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It was a case of business as usual for defending champion Toni Bou – Repsol Honda at TrialGP Spain today, round one of the 2018 FIM Trial World Championship.
Competing on home ground in the foothills of the Pyrenees at the spectacular Camprodon venue, the thirty-one-year-old – who is bidding for an unprecedented twelfth straight World crown this year – overcame Saturday’s small, but very costly mistake in qualification that forced him to start today’s event as fifth man away.
With the mostly natural sections providing a tough season-opening test, torrential rain at the end of the first lap continued all afternoon turning it into a high-scoring event as the steep banks, imposing rocks and technical streams became increasingly slippery and even Bou’s winning total of forty-three was punctuated with four maximums on the second lap. The rapidly deteriorating conditions also inevitably slowed progress with all but one of the fifteen-strong field incurring time penalties.
“Yesterday didn’t go well, but on the first lap today I was feeling good and riding at my best,” says Bou, who fractured three vertebrae at an indoor event in France in February. “After my injury I’m very happy to start the championship with a win.”
Bou had dominated the first lap on just thirteen marks, twelve ahead of second-placed Jaime Busto – Gas Gas, but several uncharacteristic mistakes allowed his young compatriot to close in the second half of the event. However, any hopes Busto may have entertained of a shock win were crushed in the closing stages and a five on the final section of the Trial – plus an additional four on time compared to Bou’s single time penalty – left him seventeen marks adrift at the end.
Still, his second-placed finish equals his career-best results in Andorra and the USA last year and prove he is adapted well to the switch to two-stroke power this season after parting company with the Repsol Honda team.
Jorge Casales – Vertigo was third following the opening lap on a total of thirty-three, but fellow Spaniard Jeroni Fajardo – Gas Gas reeled him in on lap two to claim the final step of the podium by one mark on seventy-five.
Two-time World Champion Adam Raga – TRRS got his season off to a shaky start when he slumped to fifth, one mark behind Casales, with James Dabill – Beta the first non-Spanish rider home in sixth on a total of eighty-two. He was followed by veteran Spaniard Albert Cabestany – Beta on eighty-eight and Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda who was eighth, a further fourteen marks back after winning a tie-break with twenty-year-old Britain Jack Price – Gas Gas who matched his career-best finish achieved on day two in Japan last year.
Spain’s Miquel Gelabert – Sherco rounded out the top-ten, one mark behind Price.
Trial2 was won by super-experienced Italian Matteo Grattarola – Honda. The thirty-year-old, who dropped down into the class after finishing tenth in TrialGP last season, parted with just thirteen marks to win from British teenager Jack Peace – Gas Gas.
Peace, who was eighth in the championship last year with a top result of third in the Czech Republic, claimed a career-best second-placed finish. The seventeen-year-old’s score of twenty-seven gave him a four-mark cushion over France’s Loris Gubian – Gas Gas who has also switched to Trial2 this year from the TrialGP class.
Italian Lorenzo Gandola – Scorpa, last year’s Trial125 champion, just failed to break the top-ten with an eleventh-placed finish after dropping a very respectable total of forty-nine.
Britain’s Billy Green – Beta claimed a comfortable victory in the Trial125 class. The sixteen-year-old – who finished second in 2017 – got his campaign off to a stunning start with his final total of just twenty-five a full nineteen marks lower than Spain’s Martin Hermelo – Gas Gas who pushed yesterday’s top qualifier Arthur Rovery – Sherco from France back into third in the final section of the trial.
The World’s best riders now get a weekend off before the Championship resumes with TrialGP Japan at the famous Twin Ring Motegi circuit on 01/02/03 June.