The 2018 FIM Trial World Championship pitches camp at Comblain au Pont this coming weekend for TrialGP Belgium, round six of the series. Regarded as the ‘Monaco’ of Trial, the paddock is squeezed into the narrow main street and the nearby bustling bars, restaurants and cafes all combine to give the event a very special buzz.
The town, located less than twenty miles south of the medieval city of Liege and not far from the German border, has hosted a World event on two previous occasions in 2014 and 2016 and both times it has been Toni Bou – Repsol Honda who has run out the winner.
The eleven-time TrialGP World Champion’s first visit was a close-fought affair with heavy rain in the run-up to the event making the slippery rocks and steep muddy banks in woodland close to the town extremely treacherous. His long-term rival Adam Raga – who at the time was riding for Gas Gas – was leading after the opening lap before the heavens opened and made grip, that was already in short supply, almost impossible to find.
However, as we have seen so many times before, when Bou’s back is against the wall he has the ability to dig deeply into his bag of Trial tricks. At the time TrialGP followed a different format to now with three laps of twelve sections and the Spaniard was able to turn this early deficit around and record a narrow six-mark win as Raga was forced to resist late pressure from the then Sherco-mounted Albert Cabestany who ended the Trial one mark further adrift.
Bou’s Japanese team-mate Takahisa Fujinami fought back from a poor opening lap for fourth ahead of Jeroni Fajardo who was riding a Beta.
Fast-forward two years and the conditions could not have been any more different with fierce sunshine presenting its own set of problems for the best Trial riders on the planet.
Again finding himself on the back foot following the opening lap as Cabestany set the early pace, Bou – who was carrying an arm injury sustained in a big training crash – held an initial fourth. He then moved into the lead on the second of three laps before extending his advantage over Raga – by now riding a TRRS – to ten marks at the finish with Cabestany repeating his third-placed finish of two years earlier. Fajardo and Fujinami rounded out the top five.
The victory was Bou’s eighth of the season which saw him extend his championship lead to twenty-three points as he headed towards his tenth World Championship crown back in 2016. Will Bou be able to take his third win at this unique Belgium venue when the TrialGP series returns this weekend?
Follow all the action from TrialGP Belgium as it unfolds over the weekend, with full coverage across all the official TrialGP social media channels, via the free TrialGP LIVE app, on TrialGP.com plus live qualification on the TrialGP Facebook page.