2013 X-Trial World Championship Round5

Nice, France 12/4/2013

Evening Ended Early

photoThe final round of 2013 X-Trial Championship took place in Nice, France after about a month of interval from round four in Germany. The team Montesa riders, Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami both finished low in the qualification, fifth and sixth, respectively. While Bou came back strong at the following laps to take the victory number five, Fujinami faced a very bad luck, and he had to finish the day early.

The Montesa brought the bikes with the new engine installed in Nice, which was the engine HRC introduced for the following Outdoor season. According to Fujinami, the new engine has better power characteristics with better clutch feel. There was no wild-card participant, thus eight nominated riders competed in Nice. Going down from third to fifth after his sixth finish in Germany with a big point gap among himself and the top four riders, Fujinami had no pressure at the final round. He was to give all he had to finish the season on a high note.

As always, he did not have the best of luck at the ballot, but he did not worry too much as he figured that all the sections were manageable except the final section. Indeed, the section5 was tough for everybody, and eventually all the riders failed. Marking two cleans, then at the section3, Fujinami intensionally skipped the hop-on point at the end to jump over it. His plan did not work and he ended with a full mark. He marked clean at the following section, and fived at the section5 to finish his qualification with ten points. Fujinami was confident to survive for the next lap, but there were two things happened in the qualification that he did not expect. One was that Grattarola was very strong in Nice. The Italian rider dropped two points at the section2, but he marked three cleans to finish with seven points to be eventual fourth in the qualification. Another thing, which surprised everybody at the stadium, too, was that Bou made a mistake at the section2 to finish the
lap with ten points. 2013 champion was not fully used to the feel of the new clutch, and he failed to jump onto the obstacle to drop full mark. So, the two Montesa riders rode the tie breaker, and Bou took the fifth place. Fujinami therefore finished at the lowest position in the qualification.

photoThere was a bit of confusion for the speed race for the Semi-Final, in which the organizer introduced a complete new procedure. There was only one lane in the stadium so no race but the time trial by the each rider. The results would be decided by the finish time, and the first rider would drop zero point, then one point for the second rider, and the final rider would drop massive five points. The procedure however did not carried out after having a huge complaint that the procedure should not changed drastically. It would make virtually impossible to cancel the disadvantage at the very beginning of lap with having only three observed sections to ride, too.

So, the speed race took place in an usual manner except that only one rider rode at a time. Fujinami rode as fast as he could trying to beat the invisible and formidable rival, Bou. He finished a second slower to lose the battle, but he was still the second fastest with 33.69 seconds. Raga was third with two seconds slower, 35.72 seconds.

Fujinami continued his observed sections as the first rider. He did not worry about starting with a point disadvantage, as he knew we would cancel it with his riding. However, he found something was very wrong with the section1 as the obstacle was very unstable. He lost the balance and ended with five marks. Bou watched the situation to follow next, and he too had a hard time riding with the shaking obstacle. He barely managed to ride with a clean though. The obstacle in fact was not properly attached, then the organizer amazingly repaired it before the third rider starting his ride. They kindly fixed the position of the cue point, too, so overall the section was modified as a brand new with the lowered severity as well. Grattarola had no problem to ride it with a clean with one time penalty, and the rest of the riders all marked clean.

Starting the lap with a point disadvantage and five more point to drop, Fujinami must have known it was the moment that his evening would end shortly. He continued to ride the secion2 with a single mark, but dropped another five at the section3, which was tough for many rider, where Bou and Raga succeeded to ride without five marks, to finish with 12 points.

photoSuppose Fujinami marked clean at the section3, he would have finished fourth, being in a tie with Cabestany. Based on the results of the qualification, the Spaniard would take the fourth spot to proceed to the Final Lap. So the full mark at the section1 was decisive. It was not the best way to finish the season for Fujinami, especially the new bike ran sweetly. The Japanese rider was at least fortunate that he did not have time to get discouraged as he had to travel quickly back to his home country for the opening rounds of the Outdoor Championship to be held just a week later.

Quote from Fujigas:

I feel like the evening of the final round ended before I even went into the real competition. It was pity that the new bike ran wonderfully, but I did not have a chance to display its potential at all. I will put the disappointments in the Indoor season behind to try to ride strong in the opening rounds of the Outdoor season in Japan.

2013 X-Trial World Trial Championship
Round5 Nice, France
Final Lap and Semi Final
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 5
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 6
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 17
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 19
5 Mateo Grattarola Gas Gas 8
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 12
Qualificarion Lap
1 Albert Cabestany Sherco 5
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 5
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 6
4 Mateo Grattarola Gas Gas 7
5 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 10
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 10
7 Jack Challoner Beta 12
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 15
1 Toni Bou 100
2 Adam Raga 58
3 Albert Cabestany 51
4 Jeroni Fajardo 51
5 Takahisa Fujinami 39
6 Matteo Grattarola 19
7 James Dabill 18
8 Alexandre Ferrer 17
9 Jack Challoner 15
10 Francesc Moret 4