Following a five-week break, the 2012 FIM X-Trial World Championship will resume this coming weekend in Madrid. The much anticipated fourth out of seven rounds promises to be a feisty Spanish affair, with current frontrunner Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa hoping to continue his winning streak on home soil, whilst his nearest rivals and fellow Spaniards, Adam Raga – Gas Gas and Albert Cabestany – Sherco will also have their sights set on victory.
Few would bet against Bou making it four wins in a row, having witnessed the unstoppable Catalan consistently outclass his challengers at the three previous rounds in Strasbourg, Geneva and Marseille. Although his name literally means 'bull’, Bou is actually more like the matador of the FIM XTrial World Championship. With currently no other competitor even coming close to him in the title race, the now traditional battle to become 'the best of the rest’ will resume in Madrid, and will be led by Raga and Cabestany. The experienced Spanish duo are currently locked on the same points in the championship standings, so both will know that they need to deliver a good performance as the series reaches its mid point in Madrid.
Raga has already proved capable of putting Bou under pressure. Despite eventually finishing in a disappointing fourth place at the second round in Geneva, Raga gave Bou a run for his money during qualification, beating the series leader by a single mark – an impressive performance that Raga will be aiming to repeat as the championship moves on. Cabestany, on the other hand, left Marseille feeling frustrated after making a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes and will consequently be hoping for a much stronger showing on home soil.
Bou’s teammate and the tour’s oldest campaigner, Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Montesa once again proved fearless in Marseille, where he had suffered a freak crash that resulted in a nasty neck injury last year. The Japanese rider’s flamboyant style almost landed him in trouble once again as his over-enthusiasm saw him crash out of a dual lane race spectacularly for a second year in a row.
Fujinami currently holds fourth spot in the series standings, some thirteen points clear of the championship’s other Spanish rider Jeroni Fajardo – Beta. Hot on Fajardo’s heels is French protagonist Loris Gubian – Gas Gas who lags just one point behind Fajardo in the current rankings. At this moment Britain’s lone permanent representative in the 2012 campaign Michael Brown – Gas Gas and his Spanish rival Alfredo Gomez – Montesa hold seventh and eighth places overall respectively, with only two points separating the young pairing. Pol Tarres – Jotagas, who will be making his second appearance in the series as the lone wild card entrant, will complete the line up in Madrid.
Almost twelve months ago in the imposing arena that is the Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid, Bou clinched his fifth successive FIM Indoor / X-Trial World Championship in front of his home fans at what was the penultimate round of the 2011 series. Brimming with confidence, Toni will be out to deliver a repeat performance this Saturday and to taste victory once again for his adoring fans as well as further extending his advantage over the chasing pack.