Over a long and illustrious career his all-action, full-throttle style has earned him the nickname Fujigas along with a legion of fans and Trial legend Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) is still going strong heading into TrialGP Japan, round two of the 2019 FIM Trial World Championship.
The 39-year-old, champion in 2004, always rises to the occasion at his home GP and was on the podium last year with third on the opening day following a typically forceful display of controlled and aggressive riding.
We caught up with Fuji to find out more about what motivates him and discover how he keeps consistently delivering the goods after 24 years at the cutting edge of top-flight Trial.
“The motivation is still there, always, because you fight for a result and many times you get it,” he says. “Now that I am physically well there is a lot of motivation and technically I have improved. Despite my age and after 24 years in the World Championship there is always something to fight for.
“Also, in the Repsol Honda team there is always motivation. Seeing Toni with so much desire after so many titles makes me also have the same desire to beat him!”
Fuji went into 2018 carrying a shoulder injury that hindered him for most of the championship campaign but this time around he is fighting fit after an off-season that has included plenty of hard yards in the gym and on his cycle on the roads and trails around his adopted home in Spain.
Although it’s been 15 years since he finally dethroned the great Dougie Lampkin to claim his sole World Championship title, Fuji is still hungry for a second crown.
“I would like to be World Champion again but I think this will be very difficult because Toni is very strong. And not only Toni, also other rivals are very fit this year – Jeroni Fajardo, Adam Raga and Jaime Busto to name just three.
“In Italy I was fine and I think I was in podium positions during part of the Trial. I would like this to continue this way during the year and finish fighting for the podium of the championship in the last events.”
The 2019 FIM Trial World Championship will resume at TrialGP Japan on June 7-9 at the iconic Twin Ring Motegi circuit where the TrialGP Women class will join the action.