World Trial Championship Round 9 Puerto Pajares, Spain

World Championship arrived in Spain after three weeks break from the Italian round. There was no man-made section for this year's Spanish round. There were wet and slippery stages for the first 4 sections followed by Spanish dry rocky sections for the rest. Later were considered as local rider Raga's specialty.

Fujinami came to Spain with a clear goal, which was to establish a commanding lead over Lampkin before the final round of the season. Fuji had good 19 points lead in the championship, but winning in Spain would give him 20 more points. Greater point gap would not hurt him at all.

There were a few things that Fuji worried prior to the competition on Sunday. He could not find the ideal setting for the bike at the final adjustment on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Fuji felt something wasn't right when he woke up. He didn't feel great to start the day, which might have been the reason for his tough battle for more than a half of the day.

During lap1 and the first half of lap2, Fuji was amazed that his body didn't react the way he wanted. Physically he had no problem, but because he didn't have a clear head, it restricted the body to perform at its best. Even when he marked cleans, he didn't feel comfortable, and knew he had it by a narrow margin. Fuji marked 5 cleans on lap1; greater number of clean than Raga and Lampkin, but he struggled to compete and finished the lap. He felt that it wasn't going to a good day for him.

Fuji proceeded to lap2, and he had 2 points at the first section followed by single penalty at the section 2. He marked two cleans at section 3 and 4 as he did in the last lap. Section 5 and 6, where he had 3 and 5 points previously, he managed to go through with 2-single point penalties. It was then he began to feel his riding was back. Fuji asked the team boss for the competition report, and Fuji found he was in the 3rd place by the end of lap1. Although the boss didn't mention him the point gap, Fuji felt that he could recover. Fuji wasn't doing well on lap1 and still managed to finish at top three. He was confident for the rest of the lap to fight back knowing his riding and rhythm were back then. Fuji might have to settle for the 2nd place to Raga, but he wanted to finish ahead of his biggest rival for the title, Dougie Lampkin.

After scoring two consecutive cleans at section 7 and 8, Fuji fived for the first time on lap2 at section 9. It was located about 300 meters below in altitude from section 8 - located at 1,600 meters. Fuji and the crew adjusted the electrical setting of the bike for the section. The setting worked OK on lap1, but it didn't on lap2. Fuji failed to climb up the rock because the motor didn't perform as expected.

Fuji saw Dougie failed at the section as he waited his turn. He thought it would be one of the biggest chances to catch up Dougie, or even pass him, because it was the section Fuji had only one point on lap1. So being failed and fived there slowed down Fuji's rhythm. Fuji then decided to make a drastic electrical adjustment in order to turn the things around. It was the setting Fuji normally avoided because his body couldn't match up. Physically Fuji was up to the setting, thus he went for it. His gamble paid off, and he had 3 consecutive cleans followed by a single point at section 13.

He approached section 14, which later he admitted was the most difficult section for him. Fuji fived on lap1, but he managed to score clean for the second attempt. The boss came to Fuji and reported that Fuji was tied in points with Raga for the 1st place.

Fuji proceeded to the final 15th section. Most of the competitors played for safety for 3 points. Raga tried the section before Fuji, and he also rode for 3 point. Before the attempt, Fuji was thinking about the line he found at lap1, which was a line to climb up directly. He did not try it on lap1 and fived there. Fuji decided to go for it that time and it worked perfectly. It wasn't impossible for Fuji to mark clean, but he footed to secure the least penalty point. As a result, Fuji managed to move up in points, winning the round by 2 points against Adam Raga.

It took a while till Fuji could celebrate the victory, because Raga lodged his protest after the competition. He was claiming for two things; over time penalty at section 7, and being fived at section 12 - the observer fived him for moving stones in the section.

Fuji was nervous knowing that it was the protest being lodged by the local Spanish hero. Team boss told Fuji that he thought 80% chance for Raga's appeal to be granted. The prize ceremony took place while the officials were working on the case. It was a mixed feeling for Fuji on top of the podium knowing the results could be revised at any moment.

Raga's protest was rejected, and Fuji officially became the winner of Spanish round. Fuji stretched his lead into 24 points over Lampkin and 28 for Raga. With only 2 days competition remaining, it could be decisive advantage for Fuji. Team boss gave him an advice that fighting for 3rd place consistently for the rest of the season would be enough for Fuji to capture the title.

Fuji agreed. But he came to Spain for aiming three consecutive victories at the end of the season. Now he had a victory in his bag, he is looking forward to taking two more before the season is out. He will ride the only way he knows, that is to ride for the victory. Fuji's chance for taking the championship becomes bigger than ever, but it will not change the way Fuji competes at all.

Quote from Fujigas:
I was very off on lap1, and I knew I couldn't hope to win the round that way. So I think I did very well to recover today. Like always, I was aware of Lampkin today. But he might have been busy for watching Raga for the 2nd than care about me, because 4 points difference is very subtle at the end of the season. My goal for the final round is to capture the championship on Saturday. There is a month break before the round, but I will try to do the same as before. We have been very busy competing lately, so I am happy that now I will have more time to practice. I simply want to ride and practice on the motorcycle than thinking about the Swiss round.

2004 World Trial Championship
Round 8 Puerto Pajares, Spain
1. Takahisa Fujinami 47 (34+1+12) 13
2. Adam Raga 49 (27+22) 12
3. Dougie Lampkin 52 (27+2+23) 11
4. Kenichi Kuroyama 71 (40+31) 8
5. Albert Cabestany 73 (42+3+28) 5
6. Marc Freixa 75 (35+4+36) 9
Ranking (2 rounds to go)
1. Takahisa Fujinami 250
2. Dougie Lampkin 226
3. Adam Raga 222
4. Albert Cabestany 173
5. Marc Freixa 158
6. Jeroni Fajardo 137

Pix: Mario Candellone Official Results PDF- Sunday
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