Toni Bou – Repsol Honda clinched the 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship, his ninth successive title in this series, after he took the victory at the penultimate round held in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Bou was once again in a class of his own on the night and relied on Jeroni Fajardo – Beta taking the runners up spot at round five to seal the championship with one event still remaining as his main title rival Adam Raga – Gas Gas was demoted to third on this occasion. Bou now holds an insurmountable advantage of twenty-one points in the general standings following his fourth win of the season at an event where Albert Cabestany – Sherco rounded out the top four.
Germany’s Franz Kadlec – Beta got qualification in progress, it was to prove to be a tough ask for the young wild card rider as he made it to the end of just two out of the seven sections for a total score of thirty marks. His riding partner Eddie Karlsson – Montesa was as spectacular and entertaining as ever in his approach and finished his lap on twenty-six marks to be the best contender of the first pairing. After a torrid campaign to date James Dabill – Vertigo produced by far his best performance of the series thus far, as he became the first and one of only four riders to climb the huge step in the second hazard. Dabill’s score of twenty-one marks was four better than Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco and gave the British rider his first real hope of making it through to a final this year.
The next pairing of Cabestany and Fajardo continued to show just how difficult the seven sections were during qualification. Fajardo fived the opening two hazards to give himself a real uphill struggle to make it through to the last four, however his two dab on the towering stairs in the final section put him level on marks with Dabill and set up a spicy tie-break in the dual lane race. Raga and Bou were the last duo to take to the arena floor, their arrival bringing a noisy cheer from the capacity crowd as the series returned to Austria for the first time since 2003.
Bou was typically majestic throughout his opening lap with only a five on the penultimate skip section, which stopped all the riders, blotting an otherwise almost unblemished performance. Toni’s total of six marks put him ten clear of Raga who saw his tally rise by ten in the closing two hazards when he too failed the skip and then the final step on the oversized wooden stairs. Fajardo and Dabill were forced to race twice to decide the last place in the final after the first sprint was ruled a dead heat. Fajardo was to eventually make it an all-Spanish final once again as Dabill cruelly crashed out in the re-run.
Fajardo beat Cabestany in the first race to decide start order in the final, which forced the Sherco rider to open the seven sections ridden in the reverse direction this time. Fajardo’s reign in the dual lane was ended by Raga, who in turn was then defeated by Bou in the next head to head contest. All four finalists failed the opening log section, and Bou was the only rider to escape the massive step in the next hazard as he moved clear of the field, a position he would then not surrender. Raga sealed his own fate as he fell from the rocks in the third section where all his rivals made it through. Cabestany was never in the hunt and had to give better to Fajardo and Raga for the lower podium places, which were settled in last section of the night. Bou ran out an easy winner by thirteen marks to seal his ninth consecutive crown in this series. Toni has now won a total of seventeen FIM Individual World Championships.
The 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship will come to a close in Oviedo, Spain next Friday, with the fight between Cabestany and Fajardo for third place in the final rankings separated by just three points, whilst Raga will look to secure the runners up spot in the series which he holds with some comfort at this late point in the campaign.
Photo credit – FIM / Good-Shoot