The 2023 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship comes to a dramatic climax this coming weekend (1-3 September) with the seventh and final round – the TrialGP of France – at Vertolaye.
- 2023 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship signs off with TrialGP of France
- Toni Bou on course to rewrite TrialGP record books
- Emma Bristow lines up her ninth TrialGP Women crown
Situated around one-hundred-and-forty kilometres to the west of Lyon and close to the centre of the country, the venue is new to the series calendar so represents a fresh challenge for the majority of a very healthy one-hundred-and-ten-strong entry spread across TrialGP, TrialGP Women, Trial2, Trial2 Women and Trial3 classes.
With sections featuring huge natural rocks studded into a steep, wooded hillside, Vertolaye will provide a fitting test for top-flight riders and with all five titles still to be decided it promises to be a thrilling finale to one of the most exciting seasons in Trial history.
Holding a twenty-nine-point lead at the top of the TrialGP standings, Spanish superstar Toni Bou (Montesa) surely starts as a firm favourite to claim an unparalleled seventeenth consecutive title in the sport’s elite class.
The thirty-six-year-old has been forced to fight hard all season, especially during the opening three rounds in Spain, Portugal and Japan where he was matched by his compatriot Jaime Busto (GASGAS) before eventually pulling clear with double wins in San Marino, Andorra and last time out in Italy in July.
Busto has enjoyed great success after returning to GASGAS at the start of the season and will be aiming to sign off on top by adding to his record of three victories this season, but while his second place in the series is secure the forty points up for grabs over two days of action still give him a mathematical chance of dethroning Bou.
Bou and Busto, however, are not the only riders capable of topping the TrialGP podium in France and Spain’s Gabriel Marcelli (Montesa) – who at twenty-three is two years younger than Busto – is still searching for his debut victory at this level after finishing in the top-three five times this season.
Matteo Grattarola (Beta) has not enjoyed the smoothest of seasons and switched marque at the start of June, but the Italian veteran has four podium finishes to his name this year, remains in striking distance of third in the championship and won a day at the final event of 2022 so remains a genuine contender.
After missing a round following knee surgery, Spain’s Adam Raga (TRRS) currently sits fifth which will match his lowest finish since 2001, although the seven-point gap to Grattarola could be clawed back by the incredibly experienced forty-one-year-old.
Britain’s Bristow (Sherco) holds a ten-point lead over Berta Abellan (Scorpa) in TrialGP Women as she bids to make it nine titles in ten years and after six straight victories the formbook is firmly in her favour.
Abellan is a fierce competitor and the twenty-three-year-old Spaniard defeated Bristow on the first two days of competition, but she faces an uphill battle if she is to pull off a huge shock and overtake the reigning champion.
If she is to win the title she will need other riders to get between herself and Bristow in the results with help most likely to come from Italy’s Andrea Sofia Rabino (Beta) who sits a safe third in the points and who beat Bristow on the opening day of competition this year in Spain.
France’s Naomi Monnier (GASGAS) and Alice Minta (Scorpa) from Britain have also taken podium finishes this year, but neither have ever beaten Bristow in TrialGP Women competition.
For much of the season Trial2 has been a two-man contest between Britain’s Billy Green (Scorpa) and Jack Peace (Sherco), but both riders have at times posted inconsistent results which means Spain’s Pablo Suarez (Montesa) – who has taken two day wins this year – is still in contention for the title.
Heading into the final round, Green leads Peace by six points and Suarez by sixteen so the twenty-one-year-old faces two nervous days of competition if he is to maintain his advantage.
With his hopes of retaining the championship realistically over, Sondre Haga (GASGAS) will be aiming to add to his season’s total of two wins and end a tough defence of his title on top.
Following rounds in Andorra and Italy, the Trial2 Women class is headed by French rider Alycia Soyer (TRRS) whose three wins and a second-placed finish give her an eight-point cushion over Alessia Bacchetta (GASGAS) before an eleven-point gap back to Laia Pi Ramirez (Beta) from Spain.
Soyer will be looking to take full advantage of passionate home support to claim the crown in just her second full season at this level and knows two runner-up finishes will be enough.
Trial3 has also been very close and highly competitive all season with George Hemingway (Beta) eventually emerging as the front-runner chased by Jone Sandvik (Sherco) from Norway and fellow British rider Jamie Galloway (TRRS).
Hemingway – whose older brother Harry won the Trial3 title in 2022 – has a twelve-point lead over Sandvik which, on paper at least, should be enough, but the rising Norwegian star has won three times this year and is well positioned to strike if his British rival suffers any misfortune in Vertolaye.
The action is scheduled to start at 09:00 CET on Saturday and will be streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO.TV.