Trials

A magnificent Toni Bou commands day one of the Japanese TrialGP

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Defending champion Toni Bou - Repsol Honda maintained his unbeaten run with victory on the opening day of TrialGP Japan, which marked round two of the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship, held at the Honda owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit on Saturday.

The thirty-year-old Spanish superstar, who is bidding to win his eleventh straight title, started the day with two fives in the first three sections before stringing together a series of strong rides to record a comfortable victory.

Overnight rain had greatly increased the severity of the fifteen sections and even after many of them were eased the course provided a tough test for the twenty-one TrialGP riders.

With his first lap score of twenty-six giving him a six-mark advantage over Britain's James Dabill - Gas Gas, on lap two Bou simply motored clear. While the rest of the entry struggled as mud was dragged onto the rocks, he mastered the slippery conditions to slash four marks off his lap one total and win by twenty-four marks.

"It's Honda's home and a very important event for me," says Bou. "I had a strong ride so I'm very happy with my result and happy for the fans. A fantastic day."

"I‰Ûªm really happy with the way the start of the championship is going and with the way that I‰Ûªm riding in particular," Bou continued, "We have had two trials in the wet which are the type that I get on with best, but I‰Ûªm starting to get used to it.

"The trial was very complicated and the victory is very important not just because the rivals have had different results, but also because it is the ‰Û÷home‰Ûª GP for Honda and all the top directors came down to see us. A perfect start and I hope that tomorrow the trial will be as selective; here it‰Ûªs really easy to make a mistake but we will continue to try and obtain the victory."

Yesterday's top qualifier, Dabill took full advantage of starting at the back two places behind Bou. carefully studying the World Champion's lines, Dabill was a strong second after the first lap and even after a run of five maximums on lap two he maintained his position to finish two marks clear of Japan's

"I've matched my career-best result so I'm really, really happy," says Dabill. "Starting last was a big help and I used it to my advantage, especially on the first lap. It was close in the end, but we did enough on the first lap."
Toni Bou in action
Takahisa Fujinami was gifted a record twenty-seventh podium finish at Twin Ring Motegi by a costly second lap error from Jeroni Fajardo - Vertigo which dropped the Spaniard to fourth, one mark behind the Japanese fan favourite.

"This podium finish is really important to me," Fujinami said. "It‰Ûªs not just one more podium, but a podium on home soil at Honda‰Ûªs home as well. It‰Ûªs the first podium of the season and I‰Ûªve achieved it in a really tough trial with each lap of the course different each time round. Plus there were a lot of contenders for the podium. I‰Ûªm very happy with the third place. Tomorrow we will battle to finish on top again. It won‰Ûªt be easy but we try our best as always."

After his mistake in qualification, Spain's Adam Raga clearly struggled with his early starting number and despite staging a second lap comeback ended the day fifth - his lowest finishing position for five years - but still comfortably ahead of compatriots Jaime Busto - Repsol Honda and Jorge Casales - Beta who ended the day sixth and seventh respectively.

Albert Cabestany - Sherco was another rider who started near the front and the Spaniard, third at the opening round, could only manage an eighth-placed finish today.

France's Gael Chatagno - Gas Gas won a closely contested Trial2 competition, eventually running out five marks clear of Spain's Francesc Moret - Honda. British hopeful Iwan Roberts - Beta was third and moves into the championship lead.

Britain's Toby Martyn - Vertigo was in line for a podium finish but picked up a maximum on the final section when his safety lanyard became detached, killing his engine.

Victory in Trial125 went to rising British star Billy Green whose eventual seven-mark winning margin over round one winner Lorenzo Gandola - Scorpa from Italy could have been much bigger. Spain's Eric Miquel - TRS was third.

Better weather is forecast for Sunday's second and closing day, but even if drier conditions prevail Sunday's test is sure to be another tough one.

Main Photo: Toni Bou

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