2013 X-Trial World Championship Round1

Sheffield, UK 5/1/2013

Out of Form to Finish Sixth

photoThe 2013 Trial World Championship has kicked off with X-Trial at the traditional venue for season opener, Sheffiled, after a year of absence. It is the venue very close from the home of Dougie Lampkin, the house he spent his childhood.

Although Dougie has retired from the trial world championship during the last season, the tall UK man was present at the arena, as he was in charge of section coordination at Sheffield this year, taken over the role from his father Martin. In general, the sections in Sheffield were compact and technical, a good contrast from the Spanish style being tall and furious. Dougie was well aware of many crashes and injuries in the Indoor championship, so he set up the sections to bring up safety.

-- Qualification Lap --

photoThere were seven nominated riders, the Spanich quartet of Toni Bou, Albert Cabestany, Adam Raga, and Jeroni Fajardo, Takahisa Fujinami, Jack Challoner, and the French rider Alexandre Ferrer, the Junior Champion in 2012. The UK riders James Dabil and Michael Brown as well as the Italian Matteo Grattarola participated as the wild cards, and that made the total of ten participants in Sheffield.

The Qualification took place in a different style, where all the riders were designated their starting section and the order to ride the rest of the sections. There were five sections, and five riders started their riding simultaneously. It was different and a good show for the spectators, but at the same time, it was the way difficult for the competitors to gather information of the other riders' riding.

photoFujinami was designated to start his Qualification from the section5. His lap did not start sparklingly as he footed four times and finished with five points. His riding did not improve a lot for the rest of the sections, but he rode moderately with two cleans, another five, and two points to finish the lap with 12 points. It was Bou, who showed the clear advantage with two points, being away from a fierce and close battle with seven riders finished within the range of four points. The second place Fajardo finished with nine points, Cabestany with ten points, Dabil with 11 points, and Fujinami finished tie in points with Ferrer with 12 points. Raga finished seventh with 13 points, and he was uncharacteristically missed the chance for the ride at the next stage. The Spaniard made a full mark error at the section4, where the section was not a real problem for the rest of the riders.

Fujinami and Ferrer needed to ride another section to decide their finishing orders in the Qualification, as it could be decisive at the end of the evening. Fujinami rode six seconds slower than Ferrer, but he grabbed the fifth place after the Frenchman made a mistake by footing once.

-- Semi Final --

photoThe Semi Final started with the Double-Lane as usual. There were two Mercedes-Benz vans parked side by side as the obstacles with ramp plates. The competitors were told not to hit and damage the vehicle otherwise the cost of repair would be deducted from the starting money. Since no rider damaged the vehicle, it became a mystery that the instruction was just one of those UK jokes. The three winners at the Double-Lane were Fujinami, Cabestany, and Bou.

At the first observed section at the Semi-Final, Ferrer made a full mark mistake at the beginning of the section. Fujinami had no problem at the beginning of the section, but footed twice at the U-turn point. It became obvious that he was not in the right rhythm, which was already suspected from his riding during the Qualification. He later told us that he could not ride the way he planned during the section inspection, and he lost composure a little. The fourth place among the Indoor specialists in 2012 was a very encouraging result for Fujinami, and he was looking forward to competing in the X-Trial this year. He had a high spirit when we went over to UK, but when the competition got started, things did not turn out as he thought, a lot worse than his expectations.

photoAt the following section, Fujinami started after watching the Frenchman marking clean, but he fell down when jumping onto the steel pipe. Dabill also became the victim of the tricky section. It turned out though, the section was not very difficult, as everybody else except Fajardo marked clean.

Fujinami thought there was no trouble with the staircase at the entry of the section3, but again he failed. Ferrer and Dabill were other two who failed at the section. With only one more section to ride, Fujinami had one point disadvantage against Ferrer and Dabill. The Japanese rider hoped to turn around the situation with his riding at the section, but his plan did not work out. The final section of the Semi-Final was a tough challenge for everybody, and Fujinami as well as Dabill and Ferrer all dropped five points, thus the point gap stayed the same. It was the end of the evening for Fujinami at Sheffield.

Among the top riders, Cabestany marked clean with one point over time at the section, Fajardo dropped two points with two points more for over time penalty. Bou, by the way, not only marked clean at the final section, but he rode all cleans at the Semi-Final. Ferrere finished tie in points with Dabill, but the classification of the Qualification combined, he had to settle with fifth, joining Fujinami as a spectator for the rest of the evening.

photoSo the final battle of the evening was competed by Bou, Fajardo, Cabestany and Dabill. Bou and Cabestany showed their skills at the technical sections to finish with a single digit, and tie in points. After the classification of SF combined, it was Bou, who took the victory. Fajardo followed to finish third and Dabill finished fourth.

There is a new rule, Non Stop Rule, to be introduced in the Outdoor series this year. It is a bit hard to adjust riding from the training for the Outdoor to the Indoor competition, since the stopping or even going backwards are allowed in the Indoor series. Fujinami hopes to have a good riding at the next round in Barcelona. Having a indoor event in France a week before should help too.

Quote from Fujigas:

I was completely off the rhythm this time. My condition was not bad at all, and I was looking forward having the opening round in UK very much. I felt as if I was at my very first indoor event, and I had a hectic time all evening. I was not nervous, so I don't know what was wrong with me. Ferrer beat me this time, but I was surprised after watching his strong riding when he made his wild card participation last year. I need to be sharpen up otherwise he will beat me again. I will try to come back strong in Barcelona.

2013 X-Trial World Trial Championship
Round1 Sheffield
Final Lap and Semi Final
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 6+0
2 Albert Cabestany Sherco 6+1
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 12+6
4 James Dabill Beta 16+16
5 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 16
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 17
Qualificarion Lap
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 2
2 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 9
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 10
4 James Dabill Beta 11
5 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 12
6 Ferrer Alexandre Sherco 12
7 Adam Raga Gas Gas 13
8 Micheal Brown Gas Gas 14
9 Jack Challoner Beta 18
10 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 18
1 Toni Bou 20
2 Albert Cabestany 15
3 Jeroni Fajardo 12
4 James Dabill 9
5 Alexandre Ferrer 6
6 Takahisa Fujinami 5
7 Adam Raga 4
8 Micheal Brown 3
9 Jack Challoner 2
10 Matteo Grattarola 1