Adam Raga (TRRS) nailed his first victory of 2019 in a close-fought X-Trial Barcelona. Raga beat arch-rival Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) by a single mark in an epic head-to-head final on Sunday evening in the iconic Palau Saint Jordi stadium set high on Montjuic Parc.
An incredible 17 years to the day since his first X-Trial victory in his home event, Raga returned to win his sixth X-Trial Barcelona – and his first in a decade – to end Bou’s amazing 10-year reign in his home city, in front of an estimated 10,000 thrilled spectators.
The result was a reversal of the opening round in Budapest a fortnight previously, when Bou prevailed in the two-man final. There were no Brits invited to the Catalan stronghold and it was Luca Petrella (Beta) who was effectively the sacrificial lamb this time round and after a hard-fought three in the opening section, a run of four maximums in the remaining four hazards saw Petrella down and out – although just to take part in Barcelona is quite an experience in itself.
Long-time Barca resident Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) and Jorge Casales (Vertigo) joined the young Italian in the early bath following the opening round. Casales missed out on a place in the second stage after successfully progressing in Budapest, while there was no consolation for Fujinami in beating the Spaniard to seventh position.
Italian youngster Petrella continues his development in the discipline after making his first appearance of the campaign. The two riders who shone brightest in the 2018 X-Trial season Benoit Bincaz (Beta) and Miquel Gelabert (Sherco) were the two eliminated in Round Two.
French youngster Bincaz was unlucky to miss out on a place in the Consolation Final by just a single mark at the hands of Jaime Busto (Gas Gas) in Heat One. In the second heat, Gelabert was unfortunately never at the races after a fall in section two that tweaked the foot injury he was carrying and which had kept the teenager out of the opening round in Budapest.
So, with the elimination heats over, the Consolation Final was a repeat of the line-up in Budapest, with Gas Gas team-mates Jaime Busto and Jeroni Fajardo again squaring-up for the final podium positions. But while Fajardo triumphed in Hungary, this time round it was Busto who came out on top to claim third place – albeit by just a single mark, after impressing with a clean in section two where he had seen Fajardo drop two.
There were further similarities with the opening round as just as in the Hungarian capital, the X-Trial result went down to the final ride, but this time reigning champ Bou just narrowly missed out. Bou admittedly started the Final with some physical concerns after a heavy fall in section four of the second round necessitating medical intervention to his back.
And, although the home hero showed champion spirit to keep his chances alive into the last section, Raga maintained enough of an early three-mark advantage to take victory. With a win and second place apiece, the two Barca boys are joint first in the Championship, while Gas Gas guys Busto and Fajardo are also tied, having traded third and fourth places. Bincaz holds a clear fifth, although, already a long way behind the leaders.
The 2019 X-Trial FIM World Championship now continues its Spanish tour with the third round of the campaign in Bilbao on Saturday, February 16.