2014 Trial World Championship Round3-4

Twin Ring Motegi, Japan 26-27/4/2014

Painful Ride, Single Podium

photoTakahisa Fujinami returned to Japan after the opening Grand Prix in Australia some days earlier than the other competitors. He enjoyed quality time of life in Japan, and he visited a Japanese trial championship to watch his childhood friend and the working mate at Honda, Tomoyuki Ogawa, winning the event, too. He was refreshed and recharged the battery of his own to get prepared for the important rounds in the championship to do a good show in front of all the fans in Japan.


The sections inspection on Friday had to be done quickly due to a change of the rules. It was as busy as the competitors arrived at the section, checked the basic condition of the surface and left for the next section. But doing so, Fujinami found the severity was not very high at the most of the sections, and he expected some nerve breaking battles again. He thought there was a chance to finish with a single digit penalty points. Still, there were many chances and tricks to get fived especially with the non-stop rule.

Fujinami's starting order was sixth from the last based on the results of Day2 in Australia. He had Dabill and Cabestany starting after him. Marking clean at the Section1 and 2, Fujinami dabbed a single point at the Section3. Then at the Section4, Fujinami made a full mark error, which was the section being one of the weak points at Motegi for him. It had been the section somehow as a barometer for his condition at the given day, so fiving there was not encouraging at all. But at the same time, he knew the exact reason for the error that time. He slid the rear tire and lost the momentum on the gravel bed.

photoBou meanwhile made his first five point error at the Section3, too. He was riding with a pain due to an injury, and struggled to show his usual commanding performances. Raga and Cabestany were the two who were showing some good rides on Saturday.

There were a wide variation of sections in Motegi this year, so the riders needed to perform strong at all around conditions. Cabestany was next to lose the charge when the section became muddy in the middle of Lap1. Fujinami, although he was not riding at his highest level, showing strength at many sections. He also marked clean at the Section4, the known weak point for him at Lap2.

The weather report suggested the rain would fall at any minute, but the sky suddenly became dark as the cloud began to form over the sky. There was the sound of the thunder in a distance, too. As the lightning warning was given around the area, the organizer made an announcement to ask everybody to take cover under some kind of the ceiling. The order puzzled the international competitors, because they have never been in such situation. Some actually became offended at the sudden interruption. Fujinami returned to the paddock a while after the announcement was made.

Some suggested that the competition must have finished by the time of interruption, according to the rule. If that was the case, the Saturday's event could be cancelled because the competition halted before completing 2/3 of the whole event. Fujinami thought it would be a big disappointment because he had a chance to stand up on the podium. Nobody at the paddock started to pack for the day, but at the same time, there was the atmosphere around the paddock that the competitors were not expecting for the restart.

photoThen another announcement was made telling that the competition would resume in 30 minutes. It was not an easy thing to do to bring up the motivation again for the competition for everybody. It was tough for Fujinami, too, and he felt as if there were two separate events in one day. Still, he adjusted well to continue riding at the same or even better than how he did at Lap1.

At the Section7 of Lap3, a bad luck struck Fujinami. When he jumped off from the double step in the damp soil, he extensively bent his knee toward the front. Right away, he had a very discomfort feeling in his knee that he had never felt since suffering the injury. He managed to mark clean at the section, and made a short stop to have a quick treatment to his knee.

The condition of the knee was not good that he was not sure if he could continue to ride the remaining five sections. The problem was very serious, but at the same time, being in adversity seldom made Fujinami stronger in the past. The difficulties seemed to fire up his spirit, and he continued to ride strongly, almost the same level as he did at the previous laps.

photoHe rode the Section12, the final section of the day, without knowing the point situation, where the section he fived when he lost the traction at the approach. He found out later that his third place was secured regardless of the result at the section. He also found that he had a chance to better the team mate to finish second if he could ride the section with three points. The news disappointed Fujinami that he lost the chance with a slim margin. However, considering he was not sure he could complete the day with the problem of knee at one point, he was glad that he could finish day safely with the podium position.


Fujinami had a treatment with the knee on Saturday evening, and the pain eased off. But he knew that to cure the injury required an operation from the first place, and the treatments and the overnight rest would not fix the problem drastically. He prepared himself for a tough fight on Sunday, just like his team mate would with the rib problem.

The four sections, the Section3,7,8 and 9, were modified for the Sunday's event to bring up the severity. Almost all the riders failed the challenge of the Section3 consisted of unstable run up with continuous challenges of rocks and logs. Fujinami failed at the section for three laps on Sunday. Bou succeeded twice and Cabestany did once eventually.

Fujinami marked clean at his known weak point, the rocky section of the Section4, and it seemed that he was riding solidly, but in turn, he made full mark errors at the Section8 and 9. The later section consisted of climb on the slanted hill was tough for all. The local rider Tomoyuki Ogawa was the only rider rode out with three points at Lap1.

photoThe Section10, the tough challenge on Saturday, Fujinami chose the different riding line than he took on the previous day, which was the line to give up a single point. The line on Sunday, in which many previous starters chose seemed to be effective and many cleans proved it. Fujinami was not comfortable with the new line, but he took the chance to aim for a clean. But to be sure, he opened the throttle a little more aggressively than the previous riders. His plan did not work as he went too far drop a single point at Lap1. He corrected his riding and marked cleans at the later laps, though.

The characteristics of the sections were varied, and even the sections easier than the other had traps for a full mark errors with a small mistake together with the non-stop rule. There were some riders like Raga and Bou rode the Lap3 with a single digit penalty points, but many got caught in the traps and finished with 20s.

Fujinami meanwhile could not stay away from the traps and finished the Lap1 with 22 points and the Lap2 with 20 points. He asked the point situation before going into the final section of Lap3, and he heard that he had 58 points and changing the position was not happening as Fajardo, who rode the section with a full mark to finish with 66 points, and Cabestany marked clean at the section to finish with 53 points.

photoAlthough knowing Cabestany rode the section with three cleans, Fujinami did not take the riding line that the Spaniard took. The line had a risk to make a full mark error at the beginning, and he did not want to finish early to disappoint his fans. He entered the section to clear the hardest challenge at the beginning with a single point and arrived at the rock wall challenge at the end of the section. He succeeded to ride the double step to accelerate for the wall, but lost the traction to end with a full mark. Before leaving the section, he tried the final part of the section again to succeed, and performed a 'Air Turn' to cheer up the fans and himself to conclude the two days of the riding with a huge pain at his home Grand Prix.

Quote from Fujigas:

I struggled a lot with the pain in my knee, but there is no excuse. It was shame that I missed the podium on Sunday. On Saturday in turn, I barely missed the second finish, but I am happy to finish on the podium despite having a problem with my knee and the pain. I realized again that all the support from the fan in Japan pushes me to be stronger. To respond to their support, I tried to leave the section vigorously even after getting fived and moved to the next section. The battle of the championship will now moves to the Europe. Raga passed me to take the second place in the standings, but I will hang on to be up there and do my best at the rest of the season.

2014 Trial World Championship
Round3-4 Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
1 Adam Raga Gas Gas 26
2 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 42
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 45
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 56
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 62
6 James Dabill Beta 82
7 Jorge Casales Gas Gas 84
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 102
1 Adam Raga Gas Gas 40
2 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 47
3 Albert Cabestany Sherco 53
4 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 63
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 66
6 Tomoyuki Ogawa Honda 81
7 Jorge Casales Gas Gas 89
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 108
1 Toni Bou Repsol Honda 71
2 Adam Raga Gas Gas 70
3 Takahisa Fujinami Repsol Honda 58
4 Albert Cabestany Sherco 52
5 Jeroni Fajardo Beta 51
6 James Dabill Beta 38
7 Jorge Casales Gas Gas 34
8 Alexandre Ferrer Sherco 30