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WCTMoutier, SwitzerlandSeptember 5, 2004
World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 9 Moutier, Switzerland
Fujinami takes his first World title

Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Montesa HRC) finally reach his dream after five years in waiting, a 3-2 result at the Swiss Grand Prix was enough to give him and Japan their first ever World trials title. "I have been waiting a long time for this moment, and although I am happy to have finally arrived at this position the full size of what I have achieved is not totally clear in mind at this minute. I think it will be some days until I fully realize just what I have achieved." Whilst the title was Fujinami's, the weekend belonged to the exiting champion Dougie Lampkin (Repsol Montesa HRC) who recorded back to back wins, including a totally awesome display during Sunday's trial.



Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)


Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)

After its traditional summer respite, the World trials championship returned with just the final round remaining, but with the title still to be decided. Fujinami brought a twenty four point advantage to the small town of Moutier, which can be found approximately sixty kilometres south west of the Swiss city of Basel. With this kind of lead, it was obvious that only an absolute disaster would prevent the Japanese rider taking his first World crown. Whilst it seemed that the destination of the title was in little doubt, the fight for the runners up spot was certain to produce a fierce finale between Lampkin and Raga who were only separated by four points as they arrived in Switzerland.

Although not a country best recognized for trials, the Swiss organizers had made the wise move of employing the services of French ex World championship contender Bruno Camozzi to assist with the design of the sections. The resulting course proved to one of the toughest of the season, as despite modifications to ease some zones following the riders inspection on Friday afternoon, heavy rain during the evening added its own severity. With the course measuring twenty two kilometres in length the Jury allowed twenty minutes to be added to each of the lap allowances to give an overall time limit of six hours and ten minutes to complete the two laps of fifteen sections.

The action opened on dry boulders that had been carefully placed to create a series of awesome steps, the penultimate angled slab being perhaps the most difficult. Whilst visually spectacular, the opening hazard took few marks from the main riders, with the eventual top five all passing this initial test unpenalized. It was a similar story at section two with the massive concrete face actually looking far more imposing than it rode. Lampkin and Raga maintained their clean scorecards, whilst a slightly nervous Fujinami needed just a single dab along with Antonio Bou (Beta).

Section three marked the start of the trial proper, the damp and slippery boulders followed by a greasy climb was a theme that then continued through the remaining hazards, only with the exception of the final section which was of an indoor style back inside the start / finish hall. Albert Cabestany (Beta) confirmed himself as early leader with the only clean ride at section three on the first lap, whilkst Lampkin looking somewhere back near his best came closest to matching this feat, needing just a prod close to the finish to move ahead of Raga who lost two marks in the same hazard. Struggling to focus on the trial rather than the championship Fujinami came unstuck early in the hazard to record his first maximum of the day.

No rider managed to pass through section four for less than three marks, and with hazards five and six being two of the easiest on the course, little had changed amongst the leaders when they arrived at section seven. The angled muddy exit here was causing all the problems, and whilst both Fujinami and Raga would produce miracle single dab rides on their second visits, no one escaped with less than three marks on the first lap. Having spent much time on the early part of the lap, the riders then elected not even to attempt section nine as they felt that it was both impossible and dangerous and was an ideal opportunity to gain a few valuable minutes.

Lampkin's ride through the remaining hazards, and Cabestany's failure on the final section was enough to give the British rider a slim lead over close rival Raga at the halfway point. Having demoted himself to third position at this stage, Cabestany could at least take some satisfaction in heading the champion elect, namely Fujinami who was back in fourth when all the first lap scores had been posted.

Conditions for the second lap remained consistent, which in turn kept the lap scores constant with no real improvements in performance by any of the riders. Realizing that he had close company Lampkin rode a measured closing lap based on safety and consolidation to maintain his small advantage. His plan was perfectly executed to come home two marks ahead of Raga to take his third victory of the year. As Cabestany's campaign faded badly, Fujinami produced some better rides to take a clear third place come the finish, just nine marks off the eventual winning score. Antonio Bou recorded his best ever World result by taking fourth place, ahead of his team mate Cabestany. Marc Freixa never featured amongst the front runners all day and suffered one his worst riders of the year to finish in a lowly ninth place.

Lampkin was obviously delighted with his performance. "I came here knowing that the title was all but out of reach, so my objective was to come here and win, not only to maintain the pressure on Fuji, but also to keep my advantage over Raga. It has been a tough trial today, and in the end there has been little to separate the top three, as we are all riding very well. To win when the standard is so high is very satisfying and confirms that I can still run with the best, also to open up a seven point lead over Adam going into tomorrow at least gives me some level of comfort. I just hope I can repeat a similar performance and result tomorrow."

Although he now trailed Lampkin by seven points in the race for second place in the championship, Raga was up beat about his day. "I feel that I rode well today, the only problem was that Lampkin rode even better today, in fact it was probably one of his best rides of this season. In these wet and slippery conditions to be so close to Dougie shows that I have made a good improvement in this part of my riding. I know Lampkin has a big lead over me going to the final day tomorrow, so I think now that it will be difficult to become vice champion."

With the title within reach Fujinami could be happy with his result. "Although I tried to focus 100% on the trial this morning it was difficult for me to keep my concentration. I was very nervous on the first lap and this showed in my riding as I was unable to match either Lampkin or Raga. Thankfully during the second lap I recovered some of my concentration and managed to make a result that brought me to the podium. OK, it would have been nice to take the championship today, but I can wait until tomorrow now, the only point that is important this weekend is to become World champion."

Freixa confirmed the level of his failure with a brief statement. "It is a terrible result, in what has been a bad season. I never found my confidence in the slippery conditions and this was my down fall today."

Modifications to ten sections over night brought a new trial for Sunday morning. Many of the changes involved reducing the length or removing certain technical parts to reduce the overall severity of the sections, this coupled with drying weather created a far easier trial than the day before.

Today the story would be about three riders. Fujinami had little interest in the day's result and rode well ahead of his rivals to give himself maximum opportunity to repair any rogue mechanical fault that may stop him becoming World champion through having to retire. With the title all but gone, Lampkin and Raga once again consumed themselves in a battle for the victory, the runners up spot in the championship and mental supremacy.

Despite having little regard for todays outcome, Fujinami found himself in a position of comfort by holding second place after the first lap only three marks behind the early leader Lampkin. Raga would have slipped into second place but for a very uncharacteristic five in the final indoor section to increase his halfway score to fifteen. Instead he found himself back in fifth behind Fajardo and Cabestany respectively.

Like a true champion Fujinami rounded off his season with some meaning to hold on to second place come finish and in doing so secure his first ever World title after five years as vice champion. Fujinami is the first ever Japanese World trials champion and the second only ever Japanese off road World champion, Akira Watanabe, was the other who won the 125 cc motocross title for Suzuki back in 1978.

Lampkin confirmed that he is not finished just yet with an outstanding performance throughout the day to net his second victory of the weekend, and this time by an impressive margin. Raga could not prevent Lampkin taking the runners up spot in the overall standings, and also had to settle for third place on the day.

The champion Fujinami spoke about his feat. "It would have been perfect to have won today, but Lampkin was too strong. But really the only thing that mattered this weekend was taking the title and that is exactly what I have done. After so many years of being close, you sometimes think that it may never happen, but now the facts show that is true. I have a good feeling now, but I am sure that in the next few days it will become even better. My name may be on the championship, but I also want to thank all my team, as they have been exceptionally strong for all of the season. They too deserve to be happy."

Not even his double victories could hide Lampkin's disappointment. "I am pleased with my result today, but it means little to me when the championship is not mine. I came here to finish strongly and leave a message ready for next season, so at least I have done that. All I feel at the moment is total and utter disappointment, and it isn't a good feeling. Over the season Fujinami has deserved the title, but I feel I should have maybe put up a better fight."

Raga confirmed that he had no answer to Lampkin this weekend. "I had hoped to take second place from Lampkin, but he has ridden at his best this weekend, so I can not expect to over take him in the championship. It has not been a bad finish to the year, but at the start of the season I really believed that I could be champion. Now we need to start working for 2005 already."

It was again a bad day for Freixa. "I rode better than yesterday, but still my result is very poor. I need the winter to train hard and to arrive back next year at a new level.".




Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)


Marc Freixa (E-Montesa)

World Outdoor Trials Championship Round 9 Moutier, Switzerland

Saturday
line

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



Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa)
Sunday
line

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



Doug Lampkin (GB-Montesa) & Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)

Takahisa Fujinami - The most worthy champion

The long wait is finally over, and at last Takahisa Fujinami can add the title of FIM World Outdoor Trials Champion to his name, and in doing so he becomes Japan's first ever World trials champion as well as adding yet another global success to Honda's great sporting history. Moreover Fujinami's victory is only Japan's second ever off road World title, the other being secured by Akira Watanabe, who won the 125 cc motocross title for Suzuki back in 1978.



Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)


Takahisa Fujinami (J-Honda)

2004 was Fujinami's year. Nine seasons after this young Japanese rider joined the international trials series and at the age of twenty-four years old, he has finally achieved his dream and ultimate goal. Whilst riders who become World champion of their chosen discipline are worthy, none is more worthy than this man. After five successive years as runner up to the now deposed World champion Dougie Lampkin, many thought that Takahisa's best opportunity of taking the crown had gone when he lost the final round showdown against his long standing rival last year.

This was reflected in the tears that Fujinami shed on that fateful Sunday afternoon last September, as whilst he had suffered defeat before, this time it was too close to accept and inwardly at that moment he too was asking the question to himself would he ever be King? Winter training was long and hard, and Fujinami arrived at the opening 2004 outdoor round in Ireland as a new rider.

Filled with fresh confidence after taking the runners up spot in the World indoor series ahead of Lampkin, he knew that he was a more complete rider than Adam Raga when the battle shifted to more natural terrain. Also most importantly self-created expectancy had given way to a renewed and deeper determination.

Whilst Lampkin battled to keep a hold on his crown, Fujinami was mounting his own stronger campaign that really took shape with back to back day wins, to earn him his first overall victory at his home Grand Prix held at the famous Motegi Twin Ring circuit. Despite the series shifting continents in a matter of weeks, Takahisa maintained his winning momentum with yet another double victory in America two weekends later.

Lampkin was suffering, his only line of defence was consistency, but with Fujinami's current form this was not enough and something needed to change if he was to turn the tables on his team mate. An all out assault in Andorra, to try and close the gap ended in disaster for the reigning champion as he slumped to seventh place, his worst result for seven years. In salty contrast Takahisa further extended his advantage with a solid second place behind Raga in dry and dusty conditions.

In the mountains of Northern Italy a week later Fujinami and Lampkin shared the spoils, although it was Takahisa again who took the overall GP victory, having tied on points the eventual winner was decided by the best second day result. Seizing one last chance to inflict further pain on his rivals before the summer break, Fujinami snatched the win at the Spanish round to put himself twenty four points clear going into the final round.

The beautiful country of Switzerland brought the dream true, after years of imagining lifting the title, the moment had finally come and after the long wait and a tense weekend it was not a minute too soon. The words – Takahisa Fujinami, World Trials Champion will remain with the Japanese rider for the rest of his life and so they should, as ever since he was a child, he and his family have worked endlessly for this great day. Next month will see the end to a perfect year, with the arrival of Takahisa's and his wife Noako's first child. Reminder enough that birth and winning remain two of life's most special emotions.

2005 will see a new era for Fujinami, Honda and for the World of trials as a whole, when the new Honda four stroke machine makes it full debut in the championship. Having already recorded top ten places on its maiden outing at the Japanese GP earlier this year in the hands of Tomoyuki Ogawa, and with early testing going well, it would seem that the opposition will face a new and stronger challenger to fight with during next season.


Takahisa Fujinami – Japan
Team Montesa HRC - Team manager Miguel Sirera

Racing number : 2
Race machine : Cota315R

Date of birth : January 13, 1980
Place of birth : Mie Prefecture

First trial : 1990 Chiba
World Trials debut : 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, Navacerrada – Honda
First World Trials win : 1997 German Grand Prix, Thalheim - Honda

Total World Trials wins : 19 day wins all Honda (to date 1/9/04)

World titles : 1 in 2004.

Career Highlights - Takahisa Fujinami

1995 : Japanese Trials Champion Honda
1996 : 7th World Championship Honda
1997 : 4th World Championship Honda - 1 win
1998 : 5th World Championship Honda
1998 : 7th World Cup Indoor Championship
1999 : 2nd World Championship Honda
1999 : 9th World Cup Indoor Championship
2000 : 2nd World Championship Honda
2000 : 6th World Cup Indoor Championship
2001 : 2nd World Championship Honda - 1 win
2001 : 6th World Cup Indoor Championship
2001 : Japanese Champion
2002 : 2nd World Trials Championship Honda - 3 wins
2002 : 6th World Indoor Cup
2003 : 2nd World Championship Honda - 6 wins
2003 : 5th World Indoor Championship
2004 : 2nd World Indoor Cup
2004 : World Trials Champion Honda - 8 wins (to date,1/9/04)

Related Links

· WCT - FIM World Championship for Trial
· Switzerland


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