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WCTPortugalApril 18, 2004
World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 2 Gouveia, Portugal
Lampkin loses the championship lead

Repsol - Montesa HRC rider Dougie Lampkin scored a 3 3 result at the Grand Prix of Portugal, but this was not enough to prevent Adam Raga Gas Gas taking the lead in the overall standings thanks to a double victory over the two days of competition. It was a mixed weekend for the other members of the Repsol Montesa HRC squad, with Takahisa Fujinami recording a second place on Sunday after having finished a disastrous fifth place on the opening day. In contrast Marc Freixa earned his runners up spot on Saturday, before dropping off the pace to finish fifth, just twenty four hours later.

After an absence of two years World trials returned to Portugal and to a new venue situated approximately one hundred and fifty kilometres south east of the city of Porto. The small village of Gouveia sits just five hundred and ninety metres above sea level making it one of the lowest courses in this year’s series. With paddock sat amongst the small local houses the majority of the sections could be found in two main groups on the hills that surround the small quiet dwelling.

The opening two hazards proved of little consequence with the real action beginning at section three, the first of four sections hanging on the steep hillside beneath the small castle tower that define the summit. Leaving section six, the final hazard in this group, the riders then descended back towards the village to find hazards seven through to fourteen, two of these featuring water amongst what otherwise was a dry course. The final test was the arena type section back in the paddock area that featured both imported rocks and flowing water.

With all eyes fixed on the battle between Lampkin, Fujinami and Raga, it may have gone unnoticed that is was in fact Cabestany and Freixa who were the early leaders, although with some solid rides Raga did soon join the leading duo. In a day that Fujinami will want to forget quickly, already the disaster had begun with failures both at sections four and six, however he was not alone as Lampkin also fell foul at the same point in the later of these hazards. In contrast Cabestany and Raga adopted a new line and both managed to escape the steep rock face having only each only dropped a single mark, Freixa was not too disappointed as he had also completed section six for the loss of two marks to keep himself in contention.

For the majority of the second and final lap it was Lampkin and Raga who set the new and increased pace, the pair parting with very few marks as they revisited the steep, dry and testing zones. By section twelve these two riders had lost a mere four marks each, in comparison for the same period Freixa had a score of eight, Cabestany ten and Fujinami nine. However Lampkin was about to blot his performance with a bad five in section thirteen, as the reigning champion failed to crest the final step, this obviously knocked his confidence as he parted with another two marks in the final two hazards to seal his fate and a disappointing third place.

Raga held his nerve beautifully and rounded out what was a near perfect lap to take a well deserved victory, and thus allowing Freixa to record his best result of the series to date by taking the runners up spot. With Cabestany managing to secure fourth place, Fujinami in contrast scored his worse result of his current campaign by dropping to fifth place come the close of play.

Raga was obviously delight at taking his first victory of the season. “After a poor showing in Ireland I knew I had to come here and gain good results if I am to seriously challenge for the title. The conditions here in Portugal were more to my liking and certainly during the second lap I have been riding somewhere near my best so the victory is a great reward for both me and the team. My wish now is to continue the same form tomorrow, so hopefully I can make it a double victory.”

Freixa confirmed just what this result meant to him.” I rode well today, thankfully I made no major mistakes and maintained my concentration well. This result once again shows what I am capable of when I ride to level I know I can, when I ride with this ability it is clear that I can be amongst the leading riders. After my results at the last round it was important for me to move on and today I am pleased to say that I have managed that well.”

Despite not winning, Lampkin tried to find some positives from his day. “Again I am slightly frustrated because even after the problems on the first lap I rode myself back into contention and had a real opportunity to win the trial, so to finish third is disappointing. On the other hand with the scores being so close my result could have been a lot worse, so at least I can be thankfully for that. The added bonus given the situation is that I have managed to maintain my lead in the championship, as Fujinami has had a worse day than me. Like last year it is important for me to be on the rostrum every time, but hopefully tomorrow I will be standing on the top step.”

Looking dejected Fujinami blamed no one but himself. “ I never felt at ease or very confident during the opening lap today, I do not understand exactly why, but there was never a good feeling with me and the bike, although there were no problems with the bike, but just with me. The steepness of the terrain was perhaps more than I expected, so maybe I could have accounted better for this in my final preparations. During the second lap I rode a lot better, that was until section ten when the failure here again broke my momentum.”

Heavy rain played havoc with the organisers plans on Sunday morning as they had to hastily reverse their overnight modifications to four hazards, as the rain itself had now added the extra severity they were looking for. After much work and with the rain still falling and dense mist covering the highest hazards on the course, sections four and seven were eased to allow for the difficult conditions.

Lampkin made the most of the English like weather and earned himself an early lead by recording just a dab in section three, a feat only matched by Fujinami, and then by being the only rider to escape section four for less than a five. However as the first lap developed it was Raga who was emerging as the rider who was becoming stronger section by section, his improving form helping to first catch then over take Lampkin who committed a series of minor mistakes during the later part of the lap. The scores after the first fifteen sections read, Raga on twelve, Lampkin and surprisingly Jeroni Fajardo Gas Gas on fifteen, thus confirming the changing form out on the course. Freixa could not repeat his previous day’s performance, leaving him in fifth place behind Cabestany at this point.

With the rain now having halted, and a strong wind blowing across the hills, the sections were fast drying as the riders arrived for their final visit of the weekend. The better conditions promised to create lower scores and the leading riders closing performances proved this to be correct. Lampkin started the lap well once again, but for the second day running he sealed his own fate by taking five marks at section six, which was now his least favourite hazard on the course.

Thankfully for Raga, when he made his mistake in section ten, which ended in the same maximum penalty, he had already created a large enough advantage that this error would not prevent him from winning for the second time in two days. Fujinami posted the best lap of the day, and although it was not low enough to depose Raga, it was low enough to push Lampkin into third place again. Although Freixa did recover to produce a good second lap score, it was a case of too little to late as Cabestany remained ahead of him to take fourth place, leaving Marc back in fifth.

Holding the winners champagne, Raga confirmed his happiness at his weekend’s work. “I came here to get two good results and to close the gap on the other leading riders, but to win both days and with it take the lead in the championship is more than I could have ever hoped for. The sections suited my style and I have taken full advantage of this and have immediately cancelled out the bad results from the last round. This now puts me in a great position to challenge for the title.”

Fujinami was pleased to have made amends for yesterday’s poor result. “Although the result yesterday was not good, at least I closed with a good second lap ready for today. That said I rode quite nervously again this morning, and made a few small mistakes however I was still close to the lead. During the second lap I was very strong, and when Raga made five in section ten I thought perhaps I could win. Anyway second position is still good, and much better than fifth place yesterday.”

Showing frustrated Lampkin spoke about his day. “It’s been a disappointing day all round, as not only has two marks been the difference between winning and finishing third today, but also I have lost my lead in the championship in the process. Like yesterday I have made too many mistakes, mostly only small errors, but the five in section six on the second lap has eventually made the difference between me beating Raga and Fujinami and actually ending up on the wrong side of them. Raga has done a good job of catching up in the championship after his results in Ireland, he only has a one point lead, so I will be looking to regain the advantage when we go to Japan in a few weeks time.”

Freixa had no answer for his bad ride. “ After yesterday I thought I had cured the problems I had experienced in Ireland, but again today on the first lap my level was poor. Waiting until the second lap to produce your best riding is not enough if you want to arrive on the podium. It has not been a good day, and I can not explain why.”

World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 2 Gouveia, Portugal

Day 1

1 Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas)
2 Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)
3 Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
4 Albert Cabestany (E-Beta)
5 Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
6 Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta)
7 Jeroni Fajardo (E-Gas Gas)
8 Antonio Bou (E-Beta)
9 Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas)
10 Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco)
11 Josep Manzano (E-Beta)
12 Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas)
13 Shaun Morris (GB-Gas Gas)
14 Jerome Betune (FRA-Gas Gas)
15 Sam Connor (GB-Sherco)
Day 2

1 Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas)
2 Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
3 Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
4 Albert Cabestany (E-Beta)
5 Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)
6 Jeroni Fajardo (E-Gas Gas)
7 Antonio Bou (E-Beta)
8 Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta)
9 Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco)
10 Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas)
11 Jerome Betune (FRA-Gas Gas)
12 Sam Connor (GB-Sherco)
13 Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas)
14 Josep Manzano (E-Beta)
15 Shaun Morris (GB-Gas Gas)

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