With Spring just around the corner, the atmosphere in Majorca’s Veledromo Palma Arena will be far from chilly this Sunday as the heat turns up for the fifth round of the 2012 FIM X-Trial World Championship. A number of battles came to the fore last weekend in Madrid when the series returned after a five-week break. So we can expect the series’ eight permanent riders to come back refuelled and ready to continue their fight for victory in Palma.
Toni Bou - Repsol Montesa once again outclassed his fellow competitors in his homeland, eventually winning by seven marks and extending his lead in the current championship standings to twenty-six points. Bou had a clean sweep victory in last year’s series, and having won all four rounds of the 2012 campaign, few would bet against him repeating this success this year.
With Bou holding a comfortable advantage, the developing battle has once again been for second place with Spanish arch rivals, Adam Raga – Gas Gas and Albert Cabestany - Sherco exchanging blows. Following an impressive performance last weekend, Raga is currently winning the battle for the runners up spot. The pair arrived in Madrid tied on points, but Raga now has the lead, after beating Cabestany by ten marks. However, there are only three points separating Raga and Cabestany in the overall standings and with three rounds remaining there is everything to play for.
Two further battles have also become apparent - the fight to make it into the semi finals (top six) and the battle to be in the finals (top four). Bou’s teammate, Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa currently holds fourth spot in the championship, seventeen points ahead of his closest rival Jeroni Fajardo - Beta. However, Fajardo has said he is much happier since rejoining the Beta team this year and having now had four rounds to acquaint himself with his new bike, we can perhaps expect greater things from him as the series reaches its climax over the coming weeks.
Loris Gubian - Gas Gas is currently sixth on the leader board, but he failed to make it through to the semi final in Madrid, clearing the path for his British teammate, Michael Brown - Gas Gas to make his 2012 top-six debut and collect additional championship points, putting him only six points behind Gubian. Brown will no doubt arrive in Palma still brimming with confidence from his improved showing in Madrid and, with ambitions of breaking into the top six overall, he will be looking to pull back further points on Gubian this weekend.
Alfredo Gomez - Montesa lags seven points behind Brown in eighth place having failed toimpress during qualification in Madrid where he fived every section and a tie-breaker that put him in disappointing ninth place behind wild card entrant, Pol Tarres. Gomez will be hoping for a much stronger outing this weekend.
So, as the 2012 FIM X-Trial World Championship prepares to make its stop in Palma, Majorca this Sunday, with seemingly all but the top spot up for grabs, the heat is most definitely on.