2011 FIM SPEA Trial World Championship Round1

Gefrees, Germany - 15/5/2011

3rd by Setting the Best Lap

photoThe aftermath of the disasters triggered by the earthquakes of March 11 is still casting a dark shadow over Japan. Japanese Grand Prix was originally scheduled to be held at Motegi in Tochigi in June, and it looks like it is postponed to August. Apart from the fact that there are condolence and sympathy with Japan among the trial community, things must go on, and the Outdoor trial season started in Germany in the middle of May. The venue held the championship back in 2005, where Fujinami saw his hope for his second consecutive title vanished away. Germany was not a bad place for the Japanese rider though, as it was the country, where he took his first victory, as well as taking his first victory in the Indoor championship.

There have been more rule changes in 2011. Allotted time at each section was extended to one and a half minutes, going back from one minute in the previous season. The minimum weight rule was also introduced to require 65kg for the bike with less than 125cc engine, and 66kg and over for the bike with more than 125cc engine. Weight check took place during the inspection in Germany, and there will be some surprise inspections during the season, and violators will be disqualified. The weight limit became effective in the Spanish championship in 2010, and the all the teams have coped with it, so there was no confusion before the start of the Outdoor season.

photoIt started rain on the saturday evening after the European championship. The change of weather was expected, so there were some countermeasures for rain at the sections. The severity did not appear to be high when inspected in dry, but believed to be very high when wet. Although rain stopped before dawn, the surface did not look to dry out easily as the venue was deep in the forest and some of the sections would not get much of sunlight.

The starting order in Germany was decided based on last year's standings. Thus the world champion Bou was first followed by Raga. Third last year, Fujinami was next to start third. Starting early is not ideal for everybody, however, giving condition, waiting for other riders to mess up the surface was not very nice either. Fujinami occasionally went ahead to start before Raga.

Fujinami's 2011 bike was basically the same as what he had in 2010. There are many improvements with refined parts, but there was no drastic changes as there were in the previous years. Still, Fujinami says there are big differences in the characteristics of the engine mapping and suspension set-up. Originally, the 2010 bike was built with the concept to improve "mobility". The 2011 bike has enhanced "mobility", according to Fujigas.

photoDuring the off season, Fujinami tried to find the good combination and the feel between himself and the bike. He was confident with the feel, so he chose to compete with the mapping for dry condition at his Lap1 even the surface was wet. He knew he needed to be cautious with the bike going wild with slippery surface, but he wanted to use the bike's maximum "mobility". However, it appeared that his choice did not work so well. He fived three consecutive times from the section2 to 4. Dropping three points at the section10, he fived two more times at the end of the lap to finish with a total of 35 points, being even 5th at the time. He found the good feel during practice, but some of the small problems did not become evident until riding the actual competition.

Fujinami did not lose his spirit so much to move on to the next lap. He knew his riding itself was not so bad, and he did not make any huge mistake. He confessed later, though, that he regretted his riding at the section14. There were two steps stair-cases at the section, and he fived with a pitiful mistake. His bike was going wild as he approached to the steps, and he knocked off the marker.

The condition of the surface was improving, drying out as the event progressed. Fujinami switched his mind thinking he had a chance to catch up, and rode strong at Lap2. He also knew that the better condition meant his rivals would ride better. It was also interesting to hear that he selected the wet mode in the engine mapping at Lap2, and he rode all the way with the setting till the end.

photoAt the section3, Fujinami dropped five points as he did at Lap1. Most of the riders including Bou fived, too. Fujinami continued his ride to drop three single point at Lap2 to finish with eight points; the single digit record lap of the day. Fujinami tried to find why the section3 gave them problems he had the review ride after the competition, but curiously enough, he did not find any big problem.

One of his finest rides of the day came at the section12 of Lap2, where all the riders fived at Lap1. It was an upslope with unstable rocks everywhere. Many chose to ride accepting to drop at least three points, even Bou and Raga. Fujinami at the time thought he was battling against Raga, and he wanted to make a decisive go with a strong clean.

Fujinami then asked the team manager, Oscar Giro, for the point situation for the first time. Oscar told the rider that he was one point worse than Cabestany. Instantly Fujinami thought he was fourth following Bou, Raga, and Cabestany. Bou and Raga mostly rode closely ahead of Fujinami, but Fujinami did not know Raga dropped so many points. In turn Fujinami was unaware of Cabestany, who was constantly riding behind the first three riders. Oscar continued after watching his rider calculating to become depressed. "No, you are fighting for the second place". That was a good news, but only thing left for Fujinami at the time was to finish up the lap with three cleans. They were cleanable for many riders, so both Fujinami and Cabestany rode with zero point, so the point gap stayed the same. Cabestany thus took the second place and Fujinami settled for third. Only a single point. Two less points during the two laps would bring the team Montesa 1-2 finish at the season opener,
Fujinami regrets.

photoMeanwhile, Cabestany must have been well aware of the point situation, when he found that Fujinami marked clean at the section12. Three points ride became unacceptable for the Spaniard. He rode desperately rode for a clean, and he managed to go up hill to become one of the two riders to mark clean at the section. It was an interesting fight between the two at the end of the lap.

The next on the calendar is the French Grand Prix with the two days format. The starting order for Day2 will be based on the results of Day1, and they will compete with the sections same as the previous day, more or less. Being the first starter at Day2 won't be a big problem. Fujinami thinks winning at Day1 in the two days format is an ideal situation.

Quote from Fujigas:

Things did not look very good for me at first as I dropped many points at LapI. In the end, I could finish 3rd on the podium, although I was not in the best condition today. I am glad that I proved myself to able to set the single digit best lap, too. It was a shame that I missed the 2nd place by only one point. Cabestany responded with a strong clean at the section12. I am not too disappointed because it was a good battle.

2011 FIM SPEA Trial WorldChampionship
Round1 - Gefrees, Germany
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 32
2 Albert Cabestany Sherco 42
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 43
4 Adam Raga Gas Gas 50
5 Jeroni Fajardo Ossa 58
6 James Dabill Beta 85
7 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 93
8 Michael Brown Gas Gas 96
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 20
2 Albert Cabestany Sherco 17
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 15
4 Adam Raga Gas Gas 13
5 Jeroni Fajardo Ossa 11
6 James Dabill Beta 10
7 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 9
8 Michael Brown Gas Gas 8