Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) set course for a twelfth TrialGP crown last weekend with a dominant display in the opening 2018 TrialGP in Camprodon, Catalonia, Spain.
Young gun Jaime Busto (Gas Gas) finished a convincing second with Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas) third, just one mark ahead of new Vertigo signing Jorge Casales as the old order finally slipped somewhat, with reigning vice-champion Adam Raga (TRS) down in a disappointing fifth.
Britain’s James Dabill finished sixth ahead of new Beta team-mate Albert Cabestany. In Trial2 Britain’s Jack Peace (Gas Gas) finished an impressive second behind Italian Matteo Grattarola (Honda), the latter dropping down after finishing tenth in TrialGP last season. Toby Martyn finished just off the podium with another TrialGP escapee Loris Gubian (Gas Gas) third.
Billy Green took his Beta to a superb victory for Britain in Trial125 though, the 2017 series runner-up stepping up to the plate in style. Having achieved his 12th X-Trial World title earlier this year it was simply business as usual for defending champion Bou at Campradon.
Having made an uncharacteristic mistake in Saturday’s Qualifying, Bou was careful not to repeat the blunder and simply stormed away from his rivals. Campradon, at the foot of the Pyrenees, boasts natural sections providing a tough but fair test, but torrential rain at the end of the first lap continued all afternoon turning it into a high-scoring event as the steep banks, imposing rocks and technical streams became increasingly slippery.
Even Bou succumbed to four maximums on the second lap. The deteriorating conditions also slowed the riders’ progress, with all but one of the TrialGP contenders incurring time penalties.
Bou had dominated the first lap on just 13 marks, some 12 ahead of second-placed Busto but several uncharacteristic mistakes him to stay close in the second half of the event.
However, any hopes Busto may have entertained of a shock evaporated as Bou took charge and the young pretender finished 157 marks adrift at the end. Busto’s second-place equalled his career-best results in Andorra and the USA last year and proved he has adapted well to his shock switch from the mighty Repsol Honda squad to the two-stroke power of Gas Gas.
New Vertigo pilot Jorge Casales was third at the end of the opening, but more experienced fellow- Spaniard Jeroni Fajardo reeled him in on lap two to claim the final step on the podium by a single mark. Adam Raga (TRS) for so long Bou’s main challenger slipped to fifth, one mark behind Casales – not the start Adam was hoping for.
James Dabill was the first non-Spanish rider home in sixth, followed by fellow Beta rider Spaniard Albert Cabestany and Japanese veteran Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) who was eighth. Fuji finished eighth after winning a tie-break with Britain’s Jack Price (Gas Gas), the 20-year-old only half Fuji’s age, who matched his career-best finish achieved on day two in Japan last year.
Reigning Trial2 Champ Iwan Roberts (TRS) opted to move up to TrialGP this year but after being out of action with a debilitating virus since early in the New Year and only returning to action at the recent Scottish Six Days, he was always going to be up against it.
TrialGP is a massive step up from Trial2 and after fiving the Qualifying section on Saturday Iwan was first through the sections in his first ever TrialGP. Despite this baptism of fire the Welsh ace kept trying and even out-performed experienced Frenchman Alex Ferrer (Sherco) on the second lap, so there is plenty to come from Iwan as he gains in strength and experience.
Trial2 was always going to be interesting with Italian Matteo Grattarola (Honda) the 2017 World No.10 and fellow TrialGP rider French ace Loris Gubian (Gas Gas) having dropped down from the Premier class to take on the up-and-coming youngsters.
And it was the experienced 30-year-old Grattarola who parted with just 13 marks to win from British teenager Jack Peace (Gas Gas). Jack, eighth in the championship last year with a top result of third in the Czech Republic, claimed a career-best second-place.
The talented 17-year-old’s score of 27 saw him take the important scalp of Gubian in a fantastic start for Jack who is clearly a year older and wiser and will be looking to forge on from here. Fellow Brit Toby Martyn was only four marks off the podium in his first TWC outing on the Montesa four-stroke after switching from the Vertigo two-stroke and this too shows much promise to come.
But it was incredibly close in the points behind the Cornish youngster, with Dan Peace (Gas Gas) – Jack’s older brother – in eighth but only four marks behind Toby. Oliver Smith (Gas Gas), Hugo Jervis (TRS) and Ulster’s Josh Hanlon (Beta) all battled hard but clocked-up three-figure scores which just shows the severity of the sections on the day.
Last year’s Trial125 champion, Italian Lorenzo Gandola (Scorpa), just failed to break the top-10 with an eleventh-placed finish as he copes with the jump to Trial2. With Trial125 being given full FIM World Championship status for 2018 there was extra impetus for the class and it was Britain’s Billy Green (Beta) – runner-up in 2017 to the older Lorenzo Gandola – who claimed a comfortable victory.
In Trial125 it is impossible to predict if a new youngster will burst onto the scene or if one year’s extra growth sees an average rider suddenly become a potentially great one. But for the first round it is great to be able to report that for Team GB it all went exactly as we hoped!
Devonian Billy, still only 16 years old, got his World Championship campaign off to a stunning start with his final total of just 25 marks – a full 19 marks ahead of Spain’s Martin Hermelo (Gas Gas) who pushed top qualifier, France’s Arthur Rovery (Sherco) from France back into third – in the final section of the trial.
With Billy in a class of his own it was actually quite tight for his Championship rivals behind and there was another Brit in the points as Scotland’s Ben Dignan (Gas Gas) bagged two for 14th place.
Beta-mounted Jake and Andrew Eley battled round to the finish but unfortunately outside the points.