World Trial Championship Round 3 Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

He made it! Takahisa Fujinami stood on top of the podium 2 days in a row to achieve the perfect win in front of his home crowds at Motegi Japan, which was the moment he waited for 5 years.

Day 1 - Saturday, May 22nd

It was the 5th time that Twin Ring Motegi hosted trial world championship round. Basic configuration of the sections remained the same as the previous years. It was mostly cloudy on Saturday with occasional light rain provided friendly stage for the spectators, heavy rain prior to the event due to the typhoon Nida made originally slippery soil at motegi more difficult to handle for the competitors.

It was the first time for Fuji to proceed to Japanese round at 3rd in the point. "This is the year to capture the championship", Fuji commented at the beginning of the season, 3rd wasn't the place he should be happy about. Then it was clearly his goal for the round to move up in the ranking and to be on top of it. To do so, Fuji needed to set up the perfect victory by winning 2 days in a row. Fuji had never done it before, and it had been considered as Fuji's jinx for sometime.

Fuji picked the 3rd from the last for his starting position by ballot, with Raga and Lampkin, two of his strong oppositions behind.

At the very beginning of the lap at section 1, Raga looped and fived. It wasn't particularly difficult section to score clean, but it showed there was always a risk to end up with the maximum penalty. Taking no chance, Fuji footed when he felt losing his balance to finish the section with 1 point. Freixa and Cabestany scored clean, but it didn't bother Fuji so much.

They proceeded to Zone B, a set of long uphill for section 2 and 3. Fuji saw a young Japanese rode to score gracefully at section 2, and it gave him an idea that it wouldn't give him a lot of troubles. He demonstrated his specialty by giving a full throttle to climb up to score clean on both sections.

Freixa and Cabestany continued to score clean, but again Fuji wasn't anxious about it because he believed Raga and Lampkin would be his real threats at the later stages.

Zone C was located in the woods on a typical slippery Motegi surface. Section 4, a muddy slope looked to be easy, but Freixa made his first mistake of the lap and added 1 point. Fuji tried to focus again and rode carefully to mark clean.

Section 5 turned to be one of the toughest challenges with the waterfall at the beginning of the section refusing many to go through. Tomoyuki Ogawa, Fuji's long time friend who was in charge of Honda's 4-stroke debut at the round scored clean, so as Fuji's seniority rider kenichi Kuroyama. Fuji also succeeded to score clean. Cabestany became a victim of the waterfall and fived with Lampkin struggled to score 1 point, Fuji, Freixa and Kuroyama stayed on top with a single penalty point.

Spectator areas were located very closely to the starting area of the section 4 to 5, a huge vocal support from Japanese local fans pushed Fuji to thrust forward.

Section 6 was another tricky section with a moderate slope with enormous amounts of slippery and unstable rocks, but most of the top riders scored clean.

Section 7, a long and very slippery muddy slope, Freixa footed and added another point. Jarvis who is known to be very good at slippery surface added 3 points too. Fuji and Kuroyama both managed to score clean to keep their lead.

Many spectators were thrilled by the jumping stage at the beginning of the section 8, but following slippery and unstable rocks were the real challenge for the riders. Fuji added another point when he was about to stick in between the rocks. Kuroyama added 2 points while Lampkin scored clean, expected pair stood on top of the scoring board.

Section 9 and 10 at the end of Zone C, very tough challenges with many rocks were accumulated in a complicated form. Spectator areas were very close to the sections, and the fans were furious when they saw Fuji marking clean on both sections, the only rider who managed to do so. Fuji enjoyed having support from a huge crowd that pushed him to do better, fans on the other hand enjoyed watching Fuji at his best. Lampkin added 2 points at section 9, allowed Fuji to be on top in point.

Section 11 to 14 were located at Zone D, where number of rocks were positioned on a slippery slope. While Fuji scored clean, Lampkin failed to climb the last rock at section 11, allowed Fuji to build 7 points lead. All four sections were technical rocky stretch with muddy soil, giving no time to relax. Fuji and Jarvis were the only two to mark clean at all four sections.

The final section 15 was located at Zone A, and Fuji scored clean again to finish the lap with 2 penalty points. He had figured he would keep the score within single digit, but it was somehow unexpectedly well, and it would give Fuji an adverse effect at the following lap.

Fuji went on to start lap2, and he footed to add 1 point at section 1 again. But when he had another point at section 6, he started to wonder if he was not up to his performance as the previous lap.

Then at section 8, he was overcautious as climbing up the slippery slope, and at the end of the section he missed his ideal line. He struggled to go through the way, and marked 3 points. Still he had 7 points lead over Lampkin.

Fuji showed the perfect ride at section 9 on lap1, but had to face five on lap2. It started out when he footed at the beginning, but following jump on, his rear wheel slid a little and touched the section marker. Observer immediately whistled. The world championship rulebook defines a failure when "The rider or machine breaks, removes or knocks over a marker, a support or tape", but touching a marker is considered as a failure in all Japan championship. Still puzzled by being fived, Fuji accepted the penalty and went on, but his lead over Lampkin narrowed down to 2 points.

Fuji added another point at section 12, which meant only one point separation between the top two. Fuji managed to score clean at the last 3 sections to finish out Saturday's competition.

When Lampkin finished the lap, Miguel Cirera, Repsol Montesa HRC team boss came to inform Fuji that he won the day by one point against Lampkin. Fuji was happy to hear that but waited for the official results to be announced. It took nearly 10 minutes, but finally the official put Fuji's name on top of the scoreboard. Fuji cerebrated the victory with Josep, Alex, Santy and Mr. Kamata, but he knew it was only the half way down the road.

Day 2 - Sunday, May 23rd

Expected sunshine didn't show up, but the weather turned to be better on Sunday. However a lot times the soil tends to be more slippery when it is drying than being wet, it wasn't easy to say if the condition would be better than the previous day. Overnight modifications took place at section 3, 10 and 14, giving less room for an error.

Fuji never believed in a jinx that kept him from winning 2 consecutive days. He knew it was just a barrier he hadn't been able to break through yet.

Prior to the competition, Fuji tried to forget about his victory on Saturday to refresh his concentration. Fuji continued to score clean at the first 7 sections so as his teammate Freixa and young Fajardo.

At section 8 where Fuji added 3 points at lap2 yesterday, he was overcautious trying to line-up with his line and lost the momentum. He stopped and concentrated again to continue. He added 3, where Freixa and Fajardo continued to score clean to be on top in point, but there was still a long way to go, and Fuji didn't think they would be the real threats for him.

At the final rock step at section 10, Kuroyama fell and hit his chest very bad. Top riders became cautious and spent a long time to inspect the section that was altered from yesterday.

Jarvis fived at the beginning of the section, so as Raga for moving backwards. Fuji was next to attempt and rode beautifully. He was so happy and punched the air as he cleared the section.

Fuji wasted no time to proceed to the next section. He could wait to see how his rival could do, instead he decided to play mental game with Lampkin, which was to mark clean at the next section and leave a message to shake up Lampkin when he arrived.

It was uncertain that Fuji's plan worked out, but Lampkin indeed made a big mistake at section 12. He touched the section marker like Fuji did at the previous day. For 7 times world champion it wasn't easy to accept such penalty, but prior to the competition, officials strictly pointed out the penalty for touching the marker. Lampkin added 3 more points at section 13, and the point gap stretched to 12 points in a short time. Fuji meanwhile continued to mark clean, and finished the lap with 3 points, the only penalty he had on the lap at section 8.

Fuji was clearly on a roll on day2 as on Saturday. He built 5 points lead over 2nd place Freixa, 9 for Lampkin and 14 for Raga. If he could keep the momentum going, his jinx or a barrier would be break away at later in the aftersoon.

Fuji score all clean for the first 5 sections of lap2. He added 1 point when he lost a balance at section 6 but it didn't hurt him a bit. Freixa added 3 points at section 8, and Fuji's advantage became 7.

At section 10 where Fuji was the only rider to score clean on the previous lap, yet he made a mistake and jammed his foot between the bike and the rock. He added 3 points there but still kept his advantage over then 2nd place Lampkin by 5 points.

Following section 11, Fuji made the biggest mistake of the day, which was a similar mistake to Lampkin's on Saturday. "All the sudden I was very tight. The timing was off and couldn't give enough gas either." He added 5 more penalty points, which meant he and Lampkin were even in point. For the last four sections, Fuji concentrated again and rode impressively to mark all clean to finish the lap.

Again Lampkin was the last to finish the lap, in fact, he rode flawlessly to mark 15 straight cleans on lap2. Although Fuji was told that he had won day2 by a couple cleans, it was hard for Fuji to believe.

There was a chance that Lampkin might be lodging his protest against the penalty at section12. It was a long and quiet moment once again at the podium area, with spectators breathlessly waited for further announcement.

Finally the results were posted, Fuji won day 2 by number of clean, Fuji for 26 and 24 for Lampkin.

Fuji achieved the perfect victory by winning 2 days in Japan, which he had waited for 5 years. Furthermore, Fuji moved up to the top of the ranking by number of win, Fuji for 3 while 1 for Lampkin.

It was also a very emotional moment for Yoshitaka Fujinami, the father of Fuji, who has been supporting Fuji for his world championship challenge from the beginning for 7 years.

Quote from Fujigas:
So the "jinx" are finally gone, but I rather like to think that I have accomplished the thing I haven't been able to do. I feel like I am building up know-how to win each time. Some people say Dougie is losing his supremacy, but I don't think it is true. As he had 15 cleans at lap2 on Sunday, he is still a very strong rider. I even think he is stronger than ever. Although I won 3 times this year Dougie ties in point with 1 win. He is the only rider who never missed the podium this year, and it shows how stable he is. I had some up and down results so far, but I will try my best to be on the podium every time at the rest of the season to push Dougie to the edge. I like to thank you very much for the warm support especially my Japanese fan this time. I hope your continuous support.

2004 World Trial Championship
Round 3 Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
1. Takahisa Fujinami 13 (2+11) 23
2. Dougie Lampkin 14 (9+5) 25
3. Adam Raga 18 (15+3) 21
4. Graham Jarvis 28 (12+16) 18
5. Marc Freixa 30 (10+18+2) 16
6. Jeroni Fajardo 36 (17+19) 17
1. Takahisa Fujinami 12 (3+9) 26
2. Dougie Lampkin 12 (12+0) 24
3. Marc Freixa 13 (8+5) 24
4. Jeroni Fajardo 18 (13+5) 23
5. Adam Raga 20 (15+5) 20
6. Graham Jarvis 22 (16+6) 22
1. Takahisa Fujinami 101 (3 wins)
2. Dougie Lampkin 101 (1 win)
3. Adam Raga 94
4. Albert Cabestany 76
5. Marc Freixa 75
6. Jeroni Fajardo 63

Pix: Pep Segales , Makoto Sugitani & Hiroshi Nishimaki Official Results PDF- Saturday
Official Results PDF- Sunday
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