2013 X-Trial World Championship Round4

Bielefeld, Germany 23/3/2013

Out of Podium to Sixth

photoTwo weeks after the round3 at Malaga in Spain, Bielefeld in Germany hosted the round4 of X-Trial after the country has been absent in the championship calendar for a long time. Fujinami has a special memory in Germany, as he took the first Indoor victory in 2004, and he went on to clinch the Outdoor championship later in the year. Together with a good starting order to pick at the ballot among the top riders after finishing third in Malaga, Fujinami was pumped up to improve his finishing position better than the previous rounds.

He did not though have the best luck at the ballot, in fact he had the worse pick to start first among the group. Still he had the five riders starting before him, including Fajardo. The severity of the sections in Germany was not very high, meaning every point to drop would be decisive.

Dabil, the wild card appearance in Germany, started first at the Qualification Lap, and he rode the five sections with two fives. Challoner followed the Spaniard to ride with 23 points including three fives. Ferrer and Grattalora both finished with 11 points.

Fujinami was in form during the qualification to ride with a single point. Thus without waiting for the results of the rest of four riders, he knew he survived for the Semi-Final. Cabestany, Raga and Bou were strong to ride the lap with all cleans, so Fujinami finished fourth. There are tie-breakers to decide the finishing order among the top three riders, and between Grattarola and Ferrer. The championship leader Bou made a mistake at the tie-breaker, to foot at the U-turn point to finish third following Cabestany and Raga. Who knew that small mistake by the reigning champion would become the trigger for the troubles for the Japanese rider, and he eventually missed the chance to ride at the Final Lap.

photoThe first battle for the Semi-Final started with the Double Lane. Finishing fourth, Fujinami had to compete against Bou, who was unquestionably very strong for the race. There was no team order like there never has been, despite the Spaniard was on the verge of clinching the championship at the round. Fujinami told Bou that he would give his best to beat him. Bou responded that he would do the same. Fujinami led the race until the U-turn point, but he made a small mistake to get out of shape at the end. While the Japanese slowed down momentally, Bou went past to take the victory.

At the past few rounds, Fujinami won the Double Lane at the Semi Final to carry the momentum for the rest of the lap. It was the only a point advantage, but it made the difference when the competition was intense. Having lost the speed race in Germany, he had to ride the rest of the observed sections with a disadvantage instead. Fujinami made up his mind to cancel the point gap by aiming for cleans.

The time was short for the first observed section at the Semi-Final. Dropping time penalty was not an option for Fujinami, so he chose the hard way to ride without stopping in the section. He however made a mistake to end with a full mark. He knows, as he looks back later, that he might have ridden with less penalty points if he took the it easy, but there was no room for him to sacrifice any point at the time. Fujinami and Raga were only two to drop five marks there. As the Spaniard won the speed race, Fujinami went down to the last place with six penalty points.

photoAt the section2, there was an over-hanging stair case with a small helping step on the floor. Fajardo, Cabestany, then Fujinami failed. The position of the step was a trick, because it was not rightly placed. Therefore the riders, who used the step all failed and the riders followed to ride without using the step all succeeded. Then Fajardo, Cabestany and Fujinami were three to fight for a position to proceed to the Final Lap. Odds were againt Fujinami as he was six points behind Fajardo, four points behind Cabestany with only two more sections to ride.

The beginning of the section3 was tough when taking the line for a clean. Fujinami had no choice but taking the risky challenge instead of sacrificing any penalty point for footing to bring the bike up. His plan though did not work out again, and he failed to end with a full mark. The final section was not a problem for all the riders. Fujinami marked clean so as everybody else except Cabestany, who dropped one point. Wtih three fives and a single point for losing the speed race, Fujinami finished the lap at the lowest position with 16 points, to end his evening.

It was a good contrast in the way Fujinami rode in Germany to the previous two rounds. Fujinami rode defensively in the past few rounds after winning the Double Lane, trying to eliminate penalty point as less as possible, but he was ready to drop some to stay away from the full mark penalty. In Germany, Fujinami rode offensively aiming for cleans after having a disadvantage. His plan did not work, but at least he should be happy to know he puts everything he had.

photoThere will be one more round before the season wraps up. As Fujinami's teammate, Bou has clinched his seventh Indoor title with his convincing victory in Germany, all the interests will be focused to the battle between Raga and Cabestany for the runner up position. Fujinami went down to fifth from third in the championship standing with his sixth position in Germany, with a big point difference; five to Fajardo, who is fouth, and eight to Cabestany, who is third. It is unlikely that Fujinami can turn things around at the final round to move up his position. He will try his 100% to end the X-trial season with a high note, so he can carry the momentum to the coming Outdoor season.

Quote from Fujigas:

Nothing worked today. At first, I thought I was in a good pace by finishing fourth with a single point riding at the qualification. Then I might have been a bit too eager. My riding was far off from the previous two rounds, where I have finished on the podium. It is a bit pity, but it was a good lesson too. Now I have no pressure at the final round, so I will compete hard so that I will regret anything to wrap up the season, to shift to the Outdoor season confidently.

2013 X-Trial World Trial Championship
Round4 Bielefeld, Germany
Final Lap and Semi Final
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 1
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 13
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 15
4 James Dabill Beta 25
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 12
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 16
Qualificarion Lap
1 Albert Cabestany Sherco 0
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 0
3 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 0
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 1
5 James Dabill Beta 10
6 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 10
7 Mateo Grattarola Gas Gas 11
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 11
9 Jack Challoner Beta 23
1 Toni Bou 80
2 Adam Raga 43
3 Albert Cabestany 42
4 Jeroni Fajardo 39
5 Takahisa Fujinami 34
6 James Dabill 18
7 Alexandre Ferrer 14
8 Matteo Grattarola 13
9 Jack Challoner 11
10 Francesc Moret 4