Trials

In-form Fujinami seeks home GP win in Japan

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Before his victory at round two of the 2010 SPEA FIM Trial World Championship in April, Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa had not won a GP since 2008.

Now, with that self-assuring result still fresh in his mind, the one-time FIM Trial World champion is heading to Japan for this weekend's forthcoming Grand Prix in a buoyant mood, ready to fight for back-to-back wins on home soil.

Fujinami‰Ûªs sudden change of form and fortune, which resulted in his surprise visit to the top step of the World Championship podium on day two in Portugal, could not have come at a better time. The seasoned veteran will now be brimming with confidence and with an excellent track record at his home Grand Prix, the popular and amiable thirty-year-old will be hopeful of a incident free trial and yet another solid result.

Having finished runner-up to his redoubtable team-mate, Toni Bou - Repsol Montesa, in Japan twelve months ago, Fujinami will be well aware of the reigning World champion‰Ûªs ability to scupper his best-laid plans for a home victory. That said, Bou was uncharacteristically off colour in Portugal. His mediocre performance, which was only good enough for fourth place following a tiebreak with Dougie Lampkin - Beta, will not have sat comfortably with the normally dependable Spaniard.

Unless Bou can regain his formidable form, Fujinami may feel he has measure. However, the experienced Japanese rider is too savvy a competitor to completely disregard the threat from Bou. Not to mention the notable menace that exists in the form of equally capable championship protagonists like Adam Raga - Gas Gas and Albert Cabestany - Sherco.

Fujinami, who won his World Outdoor title in 2004 after scoring a double win at Motegi that year, has bagged podium finishes during his last three trips to Japan. In fact, his consistency on home turf is impeccable. Fujigas has only dropped off the podium once (in 2006), since the championship‰Ûªs first visit to the region in 2000.

So while Bou, thanks to his incredible dominance in recent years, is arguably the favourite to reign supreme in the Land of the Rising Sun, he would be a fool to dismiss his team-mate. Fujinami is a serious threat to Bou‰Ûªs ambition, that of extending his series lead in Japan. Fujigas meanwhile, is motivated not only by a victory in front of friends and family, but also by the notion of leapfrogging Raga to second place in the overall standings.

One thing is for sure, with Bou looking to address his performance in Portugal and Fujinami seeking to impress his HRC bosses, the people who are guaranteed to benefit from the showdown is the neutral fans. This trial has all the ingredients to be one of the highlights of the season and thanks to its two-day format, it may also have a significant bearing on the championship‰Ûªs outcome as the series progresses.

Main Photo: Takahisa Fujinami

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