Now at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda is preparing to start his twenty-second season competing at the very highest level when the 2017 TrialGP championship gets under way on 13/14 May at Camprodon in Spain.
The elder statesman of TrialGP, perennial Japanese fan favourite Fujigas – as he is widely known because of his explosive, all-action style – has been a fixture on the World Championship scene since 1996 when he made his series debut aged just sweet sixteen.
What makes Fujigas’ glittering career all the more remarkable is that ever since his debut back in the mid-nineties when he finished seventh he has never dropped lower than fifth in the final championship standings, accumulating thirty-three victories and one hundred and fifty-eight podium finishes across three hundred and eleven events.
FIM Trial World Champion in 2004 when he halted Dougie Lampkin’s bid for eight consecutive titles, Fujigas was runner-up five times to the legendary British rider before finally achieving his ultimate ambition.
Even after losing his title to Adam Raga he never gave up and was runner-up on a further two occasions in 2005 and 2006 before finishing third behind team-mate Toni Bou and Raga for five consecutive seasons.
From 2012 to 2015 he slipped to fifth in the World and then, when most riders would be contemplating a well-earned retirement, he bounced back last season to win yet another FIM bronze Medal.
So what is his secret for such amazing longevity? Quite simply it is a combination of an unparalleled passion for the sport, his never-say-die attitude, an unshakable belief in his abilities and the deep-seated desire to further hone his already sensational skills.
“After finishing in third place last year you always think that you can improve,” Fujinami says. “For me the aim is just that – to improve. I want to feel good in the sections and on the bike and fight like I have always fought.”
“I think that I’m on form at the moment. I’ve trained hard and I will arrive at the first TrialGP very motivated. Yes, I’m the most veteran rider in the paddock but, for the same reason, I’m the one with the most experience and that’s always a good thing. I will fight like I did last season to win and I will try and be on the podium as many times as possible.”
A long-time resident of Spain who will forever be associated with the Honda / Montesa marque, Takahisa Fujinami has an almost supernatural ability to defy the passage of time. Whether he can continue to turn back the clock remains to be seen but we saw last year when he took victory on day two in France that he still has what it takes to stand on top of the podium.
To follow Fujigas’ progress and stay up-to-date with the full championship visit www.trialgp.com.