Trials

Toni Bou and Emma Bristow Double Up At TrialGP of Japan

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Toni Bou made the perfect start to the 2024 championship with a pair of wins. Photo: Futre7Media

Toni Bou and Emma Bristow maintained their perfect starts to the 2024 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship on day two of the Taisei Rotec TrialGP of Japan with winning performances in the premier TrialGP and TrialGP Women classes to back up their victories yesterday while Jack Peace finished today on top in Trial2.

With the severity of a number of sections at the Mobility Resort Motegi slightly increased following Saturday’s opening day of action, record-breaking Bou – who is attempting to win his eighteenth straight TrialGP crown this season – put on a masterclass in front of a huge crowd of twelve-thousand spectators.

While rain threatened, the day remained warm and dry resulting in similar conditions to yesterday with grip still a rare commodity on the near-vertical climbs and descents and over the huge imported boulders that featured in the majority of sections, but the Spanish star took everything in his stride.

A maximum on section six when he was adjudged to have rolled backwards with his foot down was the only major blot on his opening lap of ten that gave him a four-mark advantage ahead of a revitalised Adam Raga with Gabriel Marcelli, who was second yesterday, completing the all-Spanish top three at the halfway point on fifteen.

Trial fans are used to seeing Bou soak up the pressure in close events before turning up the heat on his opposition and he did not disappoint with his second-lap total of nine putting victory out of his rivals’ reach.

“I’m super-happy with the weekend,” said Bou. “Two wins is the best way to start the championship. I made a few mistakes today, but I rode well and a big thank you to the team for making this possible.”

At forty-two years of age, two-time champion Raga is the veteran of the class, but his change of teams and machinery over the off-season has clearly motivated the veteran and by adding just eleven more to his score on lap two he secured a comfortable second place – his best finish since 2022 – as twenty-four-year-old Marcelli collected an additional sixteen.

Marcelli’s hopes of catching Raga were effectively ended on section ten where he was desperately unlucky to collect a maximum on lap two when he punctured, although this late drama never threatened to drop him off the podium and he was still seven clear of his compatriot Aniol Gelabert at the end of the day.

The top five was completed by French rider Benoit Bincaz who finished one position higher than yesterday on a total of forty-three after reeling in Italy’s Matteo Grattarola in the tense closing stages.

There was more misery for Jaime Busto, the TrialGP vice-champion for the last two seasons. Technical problems restricted the Spaniard to ninth yesterday and he struggled again today, slumping to a below-par seventh that is a major blow to his hopes of dethroning Bou at the end of the season.

Emma Bristow once again topped the podium in the women’s class. Photo: Futre7Media

Emma Bristow is aiming to close her career in the top-flight with a tenth TrialGP Women title in eleven years and the thirty-three-year-old British star, who plans to retire at the end of the season, claimed her second win of the weekend – although it was a close-run thing.

Spain’s Berta Abellan put in a sensational opening lap of just two to lead the defending champion by eleven before suffering technical problems at the halfway stage of the second lap. As Bristow picked up the pace, adding just five to her total, Abellan piled up the marks in the final seven sections of the Trial and she slipped to third on a total of thirty-seven, ten behind Andrea Sofia Rabino from Italy.

“I rode a lot better on the last lap and didn’t have any silly fives,” said Bristow. “I think that was my fiftieth GP win so I’m really proud. I’m very happy, but the hard work continues.”

Completing an identical top five to yesterday, Naomi Monnier and Alice Minta ended the day in fourth and fifth, although this time around the French rider’s score of forty-three put her just two ahead of the twenty-year-old British talent.

Jack Peace at 2024 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship in Motegi, Japan. Photo: Future7Media

Trial2 is always a close-fought class with multiple title contenders and today it was British rider Jack Peace who staked an early claim to the crown with a narrow three-mark win ahead of Alex Canales from Spain with France’s Gael Chatagno a further one mark behind in third.

Peace broke free from the chasing pack on the first lap with his total of three putting him five ahead of yesterday’s winner Sondre Haga and eight clear of Canales. It proved to be a decisive advantage and despite three maximums on lap two Peace was able to defend his lead from Canales and Chatagno as Haga dropped out of contention and back to fifth behind Britain’s Jack Dance who failed to finish yesterday.

“I had a really good second lap yesterday and I carried that form into today,” said Peace. “I was nice and relaxed and had a brilliant first lap. I made a few mistakes on the second, but it was still good enough to get the win so I’m really happy.”

The result sees Peace lead the championship on thirty-three points, just one ahead of a two-way tie for second between Chatagno and Canales with Haga another point behind in fourth

The focus now shifts to Sant Julià de Lòria, high in the Pyrenees, for the TrialGP of Andorra – round two of the 2024 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship – on 7-9 June where the competitors in TrialGP and Trial2 will be joined by the rising stars of the Trial3 class

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