Spanish superstar Toni Bou (Montesa) rewrote the Trial record books yet again with victory on the opening day of the TrialGP of France – the seventh and final round of the 2023 Hertz FIM Trial World Championship – rewarding him with his seventeenth consecutive crown.
- Toni Bou makes it seventeen straight TrialGP titles
- Emma Bristow moves closer to her ninth TrialGP Women crown
- Pablo Suarez win sets up dramatic decider in Trial2
In TrialGP Women defending champion Emma Bristow (Sherco) eased closer to her ninth title in ten years with a hard-fought seventh straight win of the season while victory in Trial2 went to Pablo Suarez (Montesa), Alycia Soyer (TRRS) topped Trial2 Women and George Hemingway (Beta) took control of Trial3.
New to the TrialGP calendar, the venue at Vertolaye provided a stiff test for the best riders on the planet with a succession of steep climbs and huge rocks in a heavily wooded hillside – bookended by man-made obstacles to start and end the lap – resulting in some sizeable scores. Time was also a factor with most of the field collecting penalties on their opening laps.
For Bou, however, it was simply business as usual as he powered his way to his one-hundred-and-forty-second TrialGP career victory – his tenth of the season – and a sensational seventeenth straight crown.
“It is an incredible moment to continue with this amazing dream after seventeen seasons,” said Bou. “Thank you to all the team for making this possible. I am super-happy.”
Parting with fifteen marks on his opening lap after taking maximums on sections three, eight and twelve which proved to be impossible for everyone at the first attempt, the thirty-six-year-old still led title rival Jaime Busto (GASGAS) by six at the halfway mark.
With the hot conditions resulting in dust that was dragged onto the imposing rocks making grip hard to find, Bou then dropped his score to ten on lap two to pull away from Busto who added twenty-one marks on his second circuit as he fought off a strong late challenge from fellow Spaniard Gabriel Marcelli (Montesa).
Winner of the opening day of the 2022 finale, Italian veteran Matteo Grattarola (Beta) matched Marcelli on twenty-seven on observation on lap one, but an additional twenty-three marks on lap two dropped him out of podium contention.
The top-five was completed by forty-one-year-old Adam Raga (TRRS) whose six time penalties – compared to the three picked up by Grattarola and five incurred by Bou, Busto and Marcelli – cost him a fourth-placed finish.
With a ten-point lead heading into Vertolaye, British lioness Bristow started the day in a strong position and a good opening lap of nine on observation and two on time strengthened her advantage as title rival Berta Abellan (Scorpa) had four time penalties to add to her total of twelve.
A surprise five by Bristow on section seven on lap two saw the Spaniard close dramatically, but Abellan then collected a maximum of her own after a big crash on section ten which put the result beyond doubt as Bristow opened up a thirteen-point advantage at the top of the championship table.
“It has been a stressful day because the time has been tight,” said Bristow. “The sections have been very good, I just made one bad mistake on the last lap which made it tighter than I would have liked, but I finished well and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
France’s Naomi Monnier (GASGAS) completed the podium in a distant third ahead of Andrea Sofia Rabino (Beta), who now looks assured of third in the championship, with Czech rider Denisa Pechackova (GASGAS) – last year’s Trial2 Women champion – claiming fifth.
Trial2 championship leader following the opening round in April, Suarez has been forced to take a back seat ever since as British riders Jack Peace (Sherco) and Billy Green (Scorpa) took turns at the front, but the twenty-two-year-old Basque rider’s third day victory of the year has thrown the series wide open.
With Green – who led heading into France – finishing out of the points after a disastrous day and Peace only managing sixth it is all change at the top with Suarez tying Peace for the championship lead and Green slipping four points behind.
“It has been hard today because of the terrain,” said Suarez. “I shall be fighting again tomorrow and I hope to take the title.”
Britain’s Harry Hemingway (Beta) held a one-mark lead from Suarez at the halfway mark despite incurring five on time compared to the Spaniard’s three time penalties, but on lap two Suarez kept his cool to pull clear.
After adding eight more marks to his total, last year’s championship runner-up emerged a comfortable winner with Italy’s Carloalberto Rabino (Beta) producing by far his best form of the season to push Hemingway back into third ahead of Alex Canales (Sherco) from Spain and French rider Hugo Dufrese (GASGAS).
Competing on home soil, Soyer stamped her authority on the Trial2 Women class and with her fourth win of the year now leads the championship chase by eleven points from Italy’s Alessia Bacchetta (Beta).
Soyer did the damage on the first lap with her total of five putting her two clear of Seline Meling (Beta) from Norway, but more importantly Bacchetta was back in joint fourth on a total of thirteen marks including a time penalty.
Another lap of five by Soyer put the result beyond doubt, but Bacchetta kept her slim title hopes alive after fighting up to second position with a second-lap total of six moving her ahead of Meling who ended the day in third on a total of twenty-one.
“I am very happy with the result,” said Soyer. “It has been a good day. I did not make too many mistakes so it has been good for the championship and tomorrow I will try to do the same.”
Hemingway moved to within touching distance of the Trial3 title with a commanding seventeen-mark victory ahead of his compatriot Jamie Galloway (TRRS) as Jone Sandvik (Sherco) from Norway – the only rider who still has a mathematical chance of overtaking the British teenager – finished third.
Hemingway, whose older brother Harry won the title last year, took control on the opening lap with his score of five giving him a three-mark advantage over Galloway while Sandvik lay all the way back in eleventh on a total of twenty-six.
A lap-two score of six saw Hemingway cruise to his sixth win from eleven starts and a seventeen-point championship lead as Galloway held onto second, four clear of Sandvik who staged a courageous comeback and added just six more marks to his total to climb to third on the day.
“It’s been a good day for me today,” said Hemingway. “I started off really well with a lap of five so I knew I was riding at a good level. Then I had a lap of six which I’m really pleased with – hopefully I can finish the job tomorrow.”
The action – streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO-TV – resumes tomorrow at 09:00 CET for the fourteenth and final day of competition when four more coveted FIM World Championship titles will be decided.
The cost is for €7.99 for full weekend coverage or €24.99 for a mid-season pass, including the FIM Trial des Nations.