2012 Trial World Championship Round1-2

La Bresse, France 28-29/4/2012

5th and 4th, Out of Rhythm

photo2012 Trial World Championship kicked off in La Bresse, France. This year, four out of seven events in this season will be in the two days format and France's was one of them. To have more two days format probably was in the effort to maintain the number of the rounds with fewer events in the championship calendar. That was the good news for the riders as they like to have more rounds to compete in the season rather than just a few rounds.

FIM introduced the new method to decide the starting order, which was the idea talked about and disagreed by the riders in the off season. There will be a ballot to decide the order with the whole 15 riders to draw the pick. So the order will be totally at random.

The ballot took place on Friday, and Fujinami picked the 15/15, meaning he would be the very first rider. Bou meanwhile picked the 1/15 to be the last, stating about 30 minutes after the teammate. The riders do not like the Random order because they want to have reference from other riders, and they like to stay together especially when they are in a close battle. Huge time difference means the condition can be a lot different, too. Top riders spreading out in the order would give spectators hard time to watch the event, as the spectators have to stay at the certain section for a long time to see their favorite riders, for instance in France, they had to wait half an hour to see both Fujinami and the reigning champion Bou.

FIM also stated that the order the riders picked on Friday would be effective for both Saturday and Sunday. That was going to be a huge problem for Fujinami picking the 15/15. The riders gave their concerns about the new way to decide the starting order to FIM on Friday evening. However, it was decided that the order had to stay at least for the next day's competition.

- Saturday -

So, Fujinami's day started early on Saturday morning for being the first rider in the top class. He had no rival around of him whatsoever, and he decided to make the situation positively to concentrate in his riding. He took his time to inspect the sections carefully in the distance to find the way to conquer the obstacles. His lap started well as he marked clean at the section1 then a single mark at the section2, and another clean at the section3.

Then there was a mistake to regret for Fujinami at the section4 when his foot touched the gate marker. In the previous seasons, touching the marker with other than the bike was not penalized. But the rule became strict, and it was so explained in the meeting the day before. The Montesa rider was well aware of it, but it was difficult to accept at first with an unfamiliar rule.

Fujinami saw Raga was catching him up. The Spaniard hurried his way passing at least five riders to come close to the Montesa rider. There were many junior riders in front of Fujinami, so he could not get away from the Spaniard even he wanted to do so.

He did not feel strong in France, as he had a trouble finding a good rhythm. The engine setting did not give him confidence either, the setting he chose to compensate the high altitude of the venue, which was about 1200 meter above the sea level. Instead of bring up the compression he opted to adjust the engine mapping, but it was not working the way he liked. He changed the mapping for more power at the end of the lap, but an additional power did not improve the situation either. He continued to have an odd feeling with the bike, dropping some points here and there.

When Fujinami completed two laps to return to the Montesa paddock, there was nobody around. Bou was riding about 30 minutes behind the teammate, so the team staff was still occupied, being busy. Fujinami needed to spend time wondering around the finishing area, watching the scoreboard before welcoming the team staff.

Fujinami was sixth in tie with Dabill at the end of Lap1, then moved up a position at the end of Lap2. Out of the podium, but he took the results positively as he deserved the positions considering being out of rhythm for the whole day. "I did not know what I was doing." Fujinami described it later. Before the start of the day, he figured that ten points would be the target line if he wanted to fight for the victory when he found the severity was not so high with an expeption of the section11. His observation was right as Raga took the victory with eight points and Bou followed with ten points. But the Japanese could not ride they way he needed.

At the meeting in the evening, there were more talks about the way to decide the starting order. FIM came up with the decision that the starting order on Sunday will be in the reverse order of the classification on Saturday, meaning, Raga would be the final starter and Fujinami would be fifth from the last. All the riders supported the decision, and it would be a good news for the spectators as they would watch the competition more comfortably.

- Sunday -

photoThe rain was expected sometime in the afternoon on Sunday. Fujinami opted his engine mapping for less power. He went for hard setting for the suspension on Saturday with the temperature reaching 25 degrees, only to find the tire slipping a lot. He changed it to softer setting on Sunday.

Fujinami felt better on Sunday than the day before. He took the result positively knowing he finished fifth even he was way off on Saturday. He was confident to improve the results on Sunday. Starting order would be a lot better on Sunday than being first and alone without any reference from other rider.

Fujinami started the lap with a clean. The severity was brought up at the section2 after the cue stone was taken away, but he managed to mark clean too. When Fujinami arrived at the section3, Dabill, who started just in front of the Montesa rider, was already finished his riding and left the area. Fujinami wanted to stay close with the Spaniard, and because he was confident with his riding at the section-he marked clean on Saturday-he began his riding without inspecting the section to save time. "It was my fault not riding wise but the approach toward riding." His rear tire slid and ended with a full mark error. On Sunday, other riders took the different line, appeared to be the easier one, but Fujinami did not have time to notice that.

He recovered his composure and mark three cleans, then rode with a single point at the section7. Then at the section8, he made another error of touching the marker. That time the front tire touched it when he was turning the direction of the motorcycle. The bike moved forward just a little, but the punishment was huge with a full mark.

He arrived at the section11, one of the most difficult sections of the lap. Before the competition, Fujinami talked with Bou about the lines for the section when they inspected earlier. There were two riding lines to choose from, the one to challenge for a clean was to ride the frontal and the straight line, and the other was to halt in the middle, and it seemed to be safer. Fujinami chose the latter, and he managed to ride with a single point. He thought it was a fine recovery after dropping two fives.

Fujinami dropped a single point at the section2 for his second attempt of the day. At the section3, he chose the riding line as everybody else, and he marked easy clean. He then made eight consecutive cleans until the section10. At the section11, he was a little off from the ideal line and failed the challenge.

Dropping three fives, Fujinami knew he was out of the top battle. He was right about it, and he had five points too many to be out of the podium finish.

Jordi Pasquet is now in charge of the section coordinator replacing Diego Bosis, who passed away suddenly. The severity became lower in general and the competition became intense with every point could shake up the finishing order. Probably that was what FIM wanted, but at the same time, the score sheet tells us that it was still difficult for the lower ranked rider to jump into the top fight. It is too early to know if that is that the way of the section setting for the rest of the season too. As far as the starting order, FIM seemed to be convinced that the way on Sunday was better than a total random order on Saturday.

The riders believe and claim that the starting order, which plays a big part of the competition, should not be decided by the ballot alone. Fujinami is going to be the one unlucky example of the new rule, but he will advocate that the rule needs to change back to the way it supposed to be.

Quote from Fujigas:

Things did not go well at all at the opening rounds for me. It was hard to accept the full mark penalty by touching the marker, because you think you are doing perfectly, and suddenly they will call it as a five. I think I need to get used to the new way. At Lap2 on Sunday, things finally went back to normal for me to do my own riding. I take these results positively, as I was out of the rhythm but still finished fifth and fourth. That was encouraging. We will have a long expedition to Australia and Japan before coming back to Spain. I hope I can set up the fine rhythm within myself for the coming rounds.

2012 Trial World Championship
1 Adam Raga Gas Gas 8
2 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 10
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 22
4 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 22
5 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 35
6 James Dabill Beta 41
7 Jack Challoner Beta 47
8 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 49
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 7
2 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 14
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 14
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 18
5 Adam Raga Gas Gas 18
6 James Dabill Beta 20
7 Michael Brown Gas Gas 40
8 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 50
1 Toni Bou 37
2 Adam Raga 31
3 Jeroni Fajardo 30
4 Albert Cabestany 30
5 Takahisa Fujinami 24
6 James Dabill 20
7 Michael Brown 16
8 Jack Challoner 16