FIM X-Trial

With the rule book thrown out of the win­dow it was a time for change at the open­ing round of the 2018 FIM X-Trial World Cham­pi­onship, which opened the door to a new dawn for the future of in­door com­pe­ti­tions. The Ven­deespace sta­dium in France and the new pro­moter 2Play had the five fixed rid­ers Toni Bou (Rep­sol-Honda-ESP); Adam Raga (TRS-ESP); Jaime Busto (Gas Gas-ESP); James Dabill (Beta-GBR) and Benoit Bin­caz (Scorpa-FRA) and the four in­vited rid­ers Ar­nau Farre (Ver­tigo-ESP); Jorge Casales (Ver­tigo-ESP); Mat­teo Grat­tarola (Montesa-ITA) and Jeroni Fa­jardo (Gas GasESP) on show in front of a packed sta­dium of a crowd of 3,200 mo­tor­cy­cle fans. The ac­tion was very ‘com­pact’ and in­tense but one el­e­ment still re­mained the same, the win­ner Toni Bou!

Be­fore the open­ing event a press re­lease was made to ex­plain what was hap­pen­ing with the changes: ‘The FIM and the com­pany 2Play are pleased to an­nounce that they have signed a Pro­moter Agree­ment for the FIM X-Trial World Cham­pi­onship – in­door trial. The Agree­ment is ini­tially for five years and it will take ef­fect for the 2017–18 sea­son. This part­ner­ship is in line with the FIM’s strate­gic ob­jec­tives for the devel­op­ment of the qual­ity of its World Cham­pi­onships and the mod­erni­sa­tion of its or­gan­i­sa­tion. In ad­di­tion to the X-Trial des Na­tions the 2017–18 cal­en­dar should fea­ture be­tween 7 and 8 events’.

The FIM Pres­i­dent Vito Ip­polito wel­comes the Agree­ment: “For some time now the FIM Board and the Trial Com­mis­sion have been ex­plor­ing ways of rein­vig­o­rat­ing our in­door Trial World Cham­pi­onship. The new con­cept put for­ward by 2Play and their ideas for the sport­ing side are very ap­peal­ing. Also, the con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence of Bernard Estri­peau and Josep Vergel in the world of mo­tor­cy­cling sport, and of Trial in par­tic­u­lar, im­pressed us as a solid in­di­ca­tor of their abil­ity to carry off the growth of this spec­tac­u­lar dis­ci­pline. The FIM looks for­ward to work­ing with 2Play for this new chap­ter in the his­tory of X-Trial.”

The 2Play Event Pro­duc­tion Man­ager Bernard Estri­peau added: “This new work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the FIM and 2Play will en­able us to launch a new con­cept for X-Trial. The rules will be a to­tal in­no­va­tion in our dis­ci­pline. This new sys­tem will en­able us to change the con­cept of the sec­tions and open up the sport to a larger num­ber of rid­ers. We also hope to at­tract young rid­ers into the dis­ci­pline. Al­to­gether the new con­cept should make the sport more spec­tac­u­lar and dy­namic.”

Un­der the new process where the rid­ers qual­ify and go through to the fi­nal this has also changed. A new for­mat will see three groups of rid­ers go through the elim­i­na­tion stages to de­ter­mine the com­pe­ti­tion’s even­tual win­ner, as the top six then pro­ceed to the next round in two heats and then the semi-fi­nal, where only the best of each of the two groups will go through to dis­pute the fi­nal. With the changes to the Cham­pi­onship it is ex­pected it will be both ex­cit­ing and spec­tac­u­lar, with a de­mand­ing se­lec­tion of haz­ards while rac­ing against a time limit of six min­utes that will put the skills and bal­ance of each of the nine rid­ers to the test in this new com­pe­ti­tion for­mat over the timed lap. Out of the nine rid­ers six were mak­ing their first ap­pear­ance on new ma­chin­ery for the 2018 sea­son.

The new for­mat had the rid­ers out in groups of three, with the six minute time al­lowance play­ing a part in the qual­i­fy­ing process. In heat one Mat­teo Grat­tarola, hav­ing moved to a satel­lite Montesa team, took first blood in front of Ver­tigo’s Jorge Casales and Ar­nau Farre. Mak­ing his de­but with the Gas Gas team Jaime Busto then edged out his team-mate Jeroni Fa­jardo in the open­ing heat in the sec­ond group of rid­ers. Great Bri­tain’s James Dabill looked the most ner­vous in the third group but he fin­ished one mark in front of Raga, who had a mas­sive crash on the fi­nal haz­ard when his hand came off the han­dle­bars as he dropped down from the high sec­tion six. Bou parted with a sin­gle mark.

Round two with its two heats would de­ter­mine a win­ner from each one to pro­ceed to the fi­nal. Busto had switched his skills from Montesa fourstroke to Gas Gas two-stroke power, and pushed Raga down to sec­ond as Fa­jardo dropped off the pace. Bou eas­ily headed both James Dabill, who was de­but­ing with his Beta, and home French rider Benoit Bi­naz. In the Span­ish fi­nal be­tween Bou and Busto it was the 11 times de­fend­ing cham­pion who raised his game to an­other level to throw out a warn­ing to any­one who wants to chal­lenge for his undis­puted crown as the king of in­door tri­als: they will have to come up with some­thing spe­cial, as he once again dom­i­nated the ac­tion.

Jaime Busto (Gas Gas-ESP) Jeroni Fa­jardo (Gas Gas-ESP) James Dabill (Beta-GBR)

Toni Bou (Rep­sol Honda-ESP) Adam Raga (TRRS-ESP)

Jorge Casales (Ver­tigo-ESP) Benoit Bin­caz (Scorpa-FRA) Ar­nau Ferre (Ver­tigo-ESP) Mat­teo Grat­tarola (Montesa-ITA)

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