Nice, France 06/04/2012

Ogawa and Fujigas, the team Japan Finished 2nd at the X-Trial des Nations

photoA week after the completion of X-Trial, there was one more international trial competition before the indoor season was over. The X-TRIAL des NATIONS took place in Nice, France. There were five teams that were representing their country to participate, Spain, UK, France, Japan, and Norway. The Scandinavian country took part in the event for the first time.

The team Japan has participated in the past too, but not all the Trial des Nations, which the event taking place almost every year. Mainly their absence was because of a difficulty of finding the riders to form a team with Fujinami, as they had to travel all the way from Japan in the middle of their own championship. This year it was two riders formation instead of three, thus only one rider needed to be picked up. After some talks with the riders and teams, Tomoyuki Ogawa, who is now in charge of the development of the machinery for Bou and Fujinami was selected. HRC allowed the Japanese to ride Fujinami's spare bike in the event as well. Ogawa flew from Japan with small baggages into Spain, the base of Montesa team, and then into Nice with Fujinami. And after the event, Ogawa's busy schedule continued as he had to leave the venue at once, having no time to enjoy one of the most gorgeous resort places of the world.

photoAlthough there were many differences in the way of setting the bike between Ogawa and Fujinami, Ogawa rode the TDN without modifying Fujinami's bike to adjust to his style. He knew change of the setting in a short time would be difficult if not impossible. He brought the handle bars from Japan and changed it as there was a big difference in the height of the two riders.

The competition took place with two laps, and one rider from each country was assigned to ride the whole lap, then the second lap was ridden by another rider. There were six observed sections with seven minutes allotted time and one speed race. The way the speed race took place was a bit different from the way in the regular season, where the two riders start simultanously. There was only one lane for the speed race, and riders shared the lane, one by one, and the classification was decided with the riding time.

The starting order was based on the previous year's standings, the team Spain therefor was the first starter. Team Japan missed the last year's event, and they picked the role as the final starter. The event took place in France in the French style, and one of the French rules was introduced, which was to penalize one point for touching the engine's under-guard to any part of the section. Being the first rider, Cabestany became the first victim of the unfamiliar rule. He put the under-guard on to the section to halt for a moment like he usually did, and he dropped one point. It was his one and the only mistake of the day.

The severity of the sections was low, especially for the Spanish duo. It was lowered intensionally otherwise the sections would be too hard to ride for some of the participants. Team Spain had to fight in the psychological battle.

Dabill, in the team UK, rode steadily at the beginning of the lap to mark four cleans to be ahead of Cabestany at the moment. He then crashed at the section5, breaking his bike and unable to ride the section6 and the speed race as well to drop 15 points.

photoFerrer, who proceeded to the Semi Final at the final round of the X-Trial, rode as the first rider for the team France. He repeated his strong performance to mark all cleans. The team Norway was next and finished with four fives, then the team Japan followed at last. Ogawa marked clean for the first three sections, then dabbed a point at the section4. He marked another clean at the section5, but failed to climb the water fall at the final section. He then marked the second best at the speed race behind Cabestany to drop one point, to finish the lap with seven points.

Then the Lap2 went on with the reverse starting order, thus Fujinami to be the first rider. The riding order of the sections was also reversed except the final water fall section. The severity was brought up higher than Lap1 too. The first ride therefore was the speed race. It was Bou without a doubt to be the fastest. Fujinami was second to drop one point followed by the team UK at third to drop two points. Gubian was not in a good shape to be fifth to drop four points. The gap between the team France and Japan after the Lap1 was five, but it shrank to two after the speed race.

Fujinami needed to cancel the gap-two points-with his riding to finish ahead of the team France. The only thing he could do was, especially since the first starter, he would try his best and wait to see how Gubian would respond. Fujinami marked five cleans, and at the final water fall section, he almost marked clean, too. However, he lost the balance for a moment and dropped a single point. He said he figured it was risky pushing hard for a clean so dabbed early to keep the damage at the minimum. He dropped two points for his lap, thus nine points for the team Japan in the two laps.

photoThere were only team Spain and France, which finished better than nine points at Lap1, so at the moment, team Japan's podium finish was secured. Norway was next to ride, then it was Gubian. The Frenchman could not bounce back and fived at the very first section. It was enough points for the team Japan to move up to the second position ahead of the French team. Gubian dropped six more points to finish the lap with 15 points. The UK team made the last attack to the French team for the battle for 3rd, but Brown dropped five points at the final section and lost the chance. The 3rd spot of the podium went to French duo and they saved face of the host country.

photoIt was an amazing display of the talent of Tomoyuki Ogawa, who competed the event without any practice on the new bike, without adjusting the setting to his. Fujinami also showed the pride and the skills of the top riders' in the X-Trial. The event turned out as very productive for the team Japan. For Fujinami, it was a very good ending of the indoor season, which the season he has struggled in the past. He would prepare for the coming outdoor season with a positive feeling.

Quote from Fujigas:

Before the event, I thought taking 2nd would worth the victory, so I am very happy to finish 2nd. There was a big difference for the prize money too, you know? Probably there was a luck involves, but I had a good X-Trial season this year with many good results. Now it is for me the time for the preparation for the outdoor season. The two categories are totally different, and I am not sure if I can take this rhythm into the outdoor series. But one thing for sure about this year, is that I can go into the outdoor season with a lot better feeling than in the past seasons, where I felt down and low with the many bad results. I feel much better, that is for sure.

1st Lap
1. Spain / Cabestany 1
2. France / Ferrer 2
3. Japan / Ogawa 7
4. UK / Dabill 15
5. Norway / Andersen 24
2nd Lap
1. Spain / Bou  
2. Japan / Fujinami 2
3. UK / Brown 7
4. France / Gubian 15
5. Norway / Pedersen 21
1. Spain 2
2. Japan 9
3. France 17
4. UK 22
5. Norway 35