the event in the past. It was the decision because of some difficulties for selecting top rankers, and above all, for the purpose of cultivating young riders. Fujinami never even saw a half of the team riders' riding before.

It was not an immediate decision for Fujinami to join the team this year. He knew that participation of TDN could not be possible without donations by all the trial fans in Japan to send the riders to Europe. He believed the people hoped their team would fight for the victory or at least to be up in front. He was not sure the structure of the team was rightly responding people's expectation.

photoWhen Fujinami arrived the venue on Friday, Ogawa and Nomoto were busy setting up the bikes borrowed from Beta. It takes time to make the bike suites with rider's riding style, and it has been one of the obstacles the team Japan had to face at their expedition. It was on Saturday at the practice session, when Fujinami for the first time saw the new riders' riding. He confessed that he underestimated the new riders' skill based on their results in Japan, but it was a pleasant surprise to find out that their technic was pretty good. He began to have a slight hope to fight at the front, at least he believed they were competitive against France or Italy.

Normally the severity is lower in TDN than what we see in the world championship, because of a variety of riders participating in the event including some junior riders. This year however, the severity was brought up higher than usual after some teams switched to the International Trophy class, leaving five competitive teams in the top category. Fujinami found the sections a bit tougher than usual but easy to make mistakes with the sections located at the dirt hill with a lot of boulder rocks.

Nonappearance in the previous year, the team Japan was the first starter in 2010. Fujinami took the role as a vanguard for the team to make things easier and to give better opportunities for his team-mate. However, it was tough even for Fujinami to find lines having the International Trophy class riders riding with the different lines before him. The condition of the sections was very hard to deal with with the muddy swamp and the river hard to tell how deep the water was.

photoFujinami dropped two points at the section1 then one point at the section2. Although he had a different approach than usual trying to go for 'sink or swim' style to find the easy lines, and he had to go back to his team-mate to give them advice each time after his ride, he said it was solely his own mistakes and there was no excuse. At the section2, Fujinami chose the line based on the inspection at the previous day, but there was actually a much easier line, which he could not find. The team dropped 12 points at the section1 and 11 points at the section2, which meant that other three riders followed with all fived at the sections. There was an accident of Nomoto fell completely in the river at the section2 too. Luckily the bike was repaired quickly. After two sections were over, they dropped huge 23 points. The team Japan faced a hard time from the start of the day, and Fujinami's hope was starting to crash down.

As Fujinami's examples did not seem to help his team-mates, the team Japan decided to alter the plan after the section5. Fujinami would start last and let the team-mate making riding line for him. Still, trying to mark cleans to minimize the penalty points was not the only task for Fujinami at the day, but he worked as a double-cast, giving advice like a minder when the team-mates were at the sections. He then rushed back to his bike for his ride. He had a very busy time.

Young riders tended to make mistakes where Fujinami did not think they needed any advice. He understood that it was partly due to being nervous and not being fit in the atmosphere. The minder Fujinami kept encouraging the team riders. It was a similar situation when Josep would do when the rider become sort of panic. "I gave them many directions and encouragements. Maybe too many to annoy them." Fujinami laughted.

photoIt was an interesting fact that before the competition, Fujinami clearly said he was not going to give any support for the rest of the team. He wanted to concentrate in his assignment as a rider not being as a minder nor instructor. However, he knew it would be hard for him to avoid doing what he did once the event got going. So, inside, Fujinami expected to be very busy and tough day before the start of the event. In 2006, in three men team, where Ogawa participated in the event for the first time, Fujinami devotedly supported the team too. It was not something he was asked to do, rather came naturally.

During the event, Fujinami occasionally looked up at the sky when the team riders failed. Although it looked like it was the action to express Fujinami's desperation, but it was not. Fujinami was disappointed by watching his team-mates dropping full marks or footings easily without showing their ability. It was a feeling of "Mottainai." Those ridings without showing their potential did not help the team Japan on that day, but more importantly, did not give them valuable lessons as trial riders either. Fujinami said after the finish that Japanese riders needed to be hungrier. He has seen many European riders being much hungrier than Japanese average riders. Fujinami reviewed that the level of technic was about equal to the team France and Italy, but the result was twice as worse. There were many reasons why the team Japan ended with fifth, for example, being overwhelmed by the atmosphere, being too careful, and not having proper judgement. Fujinami found the ability of the
team riders were competitive, that was why he had a feeling of "Mottainai" and looked up the sky.

photoAnother thing to be point out what missing in the team Japan was working together with the team as one. For example, French team actively encouraged the rider in the section to make him go all the way to the end for good score. It was like almost yelling instead of encouraging, but the rider sensed the tension and inspired the compative spirit to produce the results sometimes beyond one's ability. In the team Japan in contrast, it was only Fujinami, who was encouraging and cheering up the other riders.

So, what will Japan does for next year's. What kind of team they will set up. Will Fujinami participate again? Fujinami said it was important to have the motivation when participate. If the purpose of participation in the event will be the same with the structure of the team of 2010, it will be hard for him to be in it. He wants to ask the people, "What is Trial Des Nation for Japan?"

Quote from Fujigas:

I had many calls after the event, appreciating our effort. I was at FIM in Switzerland and they asked me if there was anything to tell MFJ for me. Many agree that the structure of the team Japan for this year was a tough choice. Dougie told me however, that participation was important, putting what kind of the team we had aside. I am fully agree to the idea and understand the importance of ltivating younger generation, and I like to help as much as I can. At the same time, I am not sure TDN was the appropriate occasion for it. I have a question that if we rightly lived up to the expectation of the fans who kindly donated their money to help sending their national team to the event too. I think it maybe best for me to participate in the event as a manager rather as a rider to be able to take care of young rider more intensively if cultivation of the young guys are important. Still, I cannot guarantee if I think the same way next year. It is easy to imagine that being as a
racer, I will yearn to ride rather than standing on the ground being the manager in the event. One thins I can tell you for sure, it was very very tough Trial Des Nations this year.

2010 Trial Des Nations World Championship
Pos. Nat. T 1L T 2L T Tot. Cl.
1. Spain 0 4 0 10 0 14 118
Toni Bou (Montesa), Albert Cabestany (Sherco), Jeroni Fajardo (Beta), Adam Raga (Gas Gas)
2. Great Britain 0 27 0 25 0 52 89
Michael Brown (Sherco), James Dabill (Gas Gas), Dougie Lampkin (Beta), Alexz Wigg (Beta)
3. Italy 0 75 0 48 0 123 52
Matteo Grattarola (Sherco), Francesco Iolitta (scorpa), Fabio Lenzi (Montesa), Daniele Maurino (Gas Gas)
4. France 0 76 0 71 0 147 45
Jerome Bethune (Beta), Benoit Dagnicourt (Beta), Alexandre Ferrer (Sherco), Loris Gubian (Gas Gas)
5. Japan 0 132 0 100 0 232 32
Takahisa Fujinami (Montesa), Tsuyoshi Ogawa (Beta), Yoshiaki Nomoto (Beta), Akito Saito (Honda)