Whilst Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa has already wrapped up the 2013 FIM X-Trial World Championship with a round to spare, the final encounter of the series this Friday evening in Nice, France promises to be a fierce fight with three of his Spanish compatriots all in with a chance of becoming vice World champion. Adam Raga – Gas Gas holds a slender single point lead over his long-standing arch-rival Albert Cabestany – Sherco ahead of the decisive showdown, who in turn is under pressure from Jeroni Fajardo – Beta who sits only a further three points adrift in this intense three-way scrap.
Form would show that Raga has the momentum in his favour with him having finished as runner-up to Bou at the previous round in Germany, where Fajardo placed third and Cabestany slumped to a damaging fifth. However as the results have shown across the season, form counts for very little with all three riders having struggled to find any kind of consistency over the four rounds to date. In truth it will probably be very much down to who handles the pressure better on the night, which may just play in to thirty-two year old Cabestany’s hands.
Adding tension to the occasion will be the fact that Bou will be in no mood to surrender his 100% winning record even though he may have just recently collected his seventh successive FIM World title in this discipline. Bou's undefeated run dates back to January 2010 when he was beaten by Cabestany in Marseille. Since then Toni has notched up twenty victories on the bounce. His teammate Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Montesa will also look to play his part in the French drama as he bids to be back on the podium like he was in both Barcelona and Malaga before failing to ride to his true potential in Bielefeld.
Depending on how things eventually play out in Nice, Fujinami could yet steal fourth place from Fajardo in the final rankings with the highly popular Japanese rider only five points adrift of the Beta teamster. Thanks to his two strong wild card outings earlier in the season James Dabill – Beta currently occupies sixth spot in the general rankings, but will not be in France to defend his position. Homeboy Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco needs to place seventh or higher on the night to overtake the British rider in the final championship table and to up hold French pride.
In the last remaining scrap amongst the eight permanent riders who qualified to contest all five rounds of the series this year, Jack Challoner – Beta and Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas are separated by a mere two points heading into Friday evening’s deciding contest. The Italian rider holds the advantage at this stage. Challoner found himself in last spot in Germany, and will need to hope for a change in fortunes if he is to overcome his elder rival.
Although Nice played host to the inaugural FIM X-Trial des Nations event last year, it will be the first time the French seaside city has been a part of the individual World championship since 2004. Back then it was a much younger Adam Raga who took the win ahead of Cabestany on route to taking his second of four FIM Indoor Trial World Championships. Whilst the other riders are sure to have their own self-biased thoughts, Raga will be hoping it is a case of deja-vu come Friday night. Let battle commence for one last time, well for this season at least.