The 2015 FIM Trial World Championship starts this coming weekend at Motegi, Japan with long reigning champion Toni Bou – Repsol Honda looking to secure an incredible and record extending ninth consecutive title to further cement his place in history as the most successful rider in the series ever. Whilst Bou has dominated the modern era of the sport his passage to take the coveted crown each season has been far from easy, and 2014 was a proving case with long time arch rival Adam Raga – Gas Gas taking the title fight to the wire.
It was only on the final day of the closing round in Spain last season that Raga eventually conceded defeat to Bou having put up a fantastic challenge throughout the year to end the campaign as the clear and worthy runner-up to his Spanish compatriot. Back to back day wins at the Japanese GP in 2014 brought Raga’s crusade to life as he left the Twin Ring circuit trailing Bou by a single point in the general standings and was to take control of the championship table as he won at the next round on the French island of Corsica. However normal service was then to be resumed thereafter as Bou took the victory in Italy and was not to surrender the series lead from that point forward. No doubt Raga will hope he can repeat his form in Japan and put Bou on the ropes early in 2015.
2014 saw Albert Cabestany – Sherco enjoy his best campaign since 2006, as he ended the year ranked third after being locked in a championship long battle with his fellow countryman Jeroni Fajardo – Beta. The previous year Fajardo had stolen the number three plate away from Cabestany by a single point at the end of the series, however last season the Sherco rider returned the favour on the Beta teamster. The fans’ favourite Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda endured a difficult and frustrating 2014, as the veteran campaigner suffered the effects of a long-term injury that saw him undergo surgery over the winter period. Working his way back to fitness Fujinami will be looking for a strong start on home soil and to at least be in touch with both Cabestany and Fajardo this weekend in Motegi.
James Dabill’s – Vertigo switch to the new Spanish brand over the closed season will certainly bring a new dimension to the championship as he looks to prove the prototype machine whilst also trying to keep his nearest challengers at bay. This could prove to be a tough task, with both Jorge Casales – Beta and Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco, already showing that despite their younger years both have the potential if they can perform to their best to do damage to the higher order in the championship. The two days of competition in Japan will provide the perfect opportunity for first blood to be drawn in this impending battle for these able protagonists to make their mark on the established top five World Pro riders.
With the two riders who finished above him in last year’s same series having moved up to the World Pro class, Quentin Carles de Caudemberg – Beta starts 2015 as the favourite to become the winner of the FIM Trial World Cup. The young French rider who won the 2013 FIM 125 Trial Cup certainly has the pedigree to repeat his earlier success, although is sure to face stiff opposition in a category packed with emerging talent. Oriol Noguera – Honda, Miquel Gelabert – Sherco and Arnau Farre – Gas Gas from Spain all promise to be in the mix as does Italy’s Filippo Locca – Beta plus Jack Price – Gas Gas and Billy Bolt – Ossa both from Great Britain.
This year the FIM 125 Trial Cup looks wide open with last year’s winner Gael Chatagno – Sherco having already transferred to the FIM Trial World Cup at the end of last season along with the other previous main protagonists. In Motegi this weekend Maxime Varin – Scorpa from France and Italy’s Marco Fioletti – Beta will head the European assault against the home contenders who dominate this class. A total of fifty-two riders across all classes will contest the opening round of the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship in Japan.