World Trial Championship Round 1 Bangol, Northern Ireland

Two consecutive years, the coastal city in Northern Ireland held the opening round of World Trial Championship. Majority of the hazards were the same as last year's, but the weather was completely different this year. It was intermittent rain with occasional hail, which made the familiar hazards more difficult to conquer.

Day 1 - Saturday, April 3rd

Fujinami won the opening round on Saturday last year. One of the major contributions to his victory was a steep rock with a short run up. Fuji scored clean in both laps, and the main competitor Lampkin fived both times. Fuji managed to build some lead there, and it saved him when he added some points at later sections. In fact, it is Fuji at the rock section in the opening flash movie of this web site.

They had that steep rock in the second section again this year. Fuji marked 1, while Lampkin fived there. Same story this year, and it wasn't a bad way to start for Fuji. At the section 13, one of other difficult hazards, Fuji among many other riders fived. Lampkin was the only one to go through the section entirely in both laps. Yet, he couldn't score clean either and added two points, it wasn't enough for him to catch up Fuji then.

Condition-wise, Fuji wasn't in the top form that day. He pushed himself and rode carefully at each section. In a long and tough battle for the championship, it's important to derive the best result possible even things aren't perfect. That's how Fuji was riding that day.

Fuji kept the lead and finished 1st. on lap1. He then started lap2 with 3 points lead over Lampkin. Section 2 came, and again Lampkin five, where Fuji added 1 point and extended his lead. Fuji added some points in the later sections, but the cushion he built early on saved him again this year. Fuji won the season opener by 2 points against archrival Lampkin for 2 consecutive years.

Day 2 - Sunday

Fuji has never accomplished the perfect victory by winning both Saturday and Sunday events. Along with a championship hunt, the perfect victory is the goal Fuji shoots for this year.

At the section 2, Fuji marked 1 point for the lap 1 and 2 for lap2. Lampkin however bettered himself on Sunday, scoring clean on lap1 and 1 point on lap2. Ironically, the section gave Fuji advantage on Saturday turned to be a trigger for Lampkin to catch up Fuji on Sunday.

One of the biggest mistakes for Fuji on lap1 was stalling the engine at section 12. The section wasn't a big problem for the top riders, and most of them marked clean. Adding 5 points penalty there hurt Fuji a lot. In the end, Fuji finished lap1 in the second place, 5 points behind Lampkin.

Condition on Sunday for Fuji was practically equal to the previous day, and he didn't feel so comfortable. Finishing 2nd on lap1 and putting himself into a position to play catch up, Fuji had to sort out his game plan for lap2 to turn the things around.

However, Lampkin was clearly on the rhythm on Sunday, and he became even better on lap2. Fuji soon found himself fighting for the 2nd place. Based on experiences he has learnt through his career, he then shifted the game plan to protect 2nd place. Although winning is important, it's pity trying too hard to jeopardize the position he already has and dropping back farther. Given circumstances, the best result doesn't always mean winning.

Fuji continued to ride with decent performance on lap2, and he kept the score low. But Fuji suddenly missed his beat when he arrived at the section 12. He added huge 13 points from section 12 to 14 (5-5-3). In contrast on lap1, he added 6 points through the sections, including 5 points with engine stall at section 12. This sudden set back allowed both Cabestany and Raga moving up ahead of Fuji.

So after 2 days of tough battles, it was interesting to see the results were exactly same as last year: 1st and 4th for Fuji and Lampkin had 2nd and 1st. Same results, but it gave Fuji a chance to find out his weakness and the way to handle the game. He dropped down because of some failures at late sections, but as far as fighting for the 2nd place, he did not need to score clean at the sections. He went for it, but failed and dropped down. Fuji would have kept his 2nd place if he were able to keep the penalty 5 points less. It was a tough way to learn the lesson, but hopefully Fuji will show us the difference with the secrets he learned in Northern Ireland.

Quote from Fujigas:
Winning would be great, but I learned a lot from losing on Sunday. The results maybe the same as last year's, but it gave me a chance to realize why I lost it, which I couldn't figure out last year.
I am very frustrated with 4th place, but I say it was satisfying in many ways. It wasn't a mistake to regret about, but it was a mistake to learn for the future.
I used to be the guy who couldn't win Day 2 for some reasons. But please be ready for me, I will be winning Day2, because now I know how.

2004 World Trial Championship
Round 1 Bangol, Northern Ireland
1. Takahisa Fujinami 37 (20+17) 14
2. Doug Lampkin 39 (23+16) 17
3. Albert Cabestany 42 (24+18) 14
4. Adam Raga 54 (31+23) 11
5. Marc Freixa 58 (37+21) 11
6. Jeroni Fajardo 64 (40+24) 11
1. Doug Lampkin 22 (11+11) 20
2. Albert Cabestany 35 (20+15) 16
3. Adam Raga 39 (18+21) 14
4. Takahisa Fujinami 40 (16+24) 17
5. Jeroni Fajardo 45 (25+20) 11
6. Marc Freixa 45 (25+20) 11
1. Doug Lampkin 37
2. Takahisa Fujinami 33
3. Albert Cabestany 32
4. Adam Raga 28
5. Marc Freixa 21
6. Jeroni Fajardo 21

Pix: Makoto Sugitani Official Results PDF- Saturday
Official Results PDF- Sunday
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