After the excitement of Saturday’s Sheffield Indoor event, the 2018 X-Trial World Championship gets back on track in France this Saturday, January 13. The second of eight rounds takes place in the town of Montpelier following the opener in Vendee.
The series’ five permanent riders are Toni Bou (Repsol Honda), Jaime Busto (Gas Gas), Adam Raga (TRS), James Dabill (Beta) and Benoit Bincaz (Scorpa), the latter representing the home nation (for the first five rounds) of France.
But in for Montpelier come three new wildcard (Event) riders headed by Japanese legend Takahisa Fujinami. The veteran Repsol Honda teamster is the latest addition and Fujigas will line-up alongside Miquel Gelabert (Sherco) and French star Alexandre Ferrer (Sherco). Gelabert rode superbly to third place at Sheffield last Saturday and will be keen to show his skills again.
Former world No.2 Fujinami –always a crowd favourite and who will be performing in the Sud de France Arena – made his X-Trial debut in 1998. Since then he’s made a total of 131 appearances, achieving 35 podiums including his sole victory to date, in Koblenz, Germany, in 2004.
Ferrer, surprisingly, has made a total of 20 World Championship appearances, and he will aim to improve on his previous best result of a fifth position taken in Sheffield back in 2013.
Completing the line-up in Montpelier will be Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas), who also took part in Vendée and qualified to the second round as the best-performing Event Rider (wildcard) in the opening event of the campaign.
Once again, the task of the challengers is to somehow topple Toni Bou as he chases a new record of 12 consecutive X-Trial Championships having already nailed maximum points in the opening round and of course having posted yet another stunning win in Sheffield.
The-eight round 2018 X-Trial series begins with four rounds in France but that is of no consequence to Bou who is always favourite to win in whatever country!