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WCTSpainJuly 25, 2004
World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 8 Pajares, Spain
Fujinami looks certain to be champion

Today's Spanish Grand Prix saw Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Montesa HRC) take another important step toward securing the 2004 World outdoor trials championship, when he recorded his eighth victory of the season.

Fujinami's latest win puts him even further ahead in the overall standings with just one round remaining. Even a confident Adam Raga (Gas Gas) could not stop the Japanese rider, at his home round, and was forced to take the runners up trophy away with him. Dougie Lampkin (Repsol Montesa HRC) completed the rostrum, but the British rider was far from happy after having held a slice of the lead at the end of the first lap. Lampkin was not the only disappointed rider, as Marc Freixa could only manage sixth place at a trial where he had hoped to be on the podium.

Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)

Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)

After a two week break the 2004 FIM World Trial Championship resumed normal service at the Grand Prix of Spain, a country where the sport of trials is most famous and very popular. Traditionally the Spanish round is usually held in the region close to Barcelona, but this year the action was shifted to near the North West coast.

The very small village of Puerto Pajares can be found approximately seventy kilometres South of the city of Oviedo, high in the mountains. In the winter the hill top resort is busy with sports associated with snow, but this weekend it was the turn of the trial bikes to climb the great rock faces that reached 1600 metres at their highest point.

As with the round in Andorra, the Grand Prix of Spain consisted of only one day, as opposed to the more usual two day format, with Saturday being used instead on this occasion as a round of the European series. However unlike in Andorra, when Saturday’s trial was around of the Spanish domestic series, none of the top riders were eligible to compete prior to Sunday’s event. Careful planning by the organizers saw Saturdays and Sundays course follow a similar route, with many of the sections being shared for both trials, although the World trial versions had been greatly modified to create the correct level of severity for the status of the event.

With many of the sections being ridden for the first time, it was always going to be hard to gauge their true severity, but very soon it became clear that even the top riders had a tough day ahead of them. Raga and Lampkin matched each other through the opening hazards with a dab apiece, to post the best score in this early section. Although Fujinami had parted with three dabs to open his account, he was soon to recover some ground as he took another three marks along with Raga at the next section, whilst Lampkin tasted his first failure of the day.

With the course rapidly climbing from its starting height of 1400 metres, the next real test came at section six just before the summit of the grass covered mountain. Raga was head and shoulders above the rest here, his clean ride was unmatched all day, although Lampkin came close before needing a hefty two to pull himself clear of the final step. Fujinami lost important ground to his rivals at this point by collecting his first five of the trial. The eventual winner would add two more maximums to his score before the close of the lap, to leave him in third place and seven marks of the lead at the halfway point.

Raga and Lampkin committed their own errors later on the initial loop, but their first lap punch cards showed just two fives each, as the pair both recorded twenty seven marks on observation. However Raga was to be declared the interim leader, as Lampkin saw two time penalty marks added to his total, after having slightly exceeded the intermediate limit of three and a half hours for the first fifteen hazards.

Although Marc Freixa was within touching distance of the top three at this point, he was soon to lose any sight of a podium finish as he failed to improve his performance during the second lap. The severity of the course put the leading trio well clear of the rest of the field, leaving the victory to be decided between Raga, Lampkin and Fujinami. Again it was case of the best riders keeping the maximums to a minimum, as all three riders took fives that were the result of mistakes rather than the level of the sections.

Whilst Raga and Lampkin failed to show any great improvement on their respective morning performances, Fujinami was making a remarkable comeback and riding at a new level that not even his closest two rival could match. His recovery was awesome to watch, but the only fear was perhaps his charge was not going to be quite enough to earn his the win that he deserved simply thanks to his second lap score.

On this occasion Fujinami was about to get the roll of the dice. Raga was given a much disputed five for moving rocks at section twelve prior to his second attempt, and even an official protest after the trial could not get this decision reversed, whilst Lampkin added to his woes by fiving the very last section of the day to demote himself from joint leader to an eventual third place. Although Raga found it hard to believe, his own actions had allowed Fujinami to snatch the victory from him by just two marks, this fact was made worse as it was Ragas home Grand Prix.

Kenichi Kuroyama (Beta) finished a distant fourth ahead of his Spanish team mate Albert Cabestany (Beta) who was very disappointed with his performance on home soil. Freixa, in sixth place, headed three more Spanish riders as Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas), Jordi Pascuet (Gas Gas) and Antonio Bou (Beta) filled the next trio of positions respectively.

Having had to wait for the outcome of Ragas protest, Fujinami was delighted when he was finally declared the official winner. "Although I am please with the victory, it is perhaps one that I did not expect after riding so badly this morning. My performance was very much improved during the second lap, but still I did not think that I could win. I was very nervous to start with, but on the second lap I focussed more on my riding, rather than concerning myself with the performance of the other riders. I am disappointed at the reaction of Raga, concerning the final result, but I think he already knows this. I have a good position in the overall standings, but there is still work to do at the last round, if I am to become champion.

Raga failed to make it to the press conference, as he continued to pursue his protest, and only offered a brief comment as he left the disputed podium presentation: "This is not correct, and it is hard to believe that this has happened to me at my home trial.

Knowing that the title is all but out of reach Lampkin was critical about his own performance, amongst other things. "I am not happy for a number of reasons today. First with my riding on the last lap as I simply made too many silly mistakes, as has been the case for most of this year. Secondly the standard of observing was very poor today, no one got any advantage, but the level was simply bad, which is strange as these are the same observers who are normally both strict and consistent in the Spanish championship. The title is all but Fuji's, now all I can do is to make sure that I have a good finish in Switzerland to hold on to second place in the championship from Raga.

Following Ragas lead Freixa too had little to say about his day. "I think the result says enough, there is no point in making excuses, it is just another disappointing result in a disappointing year.

Dougie Lampkin (GB-Montesa)

Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)

World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 8 Pajares, Spain

Sunday Only

1 Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
2 Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas)
3 Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
4 Kenichi kuroyama (J-Beta)
5 Albert Cabestany (E-Beta)
6 Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)
7 Jeroni Fajardo (E-Gas Gas)
8 Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas)
9 Antonio Bou (E-Beta)
10 Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco)
11 Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas)
12 Josep Manzano (E-Beta)
13 Fumitaka Nozaki (J-Scorpa)
14 Jerome Bethune (F-Gas Gas)
15 Michele Orizio (I-Beta)

Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)
Related Links

· WCT - FIM World Championship for Trial
· Spain

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