X-Trial made a triumphant return to Wiener Neustadt, Austria, for the first time since 2017 with a spectacular night of entertainment and with a new winner.
Previously unbeaten at the Arena Nova, Toni Bou succumbed to Jaime Busto, the Basque youngster claiming only the third victory of his career.
A crucial pair of errors from Championship leader Bou in Section Two of the Final left him chasing Busto throughout, and under pressure, a further failure in Section Four dropped him into a fight for second with Adam Raga. Busto, seven marks ahead two sections from the finish, was able to wrap up his first win of the 2023 season with a ride to spare. Bou, meanwhile, held his nerve with a sensational Section Six performance to end the night on a relative high and exercise some damage limitation in the Championship Standings.
Bou also claimed both available bonus points for topping the opening two Rounds of the night. In Round One, Gabriel Marcelli and Aniol Gelabert were the closest to matching him, falling just a single mark short. But both conceded significant advantages over Busto and Raga that saw them slip out of the top three places and eliminated for an early shower. Marcelli, second at X-Trial Barcelona, thus drops to third in the Championship after missing out on the podium places. Meanwhile Gelabert, in his first X-Trial appearance since 2019, was only seventh in Round Two and as a result, dropped to fifth on the night. Benoit Bincaz finished just four marks from the podium but in another close-fought X-Trial that was only good enough for sixth.
“I am very happy with this win and to have done it here in Austria, the home of Gas Gas,” Busto said. “In the first couple of Rounds I made a few mistakes that thankfully weren’t too costly, but in the Final I really concentrated and rode at a high level, so it was almost perfect.”
It was a tough night, meanwhile, for Toby Martyn, with six fiascos from ten sections leaving him seventh. Matteo Grattarola failed four of his first five sections to end another disastrous night eighth. And local Wild Card Marco Mempör impressed on his debut, finishing Round One in seventh, but he dropped back from the pace to finish at the back of the pack.
Bou was not too disappointed with the second and still has control of the championship lead.
“It isn’t a bad result in terms of the Championship, the first two Rounds I rode at a high level and then I was able to get second thanks to a clean in the last section. Obviously, the Final wasn’t one of my best, my failures in Sections Two and Four may have cost me the win,” Bou said.
Adam Raga was satisfied with third on a tricky night. “I am happy to be back on the podium,” Raga said. “It was a difficult X-Trial but third place is a good result. In the first Round, I felt very at ease, but the second was tougher, and then in the Final, I had a mixture of strong rides and a few errors. I need to keep following this path to be even more competitive next time.”
The X-Trial World Championship now moves on to Round Three of the 2023 campaign with a first visit to Pamplona and the Navarra Arena on 25th March.