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WCTJuly 13, 2003
World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 7
Sestriere, ITALY

Fujinami and Lampkin Continue Personal Battle

Montesa HRC riders Dougie Lampkin and Takahisa Fujinami have turned the fight for the 2003 World Outdoor Trials Championship into a personal battle, with only these two now having a realistic chance of lifting the title. The duo took a first and second place each over the two days of the Italian round to leave the overall standings with the same eight point gap, the British rider holding the slim advantage with just two rounds remaining. Marc Freixa contributed to the Montesa HRC celebrations by taking third place on Saturday to give the team a clean sweep, and then followed this up with a solid fourth position on Sunday. Albert Cabestany was the only non Montesa HRC rider to make it onto the rostrum in Sestiere, the Beta pilot claiming third place on the second day of the trial.

The famous ski resort of Sestriere marks the highest venue of the championship, the paddock being situated two thousand metres above sea level with the sections ranging a further several hundred metres higher. The town and the surrounding region will play host to the Winter Olympics in 2006, and offered the best trials terrain of the season to date with a great mix of wet and dry hazards. Snow capped mountains provided a fitting backdrop to the highly spectacular sections that kept the large crowds entertained over the two fantastic days of competition of this seventh round of the 2003 series.

Lampkin, who continues to fight to retain his title, had shone in the pre event training sessions immediately prior to the trial, with many observers remarking that he looked almost at his best again. Those people were not wrong as Dougie posted the most outstanding performance of the championship to date during Saturday's trial. Again it was the three Montesa HRC riders of Lampkin, Fujinmai and Freixa who set the early pace, with Raga, Cabestany and Kuroyama keeping them close company.

Sections one to five were on the same steep face of the mountain that will be home to the Grand Slalom when the Olympics arrive in three years time. There was little variation in this opening group of hazards, with all five containing a jumble of dry boulders with dusty soil in between. The leading riders parted with few marks amongst these sections, although Lampkin was to lose his first mark of the trial as he needed a steadying dab towards the end of the fourth along with both Cabestany and Raga. At this point Freixa and Kuroyama shared the lead having remained feet up through these initial tests.

The action then shifted to the opposite side of the valley for sections six to fourteen. The majority of these hazards had a watery theme being located in the steep sided river, which was flowing relatively slowly due to the time of year. The Montesa HRC trio maintained their charge through sections six, seven and eight, with Lampkin and Freixa only adding one more to their score whilst Fujinami kept his running total in the balance. It was a similar story for Cabestany, Raga and Kuroyama who also kept their losses to an absolute minimum to continue their own charge for the lead.

The next two sections proved the most difficult of the trial, the dry and incredibly steep hazards offering the perfect opportunity for Lampkin to stamp his authority on the event. Freixa cleaned section nine with ease, but fell foul of the massive undercut step in the next hazard, the resulting five greatly increasing his score. Fujinami quickly added seven to his tally with a two and a five, failing at exactly the same point as Freixa in the second of these demanding zones. Lampkin played it safe with a calculated two dab ride in the ninth before producing an absolutely stunning clean ride in section ten. This was to prove a defining and turning point in the trial for Dougie, as the British rider sensed that victory was his for the taking.

On initial inspection, sections twelve and thirteen, higher up the river, plus the six-metre high slab in section fourteen looked nearly impossible, but as is often the case these seemingly dangerous tests caused the top pilots very few problems. With only minutes of their intermediate time allowance remaining, the leading pack chased back to the final artificial section housed in the local sports hall. Whilst the large logs had taken a series of fives off the earlier runners, the top few riders really showed their supremacy as they cruised through this spectator friendly zone.

Lampkin held a slim lead at the halfway stage, his score of six being three less than that of Freixa, who in turn was holding off Fujinami by a single mark. These three riders confirmed why they sit at the head of the championship, as the chasing pack failed to match them during the closing part of the first lap. Antoni Bou held a distant fourth place at this point with a tally double that of any of the Montesa HRC riders.

Highly passionate about their motor sport, the large Italian audience was about to witness something very special, and responded with typically fuelled applause as the dramatic performance unfolded. Conditions out on the course had worsened considerably, with water dragging onto many of the boulders, and this was reflected as the majority of riders posted higher second lap scores, including both Fujinami and Freixa who would eventually finish second and third respectively. In contrast Lampkin had ignored this fact and was on a mission of excellence. Followed by the crowd, Dougie cleaned section after section.

Arriving at the final hazard of the day, Lampkin's second card was still fault free, and though it was obvious that the win was already his, he signed off in true world champion fashion with another feet up ride. Lampkin's total of six for two laps seemed impossible, but it was true and gave a clear sign that the reigning champion is in no mood to surrender his title just yet. With his teammates occupying the other podium positions, Lampkin headed yet another Montesa HRC 1-2-3.

World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 7
Sestriere, ITALY

Day 1

1 Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
2 Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
3 Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)
4 Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas)
5 Albert Cabestany (E-Beta)
6 Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta)
Day 2

1 Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
2 Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
3 Albert Cabestany (E-Beta)
4 Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)
5 Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta)
6 Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco)

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