Toni Bou – Repsol Honda will start tomorrow’s TrialGP Czech Republic at Sokolov, round seven of the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship, at the back of the field after a commanding performance in today’s qualification.
The Spanish superstar – who could and should sew-up an incredible eleventh straight FIM Trial World Championship title this weekend – appeared to be at a disadvantage after starting qualification second, but watched by a large global online audience, his lightning-fast time of 0:25.32 set a benchmark that simply could not be beaten.
“I didn’t think starting second would be good,” says Bou, “but the rain gave me the advantage. I took some risks today and in the first corner I was very close to having a big crash. I’m happy, but now I must wait for tomorrow because it is a very important day for me when I will try to win the title.”
The man-made qualifying section comprising imposing rocks on a flat field with an exit over a pile of concrete slabs was the shortest we have seen this season. Rain midway through the session cancelled out any advantage the later riders would usually command as the damp dirt was dragged onto the boulders and a number of competitors were caught out by unexpected wheel spin.
Albert Cabestany – Sherco has struggled with this season’s all-new qualification system, but after starting tenth the veteran Spaniard raced through the section to post the second fastest time, albeit almost a second down on Bou.
Britain’s James Dabill – Gas Gas started sixth and managed to complete his run as the rain fell overhead with the qualification specialist looking a safe second until Cabestany took 0:00.43 off his time.
Jaime Busto – Repsol Honda is another rider who excels in qualification, but with conditions getting increasingly slippery the nineteen-year-old Spanish whizz-kid had to be content with fourth almost two seconds down on Bou after a super-aggressive ride.
Jeroni Fajardo – Vertigo from Spain ended the session in fifth, half-a-second ahead of compatriot Adam Raga – TRRS whose hopes of dethroning Bou are looking increasingly slim.
Riding an eased course, TrialGP Women series leader Emma Bristow – Sherco started first, but the British heroine, bidding for her fourth FIM Women’s Trial World Championship on the trot, was in no mood to hang around and brilliantly blended pace and precision to set a time of 0:24.71 that never looked threatened.
“Qualification went really well,” says Bristow. “The section was easy to lose marks on so I made sure I went clean, but also fast. I tried to push it, but not too much.
“I’m pleased to be at the back again. It’s good to see the different lines everyone’s taking rather than making the lines so hopefully I will have a good day tomorrow.”
Her closest title rival Theresa Bauml – Beta from Germany held an initial second, but was pushed backed to fourth first by Spain’s Sandra Gomez – Gas Gas who broke the timing beam just over a second behind Bristow and then by Italy’s Sara Trentini – Beta who was last away.
Toby Martyn – Vertigo was a man on a mission in Trial2. Riding a route tougher than the women’s but easier than TrialGP, the young British rider blitzed through the section in a time of 0:26.69 to finish over a second ahead of Norway’s Hakon Pedersen – Gas Gas.
Spaniard Gabriel Marcelli – Honda, who is just seven points away from the series lead, was third with championship pace-setter Iwan Roberts – Beta a disappointing eleventh.
In the Trial2 Women class Germany’s Jule Steinert – TRRS set pole with a time of 0:32.92, just over two seconds ahead of Britain’s Nikita Smith – Gas Gas. Series leader Neus Murcia – Beta from Spain was third just under a second further back.
Tomorrow will see the penultimate round contested over two laps of fifteen mainly natural sections in the hills on the outskirts of Sokolov.