2014 Trial World Championship Round1-2

Mt. Tarrengower, Australia 12-13/4/2014

Good Weekend with a Victory

photoAustralia in the southern hemisphere hosted the opening rounds of Trial World Championship after two years of absent from the championship calendar. The Grand Prix of Australia and Japan are some tough challenges for the many competitors as the venues being far away from where many teams have their bases at, as the competitors will have to fight against jet lag as well.

There was a new rule introduced for the Outdoor championship, which allowed the competitors to inspect the sections on the event days. However in turn, the competitors were not allowed to enter the sections for inspection on Friday and the time was shortened to one hour and half, too. With the total allotted time for each riders to finish was five hours and 20 minutes, although it was convenient to inspect the sections on the competition day, it was going to be a hectic job to inspect and compete on the same day and to finish in time.


Watching the sections from the distance on Friday, Fujinami found the severity low and expected some nerve breaking battles. His team mate Bou did not seem to be very happy about the section not being so difficult, as he would have bigger advantage over the rivals when the severity was higher. Fujinami and Bou discussed that the penalty points for the total of three laps would be at the range of five to ten points, and they set their goal to finish with a single digit.

photoThere was also a special arrangement for the Grand Prix. Since the Section14 was located in a distance from the Section13, the time check was set after the Section13. Competitors had 20 minutes to transport and to ride the Section14. It was still a busy job for the competitor to finish the 13 sections in three hours. FIM noticed that they would modify some of the sections if the weather improved, thus the severity brought up slightly when the competition got underway, making the job even tougher with the time wise.

The starting order was the reverse order of 2013 standings. The final starter Bou put the black bib signifying the top rider in the championship. Being fifth in the championship last year, Fujinami started fifth from the last.

Fujinami realized that his condition was good with a strong feedback when he was around the Section5. He also had a good pace. Without having a reason to wait and waste his time, he moved on rapidly. The Section10, by the way, was cancelled at Lap1 due to the stone in the section fell off. The section was revised and became effective at the later laps.

Fujinami asked the team manager, Oscar Giro the point situation when he completed 13 sections. The Japanese rider intensionally avoid to know such information normally, but he was curious to know where he was at as he felt doing so well. Oscar did not have detailed information, but told Fujinami that Bou was riding with all clean, and the rest of the riders were fighting with four to five points. The information was not correct in fact, that Bou lost two points before riding the Section13, where the section he would make a full mark error. Dabill lost a point before the Section13, who would also five at the Section13. Fajardo rode with all clean until the Section13, who would lose three points at the Section13 and fived at the final section. Raga lost six points before the Section13, and he would lose two points more to finish the lap with eight points eventually.

photoFujinami completed the first 13 section with two points, and to finish the lap without additional penalty point. He was actually at the top of the score board with four points advantage over Dabill when the first of three laps was over. Fujinami believed that he was at somewhere in the battle for the victory and moved on to the second lap. Then he lost two points at the Section3 of Lap2. Because he believed he was in a close fight, he thought the mistake allowed the rivals to catch him up. He was disappointed that he had to start the thing over again. From that point, he did not bother to hear the point situation and tried to concentrate on his own riding until the end of the day.

Fujinami was at the Lap3, when he started to have a problem of his arms and legs to pump up. The problem came on after his left leg cramped. Leg cramp happened probably he used the left leg more to unconsciously protect the injured leg. Or, it was his first long time riding after getting injured. He had, pre-cautiously, cancelled his participation at the Spanish championship a week before the opening rounds, so the Australian Grand Prix was truly the first time to ride long hours for him. Fujinami did not know if his body would endure against hard riding until the end of the day. He occasionally stopped to have a massage to his body and his pace slowed down. In the end Cabestany caught up and went passed Fujinami. The Japanese rider first thought it was a good sign that he did not have to worry about his finish time so much even after spending time for his stops, because the Spaniard started his competition right after the Japanese. But Fujinami figured it wrong.

Cabestany went into the Section13 and failed with a full mark. Fujinami waited for the section to be cleared for his turn, but the Spaniard seemed very slow to move on. It looked like as if he was doing it on purpose because if he would finish just on time, the Japanese would definitely penalized for his late finish. Cabestany finally went out of the section and Fujinami rode the Section13 with a single point. But indeed, he did not finish in time to lose one time penalty when reached at the time control.

photoFujinami had 20 minutes before riding the final section to finish. He did not have to rush but went into the section right away. That was his mistake. He should have rested a little because he had his arm cramped while in the section. It was very difficult to control the bike, and at one point, he thought making a five error was inevitable. He managed to ride with a clean in the end.

Fujinami was at the time control rubbing his arm, when Bou caught him up. The team mate approached Fujinami before riding the final section, and gave a quick word to congratulate Fujinami. Bou said he lost nine points before the final section, but Fujinami lost seven with one time penalty points. Bou said victory must have been Fujinami's, and the Spaniard left for his remaining ride.

Although having a strong suggestion from the team mate, Fujinami could not get hold of the situation. He got his card punched out and realized that he had a very good riding on Saturday. He thought Bou was right that he took the victory, but even he did not, he knew he had finished somewhere in the top group. He was satisfied with the day's riding, so he felt as if the results did not really matter for him. Fujinami went to see the score board after spending about five minutes at the paddock. It was then finally he understood that he won the day when he saw his name at the top of the score board.


Fujinami had a late dinner after waited for the staff to come back. Some of them returned late. He had a beer for celebration for his victory, but of course, since another day of the competition awaited he had just one glass of it.

It was the first time to ride more than five hours since suffering the injury, but he was glad to know that physically there was no big problem for him in the evening before. He had a bit of pain on his knee so he cooled it down with ice, then had a massage before taking a hot shower. He worried about his arms and legs pumping up during the competition more than his knee, and had a little uneasiness if his body would takes another day of hard riding.

photoFujinami became the final starter on Sunday after winning the round one and to become the top rider in the standings. It was his turn to put the black bib The feature was introduced recently, so it was the first time for Fujinami to have the proud number. He was teased by many people.

Overnight modifications took place at five sections, the section 2, 5, 7, 9 and 11, to bring the severity higher. Fujinami started with a clean at the Section1, but failed at the modified challenge at the Section2 with a huge stair case. He moved on to have another full mark error at the Section3. He lost ten points at the beginning of Lap1, where in a contrast, he lost seven points only in three laps on Saturday. As the severity was higher on Sunday, Fujinami believed at the time that a recovery was possible as the competition would progress. However, Fujinami kept making mistakes. To change the situation, he speeded up to pass about five riders. He finished the Lap1 together with Tarres.

Fujinami asked for the point situation again on Sunday, and he found out Bou and Raga were the two at the top and the rest of the riders had similar points. Fujinami finished the Lap1 with 25 points, five points more than Fajardo, who was third at the time. Cabestany was fourth with 22 points, and Dabill was fifth sharing the same penalty points with Fujinami. Bou and Raga was a bit too far to catch with five and ten points, respectively, but Fujinami still had a chance for a podium finish.

At the Lap2, Fujinami tried the different riding line than his first try at the Section2, where the section previously he made a full mark error. He succeeded to ride out expecting a call of clean, but the observer fived him for stopping. It was a questionable call, and it appeared so for Dabill's eyes too. UK rider spoke up although it was a rare that the rider spoke to the other rider's result. Even with the UK rider's advice together with an appeal by the Japanese, the call was not altered.

Fujinami made a huge roll over at the Section3. He needed to minimized the penalty point, but he made the two consecutive full mark errors already at the beginning of the lap. At the end of the lap, at the Section14, Fujinami had to face another unreasonable five point penalty. It was the section Fujinami marked clean for all three laps on Saturday as well as the first lap on Sunday. He rode the section just like how he did before, but the result was different when the observer fived him for stopping. Fujinami watched Ferrer riding at the section, very much similar to how the Japanese rider rode, but the Sherco rider marked clean. Fajardo followed to ride and he rode like how Fujinami did, but then the Spaniard was fived. It was hard to find the line between stopping and not-stopping at the section.

At the time, Fujinami realized that the his hope for the podium finish and to be in the top group was gone. Is was the matter of what he could minimize the damage to finish as good as he could. He finished the Lap2 with 33 points, having a huge gap-25 points-over Cabestany who had the total penalty points of 33 points with Lap1 and Lap2 combined. Fujinami was bettered by Casales by the end of the Lap2, as the Spanish rookie had 54 points.

A bad luck struck Fujinami just before the Lap3, too. He was warming up for the final lap and the noise started to sound from the front forks. The stroke of the front fork became only the half travel than they were supposed to be. There were three choices for Fujinami, one was to take out the standard forks from the minder's bike and put it to Fujinami's. The second was to wait for the mechanic to go back to the paddock to pick up the spare forks. The third was to do nothing and continue riding with the troubled forks. It was no doubt that changing the forks to the spare parts was the best choice, but he did not have time to wait for the parts to arrive, nor had time for the two mechanical stops.

photoFujinami stayed with the troubled forks and continued. The shock was huge to his wrists and shoulders when jumping off as the movement of the forks was limited. He had been taking extra care for the way to jump off since having the injured knee. The degree of the shock was beyond the comparison, but he did not have a room to care for his knee. It was very hard to control the bike so he forced the bike to get going, too. But interestingly, the difficulty somehow fired up Fujinami's spirit and he started to ride better than the previous laps, and he marked five consecutive cleans at the beginning of the lap. The mechanic brought the spare forks before the Section6, so he halted for a moment for an exchanging job. By the time he rejoined everybody was gone. Fujinami resumed his riding behind Bou. When the lap was over Fujinami finished the lap with 11 penalty points, the best lap of the day.

Fujinami wondered if he finished behind Casales, but he was able to finished sixth, a position better than the Spaniard. As the two rounds were over, Fujinami acquired 30 points, being tied in points with Raga and Fajardo, but because of the victory on Saturday the Japanese took second in the championship behind Bou, who acquired 37 points over the weekend.

The weekend for Fujinami turn out to be the mixture of good and bad. But it was the very convincing start of the season for himself and for the new born Repsol Honda for two wins. For Fujinami, although disappointing results on Sunday, it was an encouraging weekend just two weeks from his home Grand Prix in Japan. The Repsol Honda will arrive at the Japanese Grand Prix in the formation of first and second in the standings.

Quote from Fujigas:

On Sunday, I worried if I would finish seventh or eighth, so the sixth place was good considering the way I rode all day and the difficulty I had. It is hard to say if I should say happy about the weekend with a victory and sixth, but I guess it is always nice to win. There are three riders sharing the same championship points, but I am satisfied with my results, even with worse results on Sunday than the other two, that I won one of two. The formation of the team has changed to the Team Honda, and I know I have to brace up to perform better this year. I am very happy to have a victory for them, and to know we have the potential to win, too. I will return to Japan being confident for the coming rounds.

2014 Trial World Championship
Round1-2 Mt. Tarrengower, Australia
1 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 8
2 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 9
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 11
4 Adam Raga Gas Gas 11
5 James Dabill Beta 33
6 Albert Cabestany Sherco 34
7 Pol Tarres Sherco 62
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 70
1 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 7
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 13
3 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 39
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 39
5 James Dabill Beta 50
6 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 69
7 Jorge Casales Gas Gas 81
8 Eddie Karlsson Montesa 106
1 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 37
2 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 30
3 Adam Raga Gas Gas 30
4 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 30
5 Albert Cabestany Sherco 23
6 James Dabill Beta 22
7 Jorge Casales Gas Gas 16
8 Pol Tarres Sherco 16