Trials

Toni Bou Takes Championship Lead At 2023 TrialGP of San Marino

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Toni Bou at the At 2023 TrialGP of San Marino
Toni Bou took the win on day one at the 2023 TrialGP of San Marino to take the championship lead by 5 points

Defending champion Toni Bou bounced back to the top on the opening day of action at the TrialGP of San Marino – round four of the Hertz FIM Trial World Championship.

Also, thanks to his team-mate Gabriel Marcelli pushing Jaime Busto back into third, moved into a five-point lead as the series reached the halfway point.

Bou and Busto have been locked together since the start of the season in a game of cat and mouse that has seen the pair exchange wins and second-placed finishes with neither being able to break free, but on a super-tough day at Baldasserona the sixteen-time champion put in a dominant performance.

The sections were in a steep dry riverbed where huge polished boulders provided a fitting challenge for the best Trial riders on the planet. Recent heavy rain – which meant the sections originally plotted near the paddock could not be used – ensured that there was some running water and no shortage of mud and when this was dragged onto the rocks the result was a severe shortage of grip. Fortunately, further heavy rain that was forecast did not materialise or scores would have been much higher.

In a pressure-cooker environment, Bou established a clear lead as early as section four on the opening lap and from then on the thirty-six-year-old looked in complete control.

With time tight towards the close of lap one Bou opted to take a maximum on section twelve, but even so, his first-lap total of ten on observation was increased by an additional three time penalties. However, Busto, Marcelli and Adam Raga all had a further three on time added to their totals and at the halfway point Bou sat on thirteen with Busto and Marcelli neck and neck on twenty-seven and Raga one mark behind.

Toni Bou at the At 2023 TrialGP of San Marino
Gabriel Marcelli claimed second place for the first time in the TrialGP World Championship and is third overall in the series.

Firmly in the driving seat, Bou put in another consistent lap and added an extra eleven on observation plus one-time penalty to run out a clear winner, but for once the focus was on the fight for second spot with Busto and Marcelli trading places throughout the final lap.

With a one-mark advantage heading into section twelve – a twisting route over imposing rocks before a super-steep exit up an almost gripless grass banking – Marcelli managed to scramble through for a three. This put the pressure firmly on Busto whose maximum relegated him to the final step of the all-Spanish podium as his younger rival recorded a career-best finish in the premier class.

“I’m very happy, as it was possibly our best race of the season,” Bou said. “On the first lap we got a good lead and I’m happy with today’s work. It is a campaign in which there are many riders fighting for victory and it is important not to make mistakes. There are some slippery areas so it’s easy to make mistakes. We’ve got a bit of an advantage in the championship so tomorrow we have to be very careful and try to give it our all.”

Gabriel Marcelli was elated with his first-ever TrialGP World Championship runner-up placing.

“We are very happy with second place today,” Marcelli said. “The Trial was rather difficult. The zones were very slippery and it was very easy to make mistakes. I think I rode quite well, especially on the second lap. I managed to gain positions and in the end, we took second place, which is great for the championship. It is my first second place in the TrialGP World Championship. We are super happy and we hope that tomorrow things will go just as well.”

Having parted company with the Vertigo factory at the start of the month, Italy’s Matteo Grattarola was back with Beta and back on form as he came home in fourth thanks to a three on section twelve where Raga’s last-lap maximum dropped him to fifth.

The action from Baldasserona resumes tomorrow.

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