Following a six-week break in the schedule, the best riders on the planet fire back into action this coming weekend at the TrialGP of Belgium, round four of the 2022 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship.
Staged at the picturesque Comblain au Pont in the east of the country, just a 30-minute drive south of the historic city of Liege, competitors can expect super-steep loose climbs, nerve-jangling descents and plenty of imposing rock steps with sections based around a quarry and wooded hillside overlooking the town.
Pre-pandemic the venue had established itself as a firm favourite on the TrialGP calendar with four events in the space of six seasons and it’s great to have it back on the schedule after an absence of two years.
Three classes – the premier TrialGP division along with Trial2 and Trial3 – will compete and for the first time this season there will be only one points-paying day.
With the series moving into the second half of the championship schedule, Spanish superstar Toni Bou (Montesa) is in pole position to claim an unprecedented 16th consecutive crown.
With four wins and two runner-up finishes to his name so far this season, the 35-year-old Catalan has already opened up a 23-point lead at the top of the table and if that wasn’t bad enough news for his rivals, Bou has never been beaten at Comblain au Pont.
Best of the rest so far this season has been Jaime Busto (Vertigo). The talented 24-year-old from the Basque region of Spain won the opening day of competition and was on the podium on both days at round three in Germany, finishes that have given him an 18-point advantage over third-placed Adam Raga (TRRS).
The two-time champion – and 15-time vice-champ – is renowned for his fighting spirit and is the only other rider to have scored a win this season so Busto will have to keep looking over his shoulder while all the time remaining focussed on Bou.
The remaining podium finishes this season have been claimed by the Spanish pairing of Jeroni Fajardo (Sherco) and Miquel Gelabert (GASGAS) along with Italy’s Matteo Grattarola (Beta) who complete the top six with Grattarola certainly a rider to watch following his pair of podiums in Germany.
In the Trial2 category it’s all square at the top with Pablo Suarez (Montesa) from Spain and Norway’s Sondre Haga (Beta) locked together on 98 points each.
Suarez has won three of the six point-paying days this season but finished off the podium on the second day in both Andorra and Germany which has allowed the super-consistent Haga – who is still to record a victory – to draw level.
Leading the chasing pack, Britain’s Billy Green (Scorpa) has one victory under his belt and trails by 16 points with Arnau Farre (Sherco) from Spain and Italy’s Lorenzo Gandola (Beta) holding fourth and fifth with both boasting a win apiece.
There’s a British 1-2 in the Trial3 division where Harry Hemingway (Beta) is holding an 11-point lead over his compatriot Jamie Galloway (TRRS) following rounds in Spain and Andorra.
Hemingway, a member of the trial-riding dynasty that also numbers the legendary Dougie Lampkin among its fold, has won twice this year – victories he’s backed up with a pair of second-placed finishes – and Galloway has also recorded a day win.
Just two points adrift of second, rising Czech star David Fabian (Beta) has also savoured the sweet taste of victory this season but he lost ground when he finished off the podium on both days in Andorra.
With only two scoring days left for Trial3 competitors this season, Hemingway is sitting pretty but with such talented rivals he can’t afford to lose focus for one moment if he’s going to end the championship on top.
The action at Comblain au Pont kicks off at 11.15am on Saturday with official practice before the serious business of scoring points gets under way at 9am on Sunday.
For more information on the Hertz FIM Trial World Championship go to www.trialgp.com