Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami take a win apiece at Honda’s home GP


Repsol Montesa HRC team mates Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami, both riding their factory Cota 4RT machines, each won a day of the Japanese Grand Prix, as the event held at Honda‰Ûªs Twin Ring circuit, Motegi got the 2013 FIM Trial World Championship underway.

Bou won the opening day ahead of Gas Gas mounted Adam Raga and Sherco's Albert Cabestany, whilst Fujinami placed fourth on Saturday.

However Fujinami was to make up for his slow start by snatching a last gasp victory from Beta's Jeroni Fajardo, just twenty-four hours later as Bou had to fight his way back onto the podium on day two.

The 2013 GP marked the fourteenth consecutive year that the Japanese Trial Grand Prix has been hosted at Honda‰Ûªs famous Twin Ring circuit at Motegi. The permanent motorsports facility once again provided a testing array of hazards on the perimeter of the tarmac track, with many of the sections consisting of carefully placed boulders on the surrounding steep wooded hillsides.

The re-introduction of the no-stop rule where riders must now maintain forward motion added a new dimension to competition, with the emphasis being on longer and wider sections of a more flowing nature.

Rain late on Friday afternoon forced local organisers to make changes to several of the hazards prior to Saturday‰Ûªs competition getting underway. The slippery conditions and new rules saw a nervous start to the trial for many riders, however these factors only had a limited effect on Bou.

He immediately opened up a five mark lead over Raga come the end of the first lap, as the old rivals locked into battle once again and moved clear of the chasing pack. Only Cabestany was on the same page after the initial lap.

Over the closing two laps of twelve sections and in drying conditions due the sun overhead, Bou further stretched his advantage both over Raga, and over the rest of the entry. Whilst on each of his three laps he recorded one failure, Toni on board his recently upgraded factory Cota 4RT, made few other errors despite the tricky going.

Bou‰Ûªs winning margin of twenty marks clearly illustrated the scale of his opening victory, and must have served as a worrying message to the other main protagonists. Fujinami got his 2013 started with a solid fourth place, and only six marks away from a podium finish.

‰ÛÏOverall I can be satisfied with my results and to be leading the championship, but today has not been perfect for me." Bou stated. "The small problem with the bike made me nervous especially with the new no-stop rules, but after the initial disaster I made some incredible riding on the final two laps to bring me back to the podium.

"In my absence it is great that Fujinami won today, as we have shared the victories at this important GP for Honda, and just after we have received the new engine. So I want to thank and to congratulate the whole team for this joint success.

"Now I am looking forward to the next GP, but still I cannot say I am happy or confident about the new rules," he added.
Fujinami secured a home round win on day two - Credit: Honda Racing
Many expected Bou to make it two wins in a row when Sunday‰Ûªs event started under clear blue skies, but his faultless run was to come to an unexpected halt when he stalled his bike in section seven, which was later diagnosed as being due to a slight electronic mapping error.

This certainly broke Toni‰Ûªs concentration and when his hand slipped off the handlebar as he attacked the final part of the next section, he knew he was now involved in a real battle as he ended the first lap down in eighth place and well off the leading pace.

In contrast Fujinami was keeping the pressure on the early leader Fajardo who was having the ride of his life to lose only four marks over the first two laps. Bou was to surpass this achievement as he fought his way back up the order, by dropping just two marks for his closing two laps.

Although this was not enough to secure victory, Toni at least booked his place on the podium. Takahisa used the large and noisy home crowd to his advantage and applied pressure to Fajardo at exactly the right moment with a string of outstanding rides that eventually saw the Spanish rider crack.

Fujinami‰Ûªs victory was well deserved and was his first since 2010.

‰ÛÏThis is an incredibly important and special victory for me." Fukinami stated. "To win in front of my home fans is the best feeling you can have.

"They have had to wait for this latest victory in Motegi for sometime now and I could really feel their support today especially towards the end of the trial.

"Jeroni made a really strong two opening laps, but I managed to keep him within my reach. I was pushing hard on the last lap, and then finally it came down to the last section to take the win.

"I want to thank Honda so much for the new engine as it made the difference today. I hope I can now continue this level when we go to the USA," he concluded.

Bou and Fujinami hold first and second places in the general standings respectively after the opening GP. The Repsol Montesa HRC duo will take a short break before resuming battle in the USA next month.
Day one Podium - Credit: Honda Racing
Motegi results Day 1:
1. Toni Bou 25 ESP MONTESA HONDA Montesa Honda
2. Adam Raga 45 SPA GAS GAS Gas Gas
3. Albert Cabestany 63 SPA SHERCO Sherco
4. Takahisa Fujinami 69 JPN MONTESA HONDA Montesa Honda
5. Jeroni Fajardo 74 SPA BETA Beta
6. James Dabill 77 GBR BETA Beta
7. Tomoyuki Ogawa 90 JPN HONDA Honda
8. Michael Brown 95 GBR GAS GAS Gas Gas
9. Kenichi Kuroyama 106 JPN YAMAHA Yamaha
10. Jack Challoner 115 GBR BETA Beta
11. Fumitaka Nozaki 131 JPN YAMAHA Yamaha
12. Alexandre Ferrer 137 FRA SHERCO Sherco
13. Matteo Grattarola 144 ITA GAS GAS Gas Gas
14. Yoshiaki Nomoto 152 JPN BETA Beta
15. Daniel Oliveras 154 SPA OSSA OSSA
Day Two Podium - Credit: Honda Racing
Motegi results Day 2:
1. Takahisa Fujinami 16 JPN MONTESA HONDA Montesa Honda
2. Jeroni Fajardo 19 SPA BETA Beta
3. Toni Bou 20 ESP MONTESA HONDA Montesa Honda
4. Adam Raga 22 SPA GAS GAS Gas Gas
5. James Dabill 26 GBR BETA Beta
6. Albert Cabestany 39 SPA SHERCO Sherco
7. Michael Brown 40 GBR GAS GAS Gas Gas
8. Fumitaka Nozaki 55 JPN YAMAHA Yamaha
9. Kenichi Kuroyama 63 JPN YAMAHA Yamaha
10. Jack Challoner 70 GBR BETA Beta
11. Tomoyuki Ogawa 72 JPN HONDA Honda
12. Alexandre Ferrer 79 FRA SHERCO Sherco
13. Matteo Grattarola 85 ITA GAS GAS Gas Gas
14. Tsubasa Matsuura 94 JPN HONDA Honda
15. Daniel Oliveras 98 SPA OSSA OSSA

Championship Standings:
1. Toni Bou 35 pts
2. Takahisa Fujinami 33 pts
3. Adam Raga 30 pts
4. Jeroni Fajardo 28 pts
5. Albert Cabestany 25 pts
6. James Dabill 21 pts
7. Michael Brown 17 pts
8. Tomoyuki Ogawa 14 pts
9. Kenichi Kuroyama 14 pts
10. Fumitaka Nozaki 13 pts
11. Jack Challoner 12 pts
12. Alexandre Ferrer 8 pts
13. Matteo Grattarola 6 pts
14. Yoshiaki Nomoto 2 pts
15. Tsubasa Matsuura 2 pts
16. Daniel Oliveras 2 pts

Top Image: Toni Bou took the first win for the 2013 season
Credit: Honda Racing

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