Repsol Montesa HRC rider Takahisa Fujinami reluctantly had to surrender his World crown to Adam Raga - Gas Gas, after the young Spanish rider won both days of the German Grand Prix to secure his first ever World outdoor title. For the Repsol Montesa HRC team is was an enduring weekend as all three riders suffered inconsistent results. Dougie Lampkin was the best of a bad bunch with a 3 - 4 showing, whilst Fujinami and Marc Freixa recorded similar finishes with 8 - 3 and 2 - 7 results over the two days respectively.
Abiding by the tradition of having no competitions during the month of August, the FIM trial World championship having been on 'holiday' since the Grand Prix of Great Britain back at the end of July resumed this weekend ready for climax of this edition. Back in central Europe the riders made the long trip east to the small town of Gefrees, Germany. Situated just one hundred kilometres north of the city of Nuremberg, the venue was located at a relatively low altitude, with the paddock sitting at five hundred metres above sea level and the course rising no more than an extra two hundred and fifty metres, even at the highest section.
Friday's inspection of the course by riders and officials was met with a very positive response, with the organisers seeming to have got the severity and variety of hazards just right. The sections as a whole contained very few large steps, which have appeared perhaps too often this season, instead the hazards offered a good mix, based on a more traditional basis.
Sections one through to five could be found relatively close to the paddock and featured some steep climbs with equally steep solid rock faces, which would definitely be affected by the presence of rain. The next nine hazards were located in a disused quarry several kilometres away, making the lap one of the longest this year, measuring fourteen kilometres in total. In the quarry again the mix was good with some long flat sections on green rocks, a few in the trees, a couple of very steep hazards on loose, sharp edged boulders plus one that used the now redundant vertical rock faces.
Saturday morning got the action underway with the opening hazard proving to be a real tough initial test. Although a few riders crested the first undercut step, the final climb, which included two large slabs defeated all but Freixa and Antonio Bou - Beta, who both escaped for a single dab apiece. Noticeably the main two championship contenders, namely Raga and Fujinami looked extremely nervous during the first section. The severity of the second hazard was considerably less with Raga and Freixa both posting clean riders, whilst Lampkin and Bou lost one mark each. However Albert Cabestany - Sherco and Jeroni Fajardo - Gas Gas both under estimated the final part and both quickly added another five to their respective scores.
Fajardo was quick to cancel out this failure as became the only rider to record a clean at the steep and never end climb in section three, his full blooded no stop approach was an exceptional piece of riding by the young Spanish rider who has lost part of his season to injury. Amongst the front runners Raga was the only other rider to emerge from the end cards for less than five marks, although his three was anything but pretty.
After a shaky start Lampkin began to ride himself back into contention by producing the best ride in the fourth hazard, adding only one to his already mounting score, this was one better than Freixa, Fujinami, Fajardo, Raga, and Cabestany who were next best here. Raga recorded his second five of the day in section five as did Fajardo and Bou, with Fujinami also joining them to take his tally of maximums to three in the first third of the opening lap.
Set under the shade of the tall trees the next two sections featured damp, green boulders that offered little grip as the riders searched to find drive to climb these steep, twisty zones. The first of these was by far the most difficult of the two with Freixa and Fujinami coming up with the lowest scores here, their two mark rides bettering the threes of Lampkin and Fajardo. Beyond these four riders the rest were fives, including eventual winner Raga who suffered his second failure in a row.
Section eight brought a totally different type of section, the massive quarry steps being both dry and highly spectacular. As always with this type of hazards, although they may initially appear both dangerous and difficult, they actually prove of little resistance to the top riders. Raga, Fajardo, Bou and Fujinami all achieved faultless passages here, whilst Freixa and Lampkin just needed a dab apiece. Returning to the tree cover, sections nine, ten and eleven were virtually on flat ground, each containing a long twisting jumble of small but green rocks. Checking through the results sheet, this was one of the easiest groups of the day for most of the riders irrespective of their level, however Lampkin who was not enjoying the best of days endured an almost embarrassing five in section nine.
The closing four sections, including the final man made hazard back in the paddock again proved of little consequence to the top guys, despite the over zealous observing which was present throughout the day and was applied consistently to all irrespective of status. Freixa was the surprise leader at the end of lap one, his score of eighteen marks being four better than that of Raga who had ridden himself back up the order as the lap progressed. Cabestany and Fajardo were locked in third place at this point both on twenty eight marks, with Lampkin completely the top five having dropped just one mark more.
Lap two delivered few additional surprises, as it was quite clear that the eventual winner would be either Raga or Freixa, the only question was which one. Freixa did well to maintain his assault as in the past he has often felt the pressure and fell away, however his final lap score was not enough to earn him the victory on this occasion. Raga was simply superb considering the pressure he must have been under and produced the best lap of the trial to take the win and put the title within touching distance.
With Freixa in second, Lampkin made it two Repsol Montesa HRC on the podium by taking third place ahead of Fajardo and Cabestany. Fujinami suffered his equal worst result of the season by slumping to eighth place on the day, to effectively put an end to any chance of him retaining his title.
Raga - 1st : " This is an important moment for me, not just because of the victory but also because of the results of my closest challengers. Although I have ridden well, I can't say that I expected to win as it seemed that the sections were not the type I usually like. I was extremely nervous coming to Germany, as it is not terrain where I am at my strongest, but today I have shown that is not the case especially with the pressure I have had to deal with. I know I can be champion tomorrow, but also I know I must concentrate on the trial and not just the title."
Freixa - 2nd : " It is obvious that I am very happy today, OK I would have liked to have won, but in any case I was very close to the victory. I have been training hard during the holiday period, especially in slippery conditions, as this has been my weakness on the new bike. Today has shown that this work has been done well as I was very confident in the sections although they were not typically Spanish. I knew my position after the first lap and really just did my best on my second visit to the sections, it is hard to say but I do not think I could have ridden better, so in that way Raga deserves the victory."
Lampkin - 3rd : "" It has been a really disappointing and frustrating day, as the sections looked like they were really going to suit me. After looking round yesterday I was really up for it and quite fancied my chances. However it never turned out that way, and instead I have been pretty lucky to end up on the podium, as I was sure I could have been outside the top five at some points during the day. My day didn't begin well with a five in the first section, but even after that I was not unduly worried as only Freixa and Bou managed to do it for less than maximum. However when you five the same three sections on both laps, you know you aren't going to be challenging for the lead."
Fujinami - 8th : " It is clear today has been an incredible disaster for both me and the team. I was very nervous, too nervous in fact and this has resulted in me making many mistakes. I did my best to recover, but each time the nervous feeling returned as did the mistakes. I can not offer any further explanation than this and I can not offer any other excuse. I am very disappointed as now it looks like I can not keep my title."
Laia Sanz - Repsol Montesa HRC finished outside the top ten, with an eleventh position and was not happy with the events of her day. " On the first lap I was riding OK, not at my best, but even then although I was in seventh place after lap one I was close to the other riders in front of me. On the second lap I had a lot of problem with the observers, and with their judgements my result is perhaps the worst I could have imagined."
The sun overhead marked the start to Sunday, and it was clear that Fujinami must finish ahead of Raga on the day if he was going to prevent the Gas Gas rider taking the title prior to the final round in Belgium in two weeks time. This was never going to be an easy task as Raga was in a confident mood following his win on Saturday, and Fujinami had the added disadvantage of riding ahead of his main rivals due to his poor result just twenty four hours earlier.
Riding well ahead of the rest of the graded riders Fujinami was setting the standard, dropping just one five on the first lap to come in after the first fifteen sections with a score of only fourteen marks. This looked good as behind him there were mistakes being made with both Lampkin and Freixa to mention but two having recorded three maximums during the same period.
Cabestany showed that although Fujinami's score was good, it could be beaten as he swapped punch cards over at the half way point with a total of eleven marks showing. Cabestany's glory was short lived as within a few minutes a certain Adam Raga, who posted a seemingly impossible tally of just eight marks, had replaced his name at the top of the leader board. This was even more incredible when this total included a five in the very first section of the day.
From the early leader board it was clear that only a disaster would now prevent Raga from taking the title, as he was already on course for another victory, the remaining question to be answered was the order behind him. Raga finished off his weekend in true World champion style by taking a very convincing win to record his first ever World outdoor title. Behind him Bou made a return to rostrum as runner up and the 2004 champion Fujinami completed the podium in third place.
Lampkin did well to recover fourth position having been ninth after the first lap, he took this place after winning a three way tie ahead of Jarvis and Cabestany respectively. Freixa could not repeat Saturday's form and finished back in seventh place.
With the title now decided, the vice champion will not be known until the final round, as only six points separates Fujinami, Lampkin and Cabestany who currently sit in that order prior to going to the deciding event in Belgium.
Raga - 1st : " It is hard to explain just how good this moment feels, as I have been waiting since I was a child to become World champion. It is a great relief too, as August has been a tough month, as all around me my friends are making parties and have been enjoying the holiday period. For me it has been a long month of waiting and trying to continue my training. I have worked hard and have arrived here this weekend as a very strong rider. To take my first outdoor title by winning both days is a great way to mark this important moment in my career."
Bou - 2nd : " Second place at this point in the season is a great result for me, and the best result I have taken this year. Yesterday I made a poor trial and finished down in seventh place, this allowed Freixa to go ahead of me in the overall standings. But today it has been my turn to ride well and it was Freixa who had the problems. The seventeen points I have taken today has put me back in fifth position in the championship and also back ahead of Freixa. Now I have a five point advantage over him with just one trial remaining."
Fujinami - 3rd : " Finally the day has come where I am not champion any more, so I must congratulate Adam as he has been very strong this weekend when there was a lot of pressure. My result today is better than yesterday, but still it is not good and I am certainly not happy. It was difficult for me to ride at the front of the field, but I just did my best and with the changes we made to the bike overnight, the feeling was far more positive. Now all I can do is try to be second in the championship."
Lampkin - 4th : " If only the trial had started on the second lap it would have been OK. We made some changes to the bike after yesterday as I really struggled on sections that really should have suited me. But after the first lap it was obvious that some things were not even as good as before, so we had to make some more alterations ready for the second lap. They seemed to have worked as the improvement was quite significant and so was the difference in my score. Belgium is going to be pretty tense as there is three of us going for second place in the championship."
Freixa - 7th : " I had hope to continue riding in the same way I had done yesterday, as I felt very confident after my performance on Saturdayt. However that has certainly not been the case as I had a very bad first lap and was only able to recover a little on the second lap. This result has now left me behind Bou in the championship, which is a point I need to try and change at the final Grand Prix in Belgium."
Laia Sanz - Repsol Montesa HRC completed a disappointing weekend with a twelve place." Whilst it seemed impossible this morning, today has been even worse than yesterday. I have suffered all the same problems and the result is even lower. I would prefer to forget about Germany totally."
1. Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas), 37 ;
2. Marc Freixa (E-Montesa), 38 ;
3. Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa), 51 ;
4. Jeroni Fajardo (E-Gas Gas), 54 ;
5. Albert Cabestany (E-Sherco), 58 ;
6. Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco), 66 ;
7. Antonio Bou (E-Beta ), 68 (10x0) ;
8. Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda), 68 (9x0) ;
9. Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta), 82 ;
10: Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas), 95 ;
11. Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas), 101 ;
12. Fumitaka Nozaki (J-Scorpa), 103 ;
13. Shaun Morris (GB-Gas Gas), 104;
14. James Dabill (GB-Gas Gas), 107 ;
15. Sam Connor (GB-Sherco), 112
1. Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas), 17 ;
2. Antonio Bou (E-Beta ), 26 ;
3. Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda), 31 ;
4. Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa), 37 (16x0) ;
5. Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco), 37 (15x0) ;
6. Albert Cabestany (E-Sherco), 37 (13x0) ;
7. Marc Freixa (E-Montesa), 46 ;
8. Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta),49 ;
9. Jeroni Fajardo (E-Gas Gas), 54 ;
10: Fumitaka Nozaki (J-Scorpa), 72 ;
11. Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas), 74 ;
12. James Dabill (E-Beta), 77 ;
13. Shaun Morris (GB-Gas Gas), 85 ;
14. Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas), 89 ;
15. Martin Kroustek (CZE-Beta), 109
World Championship positions after 9 rounds;
1. Raga, 235 ; 2. Fujinami, 205 ; 3. Lampkin, 201 ; 4. Cabestany, 199 ; 5. Bou, 162 ; 6. Freixa, 157 ;
7. Jarvis, 122 ; 8. Kuroyama, 117 ; 9. Fajardo, 104 ; 10. Pascuet, 77 ; 11. Blazusiak, 72 ; 12. Nozaki, 59 ;
13. Connor, 27 ; 14. Morris, 26 ; 15. Shibuya, 13
Next event: 10th (Final) round at Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) on 18 September
Source: Honda Pro Image