Britain’s James Dabill – Gas Gas will start this weekend’s second round of the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship in Japan at the back of the twenty-one-rider TrialGP field after recording the only clean score in today’s qualification.
Heavy rain in the run-up to qualification for TrialGP Japan, held at Twin Ring Motegi made the section on a steep, rock-strewn hillside extremely difficult with mud ensuring that grip was hard to find. It was eased after qualification practice, but still claimed threes and fives from all but three of the entry.
The opening slippery climb over boulders was the main mark-taker with most riders parting with three marks simply to get to the top.
Spain’s Jeroni Fajardo – Vertigo pioneered a new line that, while considerably slower, broke the climb into two parts and he was rewarded with just a single penalty.
Defending World Champion Toni Bou – Repsol Honda opted for the same approach, but while his time was over a second faster than his compatriot he dropped two marks conquering the climb.
Home hero Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda also chose the slower, safer route but dropped three marks while Spain’s Adam Raga – TRS had a disaster, missing the opening gate within a few metres of the start cards and incurring a maximum that will see him fifth man away tomorrow.
After a favourable draw in the qualification ballot, Dabill made full use of his second-to-last starting position to closely observe his rivals before taking the direct route. Revelling in the British-style conditions, he utilised every available bit of grip to sail through clean.
“I was watching the riders closely and there were a lot of mistakes made,” says James, “but when Jeroni had a one I knew it was possible to go clean and once I was through the hardest part I just took it steady.”
“I’m pretty happy with that but, obviously, there’s still tomorrow and Sunday to come and we know after Spain when Busto qualified first and then didn’t have the best result that we still have it all to do.”
Riding an eased route that produced fifteen cleans, Spain’s Francesc Moret – Honda topped Trial2, ending the section with a do-or-die descent over boulders that gave him a winning margin of almost two seconds ahead of Britain’s Iwan Roberts – Beta.
Britain’s Billy Green – Beta was victorious in Trial125 by over half-a-second from French rider Kieran Touly – Sherco.
With more rain predicted overnight, tomorrow’s opening day proper, at the famous Twin Ring Motegi circuit promises to be a very sticky affair.
For full qualification results click here.
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