Heavy overnight rain that continued into Q1 called for the section – that twisted up, down and around a steep banking – to be eased before the action got under way but with mud being dragged onto the big granite boulders and huge logs it still provided a severe test for competitors with grip in short supply.
Everyone gets two attempts in Qualification with a variety of routes depending on class. The emphasis is on staying feet-up in the fastest possible time with a rider’s best run counting towards their all-important starting position for the main Trial with the highest finishers rewarded with a valuable place at the back of the field.
Raga started tentatively, feeling out the section on his opening run before taking his first-ever TrialGP pole with a clean ride in Q2 in a time of 0:31.85 that just edged out Britain’s James Dabill (Beta) whose feet-up Q1 time of 0:32.05 placed him a clear second.
“I’m very happy with my first Qualification win,” said Raga. “It will give me the advantage tomorrow because I will be able to see all my rivals in the sections.”
Dabill actually posted the quickest time of the day in his Q2 run that was over a second faster than Raga but two marks lost on observation cancelled out any advantage he gained.
Defending champion Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) ended the session in third by virtue of his clean ride in Q1 in 0:35.50 after he scored a maximum second time out when he failed to get up an imposing rock step. He’ll start behind France’s Benoit Bincaz (Beta) and Spain’s Jorge Casales (Vertigo) who were fourth and fifth with British riders Jack Price (Gas Gas) and Dan Peace (Sherco) leading the field away after both failed at their two attempts.
Reigning TrialGP Women champion Emma Bristow (Sherco) will start tomorrow just ahead of Norwegian Ingveig Hakonsen (TRRS) who put in a time of 0:27.04 on her first run to beat the British rider into second by 0.36 with Spain’s Sandra Gomez (TRRS) slotting into third just 0.15 further back. Riding an eased section compared to the TrialGP class, all the female competitors were forced to rely on their Q1 performances after no-one managed a clean ride in Q2.
Italy’s defending Trial2 champion Matteo Grattarola (Honda) parted with a single mark on his first run before racing to the top in Q2 with his clean ride in 0:25.62 edging out Sondre Haga (TRRS) from Norway who led after Q1 with a time of 0:25.87. Spanish rider Aniol Gelabert (Scorpa) was third with a time of 0:25.91 following his opening attempt.
Grattarola’s title rival Toby Martyn (Beta) was fifth but Jack Peace (Sherco), who was second at the opening round in Italy two weeks ago, could only manage 22nd and will be the 10th rider away tomorrow after failing to record a clean run.
Carrying his form from TrialGP Italy into Japan, French teenager Kieran Touly (Scorpa) topped Trial125 thanks to two clean rides with his Q2 time of 0:21.31 over a second ahead of Spain’s Alex Canales (Gas Gas). Pau Martinez (Vertigo) secured third in his second run.
The action will resume tomorrow morning for the first of two points-paying days.