Sensational, scintillating, sublime – there are quite simply not enough superlatives in the dictionary to do justice to the amazing Toni Bou – Repsol Honda who at today’s TrialGP Portugal, round four of the 2018 FIM Trial World Championship, notched up a record-breaking hundredth TrialGP victory from his two hundred GP starts.
After suffering a double defeat at TrialGP Japan at the start of the month and then almost losing last weekend at TrialGP Andorra, it looked as though chinks were starting to show in Bou’s normally impregnable armour. However, with temperatures soaring to a scorching thirty-sevendegrees the eleven-time FIM Trial World Champion – who is bidding for an incredible twelfth consecutive title this year – turned up the heat on his rivals with an imperious performance.
“It’s very important because the championship is really close,” says Bou. “After my injury my condition is not perfect, but every day I’m getting better. I’m very happy to take this victory. I’ve always looked at the ninety-nine wins for Dougie and thought it would be impossible to beat, but finally I have. It’s very special.”
Huge, imposing granite boulders comprised the majority of the sections laid out over a compact course near the small town of Gouveia in the North of the country.
In his two-hundredth TrialGP start the Spanish superstar outclassed the opposition, kicking off with a first-lap total of just one that gave him an eight-mark lead over compatriot Jeroni Fajardo – Gas Gas at the halfway stage with Jaime Busto – Gas Gas from Spain, who was third after the opening lap, a massive seventeen in arrears.
Even a maximum on the penultimate section of the Trial could not prevent him from taking a clear win and in doing so finally surpass the great Dougie Lampkin’s record with a landmark hundredth TrialGP victory.
Fajardo’s decision to move to Gas Gas at the end of 2017 continues to pay dividends and his lap-two total of twelve saw him end the day as a comfortable runner-up, ten marks clear of his third-placed team-mate Busto.
Veteran Albert Cabestany – Beta also looks refreshed following a change of teams for 2018 and his total of thirty-nine was easily good enough for fourth, twenty-three marks clear of fellow Spaniard Adam Raga – TRRS. The two-time World Champion, who has been runner-up behind Bou every year since 2007, continues to struggle to find his form and after the opening lap was a distant eighth before pulling back vital positions on lap two.
Britain’s James Dabill – Beta was sixth on sixty-five, two ahead of Spain’s Oriol Noguera – Jotagas, with Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda a long way off the pace in eighth. The Spanish pairing of Jorge Casales – Vertigo and Miquel Gelabert – Sherco rounded out the top ten.
At the halfway point of the championship Bou now has a ten-point lead over Fajardo with Busto a further four behind in third.
Britain’s Dan Peace – Gas Gas claimed a narrow three-mark win in Trial2 from Spain’s Aniol Gelabert – Scorpa and his compatriot Gabriel Marcelli – Montesa who ended the Trial one mark further back after a costly late maximum on the second lap.
Following a tense opening lap it was Gelabert who led on five, one ahead of Peace and Italy’s Luca Petrella – TRRS with Jack Peace – Gas Gas next on ten and Marcelli, British rider Toby Martyn – Montesa and Italian Lorenzo Gandola – Scorpa locked together on eleven.
Single marks in the opening two sections of the second lap followed by a maximum on section four looked to have dropped the older of the Peace Brothers out of contention, but from there he remained clean to take his first victory of the season. Martyn’s second-lap score of eight was good enough for fourth from Gandola, last year’s Trial125 champion.
The big shock was the form of runaway series leader Matteo Grattarola – Honda. The veteran Italian, who has won three times this year, slumped to a lowly tenth and his lead over Martyn has been slashed from eighteen points to eleven with Marcelli just one more point behind in third.
Trial125 series leader Billy Green – Beta extended his advantage at the top of the standings to eighteen points. The sixteen-year-old British rider staged a dramatic come-from-behind win after looking out of contention following an expensive opening lap that left him joint fifth on a total of thirteen.
Spain’s Eric Miquel – TRRS, who topped yesterday’s qualification, had led on a score of six after lap one, two marks ahead of diminutive French rider Hugo Dufrese – Gas Gas and five in front of Spain’s Martin Riobo – Gas Gas.
On lap two Miquel’s challenge melted in the heat and he added a further fifteen marks to his score as Green produced a stunning second-half performance to part with just one additional mark.
Pablo Suarez – Gas Gas, who was also on thirteen at the halfway mark, completed his second lap for a total of four to move into second from Riobo who added an extra nine marks. Miquel ended the day fourth with Dufrese finishing fifth on a total of twenty-seven after a high-scoring second lap.
Having reached the mid-point in the 2018 series, the TrialGP tour that seen four events completed in just over a month, will now pause briefly before resuming action at TrialGP France come mid-July.