Sublime Spaniard Toni Bou tightened his grip on the Hertz FIM Trial World Championship with victory at the TrialGP of Belgium – round four of the 2022 series – at Comblain au Pont.
The 35-year-old is aiming to claim an astonishing 16th consecutive TrialGP title this year and, after trailing his compatriot Jaime Busto at the halfway point, he upped his game on lap two to run out a comfortable winner and in the process extend his series lead to 26 points with just three scoring days remaining.
The sections were plotted in a quarry and on a severe wooded hillside overlooking the medieval town with the lay-out very spectator-friendly for a big turn-out of trial fans who flocked to the venue after a pandemic-enforced absence of two years.
Conditions were dry but humid in the east of Belgium which meant that fitness played a big part in the results – and there’s no one better prepared than Bou who has dominated the sport since 2007.
The toughest hazard was section nine which was perilously steep and super-technical with a series of huge rock steps with little in the way of run-up and only Bou and Adam Raga made it to the ends cards on the opening lap.
Busto, who took just his second career victory on the first day of the series in Spain back in June, led Bou by three after the opening lap but – as seen on countless occasions – the reigning champ has the ability to soak up pressure like a sponge.
After parting with 15 on his opening lap plus one on time, Bou raised his game and recorded the lowest score of the event the second time around to pick up an additional 11 marks which gave him an eventual winning margin of eight ahead of Busto who incurred two time penalties.
“It was a very tight race, where we couldn’t make many mistakes,” Bou said. “On the first lap we made errors in sections 3 and 11, where we dropped a lot of points. On the second lap, I came out very focused, trying not to make mistakes in order to pull back, although I made a big mistake in Section 2, which I was attempting to clean. I took some risks that could have been avoided which made the trial all the more tricky. Fortunately, from then on, I rode very well, stayed focused on the goal and in the end we were able to seal another win in Comblain-au-Pont. I am very pleased. I felt at ease on the bike and I was able to fend off my rivals, even though I’m not a rider who specialises in terrain like today’s. In terms of the championship, it’s a very important win. It’s great to pick up points here and to continue to gain points on our rivals for the title.”
After narrowly missing out on a podium finish on both days at the previous round in Germany, Jeroni Fajardo was back on the box in third just two marks adrift of Busto as Gabriel Marcelli and Raga completed the all-Spanish top five.
Fans now have less than a week to wait before round five of the 2022 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship – the TrialGP of France – is staged at Cahors over the weekend of August 27-28.