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Toni Bou’s king of Barcelona

Toni Bou’s king of Barcelona

Marc Calvo

Toni Bou’s march to a 12th consecutive X-Trial World Championship continued unabated on Sunday evening as the Repsol Honda star stormed to a fifth successive win in the 2018 series.

This time it was in the huge Palau Sant Jordi stadium high on Montjuich in Barcelona in front of a claimed 9,000 fans.

Bou’s latest win was an equally amazing TWELFTH consecutive win in the Barcelona event, which is of course staged in the home city of both Bou and his Repsol Honda Montesa team.

And it was an all-Catalan podium for both riders and machines as Adam Raga on the TRS and Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas) followed Bou home.

For Raga it was a return to normality having been very disappointed with third place in the previous round in Strasbourg when the rules conspired to keep him out of the final even though he was by far Bou’s only serious challenger. Barcelona hosted their X-Trial for the 41st time but this year the fans were treated to the X-Trial promoter’s specific series sections, as used in previous rounds, and not the old-favourite, love it or hate it, hit or bust Spanish fayre.

Raga again took the fight to Bou and in the opening encounter – when the nine contenders took on the six sections in three heats – the TRS star and former Barcelona winner drew first blood, dropping just five marks which included the only clean of the fourth hazard as Bou took a maximum.

The only other rider to get through this hazard was Jaime Busto who went on to finish fifth.

Raga and Bou then of course went on to conclusively win their respective heats in the second round to set-up the Final between the two long-time protagonists.The crucial moment in the Final came as they tackled the third section where Raga recorded his only five, Bou dropping his first mark of the lap but moving six marks ahead.

From there, the two top contenders were evenly matched and the gap remained between them until the end of the final section.
Much to his delight and that of the crowd, Bou had secured his latest win with a section to spare, but finished with a flourish in the spectacular stadium section.

Raga had given it his best shot in what was the home event for all the Catalans and it is to Adam’s credit that he kept Toni honest right to the death.

It was a lock-out of the podium positions for home riders in Barcelona with Jeroni Fajardo enjoying his best performance of the new X-Trial with a valuable third place.

Jeroni claimed his first podium thanks to a clean in the final zone in round two and his result sees him through to the next round, X-Trial Sevilla, as the automatic qualifier, having got the better of event rider Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) in the second round.

The Japanese rider – a Barcelona resident for many years – finished sixth after close scoring in the second round, where third to sixth positions were decided by just four marks.

French sensation Benoit Bincaz (Scorpa) continued to demonstrate a high standard of riding by snatching fourth position despite the unfavourable first starting position in Heat One.

Bincaz sits in an amazing third place in the Championship standings, still 10 points ahead of Fajardo.

Meanwhile Jaime Busto matched his 2017 X-Trial Barcelona performance with another fifth position ahead of his former Repsol Honda teammate Fujinami.

Miquel Gelabert (Sherco) was eliminated in Round One for the first time in his debut X-Trial season but got the better of James Dabill (Beta) and Arnau Farré (Vertigo) for seventh.

Dabill started the X-Trial season with much promise but this early form has unfortunately tailed off and successive failures in sections three and four cost the British rider dearly as he took eighth – his worst finish of the campaign so far.

Rounding out the finishers was home Wild Card Arnau Farré (Vertigo), who sadly retired with an injury to the ligaments in his left knee.

The sixth round of the series is scheduled after a mid-season break for March 8 in Seville, the first time that the FIM X-Trial World Championship has visited the Andalusian capital.