The action in the FIM Trial World Championship crosses the Atlantic Ocean this coming weekend for the first time in two years when TrialGP USA, round six of the 2017 series, is staged at Kingman in Arizona.
With much of the Trial taking place over two thousand metres above sea level this is the highest event on this year’s calendar – eclipsing even TrialGP Andorra – which poses a fresh set of challenges for the best riders on the planet.
Competing for the famous Wagner Cup, leading the way is the sublimely-talented Toni Bou – Repsol Honda who is bidding for an unprecedented eleventh consecutive FIM Trial World Championship.
Apart from one blip at TrialGP Andorra where he slipped to third the thirty-year-old silky-smooth Spaniard has appeared virtually unbeatable this year and is already eighteen points clear of his compatriot Adam Raga – TRRS who is the only rider other than Bou to have savoured the sweet taste of victory this year.
“We have been training a lot at altitude in preparation for this next round,” says Bou. “It will be an important weekend as we will be able to say that a large part of winning the championship is going to be played out here. We want to face the two final rounds with as much peace of mind as possible. As always, concentration will be essential to achieve a good result.”
Veteran Japanese fan favourite Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda currently holds third a further nineteen points adrift. The 2004 FIM Trial World Champion, Fujigas has won in America on five previous occasions and if his sensational second lap at TrialGP Great Britain earlier this month when he dropped just six marks is an accurate form guide he could add to this total.
Spaniards Jaime Busto – Repsol Honda and Jeroni Fajardo – Vertigo are tied on seventy-one points apiece, but the break down of their scores tells two different stories. Nineteen-year-old Busto has struggled with consistency and has been disappointing one weekend and then brilliant the next while the much more experienced Fajardo has remained consistent throughout.
Fajardo has only one career-victory to his name which came eight years ago so if you had to pick a potential winner from this pairing then Busto, who has claimed his first-ever podium finishes this season including a Bou-beating second in Andorra, is the more likely of the two.
Perhaps the most disappointing form this season so far has been displayed by Albert Cabestany – Sherco. The Spaniard has not finished outside the World top five since 2003, but he is currently languishing in sixth in the points table after slipping to eighth at TrialGP Great Britain.
While Cabestany has certainly struggled with the new qualification process to determine starting position, one man who has clearly relishing the fresh format is Britain’s James Dabill – Gas Gas.
The thirty-one-year-old had a career-best equalling second on day one in Japan after qualifying first and was in contention for another podium finish at his home GP where he qualified third until the closing stages of lap two.
In the super-competitive Trial2 class we have seen seven separate podium finishers and four different winners.
While he has only won once this season it is Britain’s Iwan Roberts – Gas Gas who has a healthy seventeen-point lead ahead of Spain’s Gabriel Marcelli – Honda thanks to a run of consistent performances that have seen him only drop out of the top-three on one occasion.
Spain’s Francesc Moret – Honda currently sits in third, but with just four points separating second to fifth this class is too close to call.
The TrialGP Women and Trial2 Women competitions also get under way at TrialGP USA where the action will be spread over three days with Friday afternoon’s qualification followed by separate points-scoring events on Saturday and Sunday.
For live scoring over all three days of competition download the free TrialGP LIVE app