Fajardo got the better of James Dabill ‰ÛÒ Gas Gas in their initial sprint duel and the Spanish rider was to continue his superiority through the observed hazards too as he completed qualification for a mere six marks. This proved to be some eleven marks in front of Dabill who did not enjoy the best of nights in his new colours as he finished in a disappointing seventh.
Just a few fractions of a second split Takahisa Fujinami ‰ÛÒ Repsol Honda and Cabestany ‰ÛÒafter they raced around the speed section, with the Japanese veteran edging this first test. However, Fujinami failed to use this initial gain and with a total loss of twelve marks had to be content with sixth spot on this occasion. After a shaky start Cabestany recovered well to book his place in the final as he parted with six marks in all.
The final pairing of Bou and Raga started with Toni winning the sprint, before the two favourites then surprisingly fived the first section to leave themselves with little room for any further errors over the remaining four hazards, if they were going to make it through to the four-rider final. Confirming their absolute pedigree both Bou and Raga managed to stay clean for the rest of the lap to join Cabestany and Fajardo in the next part of the competition.
Typically it did not take long for Bou to establish a clear lead as the final came to life, his clean in the second section set the tone and by the time he became the only rider to be faultless in the fourth hazard the writing was already on the wall for his last remaining rivals.
Confirming his absolute superiority Toni cleaned seven out the eight sections in the final to end the night sixteen marks ahead of Raga, although Adam‰Ûªs score could have been slightly better if he had not chosen to be so extrovert in the closing watery zone. In reality Fajardo and Cabestany were never at the party and just became embroiled in a struggle to secure the last rostrum position. Jeroni was quickest in the speed section tie-break to seal his maiden podium place for Vertigo in the FIM X-Trial World Championship.
"I‰Ûªm happy for many reasons: to have started the world championship with a win; to have done it in Barcelona and for the 40th anniversary of the competition too," Bou said. "The night has been incredible and all this after a fault in the first section in the qualifying round. But I was able to pull back and the final was fantastic. The public were able to really enjoy it ‰ÛÒ it has been a great show and there was a fantastic buzz in the place. That‰Ûªs as good as it gets."
Main Photo: Toni Bou