Toni Bou moved to within touching distance of the 2022 TrialGP title at the TrialGP of France – the fifth and penultimate round of the 2022 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship.
Staged at Cahors on a sweltering day, the opening five sections were plotted in a quarry where competitors went head-to-head on steep, loose bankings studded with daunting rock steps. From here it was down to the banks of a nearby river and a series of massive, man-made sections comprising enormous rock steps and yet more heart-stoppingly steep bankings.
Bou set a furious pace from the start and established an early lead with just a single mark lost on section three where the rest of the TrialGP field all picked up maximums. This feat was repeated on section 11 which featured a monster triple step on the exit that looked impossible on first inspection and claimed first-lap fives from everyone apart from Bou who skipped through for a dab at his first attempt.
The Spaniard, who’s aiming for a record-breaking 16th-straight title this season, was on six marks lost at the halfway stage which handed him an eight-mark advantage over compatriot Jaime Busto with Miquel Gelabert a further three adrift in third.
On lap two Bou picked up his first maximum of the trial on section three but added just one more mark to his total to end the day on 12.
Following an expensive opening lap, Adam Raga pulled things together on lap two with his score of seven lifting him up to second on 25, two ahead of Italy’s Matteo Grattarola who produced a brilliant nine-mark performance on lap two.
With just eight marks separating the leading riders it was tight at the top with Gabriel Marcelli and Gelabert completing the top five as Busto slipped to sixth after going off the boil on lap two.
“Today we got off to a very good start,” Bou said. “I felt good on the bike and that showed throughout the trial. It was a trial with few mistakes, but with the chance of messing up, so we had to be careful in the most complicated sections. The only serious error I made was in the tricky section three. Overall, we had a very complete trial, picking up just 12 marks. I’m very happy and in terms of the championship, these are very important points. In Italy we will have to have a normal race, taking care of the physical aspect and the bike too. We will go after another title, after a very good year in which we have been very consistent in all the championships.”
There are now just two scoring days to go at the TrialGP of Italy in the middle of September and Bou’s advantage over Busto – who’s the only man still in with a mathematical chance of dethroning him – is now 36 points with just 40 left up for grabs.