2012 X-Trial World Trial Championship Round1

Strasbourg, France - 13/01/2012

Fourth, but Second was only Two Points Away.

Since the completion of 2011 Outdoor championship, Fujinami has trained extensively for the dry surface. By comparison in the past, he put more weight on working with the wet surface to conquer his weakness. That effort paid off as he captured the championship in 2004, and he has maintained at the top level of the sport for many years. Still, he has struggled in the Indoor series, never found the way to exert his best. That was why he worked hard with the dry surface before the 2012 Indoor season.

The uniqueness of The X trial World Championship is that the series takes place during the off-season for most of the categories in motorsport. That is a delicate period of the time for the professional riders as the contract renewal date is January 1st, usually. For those who will switch the bike at the end of the year, this championship needs to be competed irregularly with two different machines. Fajardo, for example, started the championship on November 2010 on Beta but came back at the second round on January 2011 on Ossa. This year, the series started after the renewal date, so there was no confusion as far as contract issue.

The opening round for the year 2012 took place on January 13, which was coincidentally Fujinami's 32rd birthday. There was no big party nor fancy cake at the paddock to cerebrate, but the whole team was there to concentrate on the competition.

Proceedings were the same as in the previous season. The first battle, the Qualification Lap took place before the audience admitted into the stadium, and the two riders were eliminated . Then the event resumed with the Semi-Final before the eyes of the audience, with the battles of the Double-Lane and the four observed sections to eliminate two more riders. And, the remaining would be the four starters for the Final Lap.

In France, there were five Spaniards: Bou, Raga, Cabestany, Fajardo, and 2011 junior champion Gomez, and a single rider from Japan, France, and UK, respectively; Fujinami, Gubian, and Brown.

At the Qualification Lap, Fujinami marked clean at the section1 as all the top boys, but he made a full mark error at the section2. Cabestany was another rider, who made an error at the section among the top riders, but his costed only a point. As the event progressed, Brown and Gomez accumulated points every section, letting the top six go away. At the end of the lap, Fujinami was in the safe range for the next stage, but he had to battle out to decide the last position against Gubian. The two finished with 11 points even, and they rode an additional section to decide their standing, which the results might be crucial at the end of the day to decide the final standings. Gubian started the tie breaker first, and he rode with a single point. Fujinami was confident to get upper hand of the Frenchman, but he put the front tire on the wrong spot on the lying log, the spot where the outside layer was peeled off to be very slippery. His tire slid away, and he fell down to drop
five points. Thus he finished in the last place.

The next was Fujinami racing against Gubian at the first DL in the Semi-Final, and the Japanese won it. Cabestany won the DL against Fajardo, so as Bou won the battle against Raga. The sections in the X Trial are becoming more and more demanding, and it seems at the moment that everybody except Bou struggle to be in 'make or break' situation. Therefore, a single point less or more at each DL plays a big role for their standings.

At the observed section at the SF, it was Bou, who rode all cleans, performing the class of his own. Raga started with two cleans but made an error at the section3 with one time-penalty. The rest of the riders including Fujinami marked clean at the section1 but fived at the following two sections. Before starting the final section4, the battle became intense as there were four riders within one point separation. The final section was the one also used at the end of the QL. A Double step section made with the construction pipes, which required precise judgement to climb up. Fujinami knew before the start of the SF that the section would become decisive, where the section he failed at his first attempt during his QL.

Fujinami and Cabestany dropped five points at their first ride of the section, but they succeeded for the second attempt. Gubian dropped another five. Raga, who marked clean at the first try, failed to drop five points. Bou off course marked clean at both occasions. All three winners of DL marked clean at the end of the lap, and Bou, Raga, Cabestany, and Fujinami proceeded to the Final Lap.

There were three more DL for each riders at the beginning of the Final Lap. Fujinami lost the first battle against Cabestany but won the next two. After the all the DL were over, Fujinami, Cabestany, and Bou dropped a single point, respectively, and Raga dropped three points after losing all three races.

The first observed section at the FL, the section5 - counting consecutively from the SF - Raga tried hard but dropped one point. Cabestany and Fujinami both fived. Bou marked second clean at the section6 but dropped a point for over-time. Three other riders all fived. At the final section, Fujinami almost lost the balance when turning on top of the rock just before finishing the section. He knew he could correct the situation by hopping and continued to go for a clean, but he did not have enough time for it. He had no choice but making an intensional footing to finish the section, and he completed the lap with 21 points.

Fujinami waited for the other three to see what they would come up with at the final section. Cabestany made an error at the beginning to ride with a single point. Raga also dabbed a point at the beginning and a time-penalty point in addition. Bou started at last and made another clean to complete the show.

The victory, undoubtedly, went to Bou with two points, and Raga was second with 21 points. Cabestany and Fujinami both finished with 22 points, then based on the classification of the QL, third went to Cabestany. Fujinami was fourth to miss the podium appearance.

Looking at the results afterwords and knowing how close the battle at the end, Fujinami had a big chance to finish at least third and even second if he has done a bit differently. Still, Fujinami fulfilled the goal, at least at the opening round, to proceed to the Final Lap and try fighting for the podium finish.

Quote from Fujigas:

Things did not go well for me in the Indoor season every year. I thought I needed to do something to change it because i don't like to build up a feeling that the Indoor competition is my weak point. So it was encouraging that I rode well other than crashing during the QL. My arm is still swollen the day after by the way. I am happy to proceed to the Final Lap and to finish fourth, knowing I was very close to finish 2nd too. I want to promise here to improve my result at the coming round, but I know it is difficult because these guys are really tough. I will try hard to proceed to the Final, then see how it will be. It is at least a relief that I don't have a huge pressure to do well in the Indoor series, so that I can simply enjoy working hard for it.

2012 X-Trial World Trial Championship
Round1 Strasbourg, France
Final Lap
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 2
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 21
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 22
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 22
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 16
6 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 16
Qualificarion Lap
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 0
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 0
3 Jeroni Fajardo Ossa 1
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 6
5 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 11
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 11
7 Micheal Brown Gas Gas 14
8 Alfredo Gomez Montesa 23
1 Toni Bou 25
2 Adam Raga 15
3 Albert Cabestany 12
4 Takahisa Fujinami 9
5 Jeroni Fajardo 6
6 Loris Gubian 5