2013 Trial World Championship Round7

Pobladura de las Regueras, Spain 23/6/2013

Tough Calls, Fourth Afterall

photoTrial World Championship took a short trip from Andorra to Spain for the round7 at Pobladura, a small town located north west of Madrid. The venue hosted the championship event two years ago. Fujinami found the section set up was basically the same from the previous time, except that the severity seemed to be lowered at some of the sections to be reasonable under the non stop rule.

Having a suggestion from Bou and Raga, the organizer modified the three sections; the section6, the section9 and the section11, to bring the severity higher.

There were many 'clean or five' type of challenges, showing a characteristic of the non stop rule. Since you cannot stop to adjust your riding, it is difficult to recover once you make a mistake in the section. What made the competition severer to contribute many fives to be dropped was the judgement standard in Spain. It was very unforgiving call the stopping, including some questionable calls, too. Measure for a call for stopping was unclear, and the judgement standard seemed to change from time to time, the section to the section. The same observer called for stopping at one part of the section, but ruled out stopping even obviously noticed.

Starting third from the last, Fujinami continued to compete without knowing how Bou and Raga were doing; typical Fujigas style. Starting the lap with a single point, he dropped two fives at the section3 and the section4. He fought hard staying away from the severe calls from the observers, but he dropped three more fives with a single point at the section7 to arrived at the final section of Lap1. Fujinami's minder Carles told the observer at the section to enter the section and walked up to the helping spot. However, the observer declared that there was no such word, thus he imposed a penalty of 'the assistant comes into the section without the invitation of the observer' to five Fujinami. The Montesa rider had no way but to leave the section with another five points. It was not only Fujinami, but Challoner had a similar problem with the observer.

photoBeing completely unhappy with the five points ending, Fujinami returned to the paddock to take time to calm down, then refueled the bike to continue. At the very first section of Lap2, the observer fived Fujinami for stopping when his front tire hit the rock wall after making mistake. He responded immediately to his mistake, and he was confident that he did not stop his motion. Fujinami asked the observer if it was considered as stopping, why not fived him when making turn, where his stopping was even doubtless. The observer responded that he could accept the stopping at the turning point because it was done by other riders, too, but the stopping at the rock wall was done by Fujinami only and due to the mistake by the rider. So be fived. The explanation puzzled Fujinami as the judgement standard seemed to be entirely up to the personal preference of each observer.

The section9, which was modified after the suggestion by Bou and Raga, was a water section to climb with a 90 degree turn around point. Riders had to hop the bike to change the direction, but the observer relentlessly fived the riders when hop. As a result, all the riders fived at the section at Lap1 and the following lap, too. At Lap3, most of the riders escaped the section because it was non sense to waste time to get fived when their time was running out.

photoThere is a thought among the FIM officials that the judgement standard for non stop rule needs to be tolerant like what we saw in the U.S. Even so, it will be difficult to set a measure to divide stopping from non stopping, and make it effective throughout the observers regardless of the countries that hold the Grand Prix. Fujinami thinks that instead of having an unclear standard, it could be better to make the measure very strict. Hopping to change the direction of the bike cannot be done nor 'Daniel' to hold balance won't be used any more, but it will make the judgement fair for everybody and easy to accept for the competitors. If that will be the case, the riders need to change the way of their preparation accordingly though.

Fujinami finished Lap2 with 32 points, three points less than the previous lap, but he had a positive feedback from his riding. At the end of Lap2, probably at the section10, he asked the competition report. Usually he tries to avoid to hear the report, but he had no idea what was going on the afternoon. Then he was surprised to hear that he had a narrow margin to the second place. He though he was at much lower position after facing fives here and there and too many times.

At Lap3, Fujinami fived at the section2. He marked clean at the section at the previous laps, but after being rode by the many riders, the surface with gravel stones became loose and hard to get a good traction. He could ride out with a single point if he footed intensionally when he lost the momentum. Instead he tried to aim for a clean but ended with a full mark; a bad judgement by the Japanese rider.

photoAt the final section of Lap3, where he was rejected to ride at Lap1, then marked clean at Lap2, he rode with two points to finish the competition. Raga and Cabestany finished with 87 points in a tie, and Raga took the second place by the three more cleans than the Sherco rider. Fujinami finished with 93 points, 6 points down from the Spanish duo. Looking back at some of the penalty points with or without his fault, he was not totally out of chance to get involved with the battle for the second place.

It was the battle of high scores as even the winner Bou dropped 61 points. Without having a chance to recover from a mistake under the non stop rule, especially with the strict judgement standard like in Spain, the score of the riders will continue to be either a clean or a full mark error. Is it going to be 'all or nothing' competition for the rest of the season? Along with setting up the clear standard of the judgement, there are some confusions with the new rule in this year's championship.

Quote from Fujigas:

I had a big chance to finish second but I let it slip by to finish fourth today. It amazed me when I saw the point standing to find I was still third. I suppose things will turn out fruitless if I keep my expectation too high and become too eager. So, for the rest of the six rounds, I will compete defensively and steadily to protect this third position, to see how things will turn out.

2013 Trial World Championship
Round7 Pobladura de las Regueras, Spain
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 61
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 87 (17 Cleans)
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 87 (14 Cleans)
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 93
5 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 114
6 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 116
7 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 120
8 Daniel Oliveras Ossa 124 (7 Cleans)
1 Toni Bou Repsol Montesa Honda 126
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 124
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Montesa Honda 94
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 94
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 89
6 James Dabill Beta 69
7 Matteo Grattarola Gas Gas 48
8 Loris Gubian Gas Gas 40