2012 Trial World Championship Round5-6

Twin Ring Motegi, Tochigi, Japan 2-3/6/2012

Fourth, and Third on the Podium on Sunday

photoThe Trial Championship continued its expedition and arrived in Japan a week after the Grand Prix of Australia. Last year, for his homecoming rounds, Fujinami left Europe early to do some business tasks in Japan and waited for the other riders to arrive. This year, because of its tight schedule, everybody arrived in Japan generally on the same day.

The Japanese Grand Prix was postponed last year because of the earthquake of east Japan. This year the event was held in June as originally scheduled, and almost all the regular competitors showed up, where some were absent at the last year's event. Records show that Fujinami has used the Grand Prix of Japan as the triggering event to pick up the momentum for the rest of the season. So, it was fortunate for him that the event took place as scheduled at the beginning of the season.

- Saturday -

The problem with the engine and its performance was disappeared once the team started working on the bike in Japan. The cause of the problem must have been the quality of the fuel, as the team Montesa was not the only team but many other also struggled with the problem in Australia.

photoIt was the 13th year for Twin Ring Motegi hosting as the championship venue, and the section setup was considerably altered. All the sections located around the forest of 'Hello Woods', making the event compact to provide an easy access for the spectators. For the competitors, there were many familiar obstacles at the sections.

It was intermittent rain on Friday. According to the weather forecast, it would be cloudy with possible rain on Saturday. It was expected to change for worse to rain, possibly heavily on Sunday. It was a bad news for the competitors, as the severity of the sections in Motegi would go up much higher as the soil and the face of the rocks to become very slippery. It would be cruel for the spectators to follow the riders in the bad weather too.

The weather fortunately recovered in the morning on Saturday. There was even sunshine, and the temperature could go up high. Fujinami picked the eighth starting order at the ballot with all the competitors. Fajardo picked the second, where Bou picked the fifth from the last. Raga and Cabestany were two to end the order. In front of Fujinami, he had fellow Japnese riders, Tomoyuki Ogawa and Kenichi Kuroyama. Although they were close friends, Fujinami tried not to be too friendly and concentrated in the competition. And the friends understood very well that it was not because of the rudeness.

photoThe severity of the opening three sections was low, but it did not mean they were easy. Raga dropped a single point at the section2. Fujinami marked three cleans, but fived at the section4 when he failed to climb the overhang rock. It was an influential mistake as all the other top riders marked clean. There was an usual 'The bedrock zone' for the section5. The area has been used for the section for 13 straight years in Motegi. Although using the same area, the section coordinators did the tricks every year to make it different and challenging. Fujinami rode steadily but dropped five points in the end by touching the section marker. Fajardo also fived in the top riders.

Before starting the ride at the section6, Fujinami halted to have the clutch repaired. The riders starting closely, such as Kuroyama, left the Montesa rider, in turn Bou, Raga and Cabestany caught up. Fujinami had an enough time so he decided to stay with the usual riders for the rest of the sections.

Fujinami dropped three points at the section8, a long muddy slope to climb up, while all the other top riders marked clean. It seemed that Fujinami was having a trouble finding a good rhythm. After Lap1, Fujinami, although it was his usual manner not to hear the competition report, could not avoid watching the TV monitor showing the scores. There he found himself being fifth with four points disadvantage over Raga, five over Fajardo, and seven points over Cabestany. Bou meanwhile dropped only a single point at the final section, already being out of the reach for the rest. Mr.Cirera, the team boss, also talked and pointed out that Fujinami was not riding in his usual way. Ride like he always did in Europe, that became his objective from then on.

photoHe marked clean at the section4 of Lap2, where the section previously he failed. He rode with a single point at 'The bedrock' at his second attempt, too. He had a nice feedback that catching up was still possible, but the rivals also tuned up at their second lap, too.

Fujinami arrived at the section10. Previously, he dropped five points when he used up the time while trying to ride the newly added concrete block. For his second time try, he picked up the pace at the beginning. He dropped three points by footing as a result of trying to ride quickly, but he saved time to be able to finish riding the section. Looking at the scoreboard later, he found that Bou, Fajardo, Cabestany and Raga, all dropped five points at the challenge.

The podium finish was not out of the question for Fujinami as he went into the final five sections, but he dropped five points at the section14 and a single point at the final section to finish the lap with ten points, eight points less than the previous lap. Bou finished with six points only to take the victory on Saturday. There was a final turn over of the finishing order, and Fajardo took the second place. Fujinami moved up a position ahead of Raga, who struggled to drop three consecutive fives in the middle of Lap2, but the Montesa rider was six points more than Cabestany, to be fourth.

- Sunday -

photoThere was no rain in the morning of Sunday with occasional clear sky. Overnight modifications took place to bring the severity up at the some of the sections, but because it was expected to be rain, the modifications were done moderately. Three sections were modified, and a large amount of water was sprayed at the muddy slope in the morning too.

The competitors were allowed to enter the modified sections for the inspection only once before Lap1, but the watered section was not considered as modifying, thus no inspection was allowed. They would see how much they lost the traction only when actually arrived at the section.

Fujinami's objective was the same from the Day1, to ride like usual. He made the first mistake, which was happened to be a full mark error at the section4 when he failed to climb up the overhand rock, just like he failed at Lap1 of Day1. He dropped another five at the following section, as if tracing the scores of the previous day. Dropping one more point at the section7, he went into the second half of the lap with 11 points already. However, his rivals also dropped more points than the previous day; four points for Bou, six points for Fajardo, seven points for Raga, the situation was still hopeful.

photoHis third five came at the section10, where he dropped five and three points on Saturday. Bou followed to ride and also failed. Majority dropped five points at the challenge, while Raga marked clean and Fajardo rode with three points.

As Lap1 was over, Bou was at the top with nine points followed by Cabestany with 12 points. Fujinami marked five consecutive cleans at the end of the lap to finish with 16 points, went up to be third ahead of Raga.

There were three sections to watch for at Lap2 for Fujinami, the section5, 10 and the final section. There were two choices for the challenge at the section5, one was to aim for a clean, to ride the section in a single stroke with a risk to end with a full mark error. Another was a safer ride to separate the challenge into two to halt in the middle to aim for three points. Raga started his ride just before Fujinami to succeed with the three points. At the time, Fujinami thought Raga was the biggest rival on Sunday, thus followed the same way as the Spaniard to ride with three points, too. Fajardo and Bou meanwhile chose the hard way for a clean, but both failed the challenge.

Fujinami dropped a single point at the muddy slope then arrived at the section10. That was a very hard challenge, that all the top riders dropped five points. There were two riders, succeeded to ride with three points at Lap2; Nozaki and Kuroyama.

photoFujinami was confident with the riding at the final section, one of the three tough challenges. All the top riders were capable of marking clean, but by no mean the section was easy. It was tricky that making a small mistake would end with a full mark. Fujinami started his ride ahead of the rivals, to put the pressure. He marked a perfect clean to finish the lap with nine points, 25 points for a total, and went back to the paddock to wait for the other to finish.

Fujinami was alone to watch the TV monitor to check the scores. He was five points down from Bou, four points down from Cabestany at the second place. If the both riders rode within three points at the final section, Fujinami's third would fix. However, if they failed the challenge, results would become totally different as Fujinami and Bou's score would become even with exactly the same number of failures. If that was the case, their riding time would decide the results, and Fujinami finished the day with 3h30m47s, while the teammate, who had one more section to ride at the time already spent 3h40m.

The two Spaniards knew exactly what they needed to do, to finish the lap with a clean. Raga, meanwhile was out of luck at the final section on Sunday to drop five points at both laps to allow Fajardo finishing ahead of him.

photoIt's been a tough season for Fujinami as he had only one podium finish before the Japanese Grand Prix, so it was his second podium of the season on Sunday at his home land. His position in the championship remains the same at fifth, but he is now only two points away from Raga, who stands fourth at the moment. Fujinami is eight points away from Fajardo and Cabestany, who shares the second place. Like in the past seasons, it is interesting to see if his home Grand Prix detonates Fujinami's fight back at the rest of the season.

Quote from Fujigas:

I could not ride like I needed on Saturday. I think I was overwhelmed to be in the home Grand Prix in Japan. Mr.Cirera told me exactly what I needed, to ride like in Europe. Toni kindly asked me if I wanted him to ride closely. I am very happy to be with a great team with warm considerations. The competition became very close in the end, but I lost the chance because I dropped too many points at Lap1. Now I know I chose the wrong lines at the section4 and 10, and it was pity that I made full mark errors at the both sections. If I rode smart to mark clean at one of them, victory was mine. Still, I am happy to be up on the podium at my home Grand Prix. Like it always has been, all the support from the people pushed me to be up there. I will go back to Europe feeling good to be strong for the rest of the season.

2012 Trial World Championship
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 6
2 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 19
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 22
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 28
5 James Dabill Beta 32
6 Adam Raga Gas Gas 35
7 Kenichi Kuroyama Yamaha 37
8 Alexz Wigg Gas Gas 44
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 20
2 Albert Cabestany Sherco 21
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 31
4 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 31
5 Adam Raga Gas Gas 33
6 Daniel Oliveras Ossa 45
7 Tomoyuki Ogawa Honda 48
8 Michael Brown Gas Gas 48
1 Toni Bou 117
2 Jeroni Fajardo 88
3 Albert Cabestany 88
4 Adam Raga 82
5 Takahisa Fujinami 80
6 James Dabill 57
7 Jack Challoner 43
8 Daniel Oliveras 41