Repsol Honda rider Toni Bou goes into this Friday’s final round of the 2016 FIM X-Trial World Championship in Marseille, France as hot favourite to lift his tenth straight crown in this series in ten years, following the result of last Saturday’s round in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
After sharing a win and a second place apiece with Adam Raga - TRS in the opening two rounds, Bou finally broke clear of his archrival Raga with a clear win. Toni’s plight was further helped by Albert Cabestany – Sherco who enjoyed his best ride of the series to take second place on the night, pushing Raga down to third in an exciting head to head race-off after they finished level on seventeen marks apiece. The result of this is that Bou travels to Marseille with an eight-point lead in the general standings over Raga.
Last year, Marseille represented the second round of the series and the result was a comfortable win for Bou – even though he fived the last section whilst trying to entertain the crowd. The final had a very familiar look with an all Catalan final four, the result being Bou, Raga, Cabestany and then Jeroni Fajardo – now Vertigo mounted which, by a small coincidence is the exact championship placings going into Marseille this year.
These four will be joined by popular Japanese veteran Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda, home rider Alexandre Ferrer - Sherco and Sweden’s Eddie Karlsson – Montesa, as the fixed riders. The wild card entrant on this occasion will be Repsol Honda’s rising star Jaime Busto. Busto, aged eighteen, also lined up in Barcelona just last month and though he finished eighth, Jaime is highly talented and will be looking to improve on this result given a second opportunity.
Like previous editions in Marseille the event is expected to be high on technical content which very often levels the playing field and makes for a close contest.
Bou starts as hot favourite and should he win, or finish second, then he will be crowned champion for sure. But it is not all over by a long shot as there will be an immense amount of pressure on Toni on the night. Raga won in Sheffield with an amazing ride and he can do it again. And if he does this and Cabestany, or Fajardo, or Fujinami hit form and Bou makes a mistake, just one slip could make the difference, and Toni finishes third – then Raga would become King.
The leading pair would be level on points, but Raga would take the title on a championship tiebreaker, which would go in favour of the rider with the best placing in the last event due to them being unable to be separated via their other results being entirely equal.
So just who will win the 2016 FIM X-Trial World Championship is still to be decided, and Marseille this Friday is where and when the question will be answered.