An exquisite Toni Bou - Repsol Montesa proved once again why he is head and shoulders above his rivals as he completed his two-night dominance at round three of the 2012 FIM X-Trial World Championship in Marseille, France. The unrelenting Catalan outclassed his challengers for the second night in a row, cruising to a comfortable victory five marks clear of runner-up Adam Raga - Gas Gas. Albert Cabestany - Sherco completed the all-Spanish podium at the Palais des Sports arena, seven marks adrift of his slightly younger arch-rival and compatriot.
Bou laid bare his intent twenty-four hours earlier as he emerged from seven difficult sections during qualification having amassed just four marks. Despite picking up a further two courtesy of a time penalty no others came close to his score, the tough course punishing the World’s best Trial riders for the smallest of mistakes. Bou was the sole rider not to five section three, and the only rider not to pick up maximum marks in at least one section. Raga, meanwhile, was riding well. He was the best of the rest on Friday night, but Cabestany was close behind, setting the scene for a tense showdown between the two Spaniards in Saturday’s final.
The gruelling hazards took their toll on some of the less experienced protagonists, with Michael Brown - Gas Gas fiving every section in qualification and Alfredo Gomez – Montesa fairing little better. Alexandre Ferrer - Sherco performed a touch better, but was punished heavily for time, while Pol Tarres - Jotagas showed glimpses of promises on his JTG debut. All four failed to progress to Saturday’s semi-final. Loris Gubian - Gas Gas roused his home crowd with an inspired performance on Friday. However, the Frenchman’s luck ran out in the semi-final as he was relegated alongside Jeroni Fajardo - Beta. The latter was extremely disappointed with his below par performance.
Come the final Bou made a rare mistake, losing his balance in section five and picking up maximum points. It was his sole error in what was one of his most polished rides this season. Bou’s team mate, Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa was less graceful over the big steps. The Japanese rider’s flamboyant style and over-enthusiasm saw him crash out of a dual lane race spectacularly, his bike flying over the crowd barriers to gasps from the audience. It was the most dramatic of his exploits over the two-day event, and it resulted in a fourth place finish.
Cabestany was angry at himself for making a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes on Saturday night. His third place was by no means a disaster, but it does mean he leaves Marseille tied on points with Raga in the championship standings. Raga was more upbeat and satisfied with his riding. The series now takes a five-week break before commencing again in Madrid in early March, where Bou will attempt to keep his one-hundred per cent record intact and make it four wins from four rounds. Right now, few would bet against him if his swagger in Marseille was anything to go by.
1. Toni Bou - 7
2. Adam Raga - 12
3. Albert Cabestany - 19
4. Takahisa Fujinami - 29
5. Jeroni Fajardo - 18
6. Loris Gubian - 19
Pol Tarres 32
Alfredo Gomez 33
Michael Brown 35
Alexandre Ferrer 40
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Full results from this event are available for download in PDF format: