Jeroni Fa­jardo

Trial Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS: JOHN HULME WITH JERONI FA­JARDO • PIC­TURES: TRI­ALS ME­DIA, MARIO CANDELLONE AND PE­TER J BEARDMORE

Life is very much about times and places, and this is highly ev­i­dent in any form of sport. Just take a look at just how many mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers have un­doubted tal­ent, who have been over­shad­owed by other rid­ers who kept them away from the top spot of the sport as a world cham­pion. The Trial World Cham­pi­onship is no dif­fer­ent as we have seen two rid­ers dom­i­nate the series since Adam Raga won world ti­tles in 2005 and 2006 be­fore Toni Bou con­trolled the world cham­pi­onship un­til the present day. Spain’s Jeroni Fa­jardo ar­rived on the in­ter­na­tional tri­als scene in 2002, win­ning the FIM Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship ti­tle. In the same year, he started to com­pete in the world cham­pi­onship, scor­ing his first points in Amer­ica for Gas Gas. Over the next 16 years, he would be a con­stant thorn in the side of his fel­low com­peti­tors as he bat­tled for the top spot in the sport. Two world round wins came his way, but he has very much been a man in the shadow of the top two. Show­ing some of his best form in 2018, we de­cided it was time to have a chat with the man him­self, who ap­pears to be en­joy­ing life to the full.

Your 2018 Trial World Cham­pi­onship sea­son has been one of your best, can you ex­plain why?

The move back to Gas Gas was like com­ing home, as it was with that team that I first moved into the world cham­pi­onship back in 2002. It’s like a fam­ily to which I be­long. Also, the machine is so, so good. Ev­ery time I get on the Gas Gas, my pas­sion and com­pet­i­tive lev­els go up to an­other level. It’s a strange sen­sa­tion but, in my heart, I feel as though I want to al­ways, at ev­ery event, give them my very best — which works well for the team.

I wit­nessed the win in Ja­pan on day one; that was some ride.

You know, some­times you wake up in the morn­ing, and you just know it’s go­ing to be a good day. Well that was Ja­pan on day one.

Qual­i­fy­ing had been very dis­ap­point­ing as you are pe­nalised so heav­ily for even the smallest of mis­takes. It may be a slow time, or maybe los­ing marks, but the pres­sure to per­form in such a short space of time is so in­tense. With the slow­est time, I was the first rider away from the start on day one. I de­cided to ride my own event; I rode ev­ery hazard first on the open­ing lap. Af­ter the first few haz­ards I felt re­ally good and, with this, con­fi­dence. I com­pleted the open­ing lap part­ing with no marks! I rode the sec­ond lap very much know­ing that every­one else was un­der pres­sure to catch me up. Every­one in the team worked so well and, with it, the re­sult came, which was the re­ward to Gas Gas for hav­ing faith in me when I joined the team for 2018.

The 2018 Gas Gas team had a mix of both youth, with Jaime Busto, and ex­pe­ri­ence with your­self.

Yes, it is, shall we say, quite an in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion of the two: youth and ex­pe­ri­ence. Jaime wants to win at ev­ery­thing, full stop. Such is his com­pet­i­tive level (his life is 100% based around en­joy­ing him­self on a mo­tor­cy­cle and I un­der­stand this), he is young and am­bi­tious and it’s good to see him start­ing out in his tri­als ca­reer at the very top. On the other hand, I have a fam­ily and two young chil­dren and my life is much calmer than that of

a younger per­son. I can eval­u­ate sit­u­a­tions bet­ter, hav­ing seen and ex­pe­ri­enced so much in life. The team works very well, and we both have mas­sive mu­tual re­spect for one an­other, which is very im­por­tant. At this mo­ment in time, my life is very good, and I en­joy ev­ery as­pect of it.

Does the Gas Gas you ride have many changes from the pro­duc­tion machine?

Gas Gas pro­vides very well put-to­gether pro­duc­tion ma­chines. Ours are taken from the same pro­duc­tion line as the ones you can pur­chase your­self. We take it apart right down to ev­ery last nut and bolt and then re­build it. Dur­ing this process we can make any changes or ad­just­ments but, be­lieve me, there are very few. Yes, we are al­ways work­ing with the sus­pen­sion and the en­gine to make sure we can get the best per­for­mance in all ar­eas. I have my per­sonal pref­er­ences ap­plied from the many spon­sors who sup­port the team. I have two what we term ‘race’ ma­chines and two which are used to test new parts and for train­ing. These ma­chines will be ro­tated dur­ing the sea­son and in­tro­duced with any up­dates etc.

Your fit­ness has never been in doubt. Can you give us an in­sight into your train­ing pro­gramme?

Gen­er­ally, I love cy­cling and putting the road miles in which is where I find the soli­tude. Where I am alone, it’s a chance to clear the head. I spend time in the gym, as do all ath­letes, to keep all ar­eas of my body at their very best. Rid­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle is also very im­por­tant, and I train on it as much as pos­si­ble. Some­times it’s just me, the team and oth­ers or with other rid­ers from the tri­als ‘fam­ily’. If I need any en­ter­tain­ment, I take Jaime along!

Toni Bou has dom­i­nated the sport. What makes him so good?

He is a machine; it’s as sim­ple as that. In any one life­time some­one comes along who is ex­cep­tion­ally good; just look at Valentino Rossi in Mo­toGP and how dom­i­nant Michael Schu­macher was in For­mula 1. No one ever thought there would be an­other Jordi Tar­res; then came along Dougie Lamp­kin then, of course, Toni Bou. His chase for con­stant per­fec­tion is what makes him so good. At ev­ery hazard, he looks to be per­fect all the way through. In his mind, he is also so fo­cussed and can zone in so well. As I rider, if I'm able to chal­lenge him, I have to try and un­der­stand how to break his ‘ar­mour’. It’s dif­fi­cult but not im­pos­si­ble, as I have proved.

At such a young age you were around as the new gen­er­a­tion Gas Gas Pro model was in­tro­duced in 2002. Were you in­volved in its de­vel­op­ment?

I was in a very priv­i­leged po­si­tion as the Gas Gas ‘fam­ily’ were lit­er­ally like that to me — a fam­ily. In the early days, the Pro model was tough work as it was so new, to the point of be­ing rad­i­cal. The work­ings of the two-stroke en­gine and its man­u­fac­tur­ing process changed to make it so small and com­pact. All the other man­u­fac­tur­ers knew they were in trou­ble when the Pro was in­tro­duced.

Gas Gas al­ways in­no­vates. The in­tro­duc­tion of the di­aphragm clutch was a sig­nif­i­cant break­through in the tri­als worlds and the bench­mark for every­one else to fol­low. At such a young age, it was ex­cit­ing for me to be in­volved with this project. It taught me so much about machine set-up which I would ben­e­fit from in the later stages of my ca­reer.

How tough was your first year in the world cham­pi­onship?

My in­tro­duc­tion to tri­als came about through cy­cle tri­als when I was very young, as it does with many of the Span­ish rid­ers. In the early days, it’s just such a tough learn­ing curve as every­one looks bet­ter than your­self. You have to ded­i­cate your life to the sport to suc­ceed, and this was some­thing I de­cided to do at a very young age. You first have to learn how to get through the haz­ards and then un­der­stand how to read the haz­ards. Once I had gone through this process, it was very much a case of work­ing very hard.

Af­ter find­ing your feet in the world cham­pi­onship from 2002–2004, you took your first podium in France 2005 with a sec­ond po­si­tion.

Both Dougie Lamp­kin and Takahisa Fu­ji­nami were so dom­i­nant; they had the sup­port of the Rep­sol Honda Team. Gas Gas had Adam Raga. When you are up against these peo­ple, week in and week out, you just have to re­main fo­cussed and keep your sights on the ul­ti­mate goal in an early ca­reer, which is the podium. When I ar­rived there, it was a very happy day, be­lieve me, with a mas­sive sense of re­lief too!

At the end of 2006, you de­cided to move from Gas Gas to Beta.

The move was for me, per­son­ally, was a very dif­fi­cult one as Gas Gas had treated me so well. Adam Raga was the world cham­pion, and I fully un­der­stand that he was the main fo­cus. I wanted a new mo­ti­va­tion, and the move to Beta was to an­other good solid team. The whole pack­age was very good, and I be­lieved that I had the knowl­edge to chal­lenge for the world cham­pi­onship with the new team around me. They made me very wel­come.

You moved up to sixth in 2007 and then fourth in the world cham­pi­onship for the next three years, tak­ing your first world round win in An­dorra 2009.

In the world cham­pi­onship, there were some ter­rific bat­tles for the vic­tory with a very high stan­dard of rid­ing. Toni had taken to the four-stroke like, as they say in Eng­land, 'a duck to wa­ter'. The marks were some­times very close. One five-mark penalty could push you away from the podium and, in many cases, the vic­tory. As was the case in Ja­pan my first world round vic­tory came off the back of hav­ing a very good feel­ing, as it did in An­dorra. I felt very good all day, and, in fact, I was not sur­prised I won. It was a very spe­cial day and a re­ward for all my hard work and com­mit­ment to the world cham­pi­onship.

In 2011 the move to Ossa re­sulted in a dif­fi­cult year.

It was a project that promised so much. I re­ally looked for­ward to the chal­lenge of a new machine, but it did not work out. I was for­tu­nate enough to be able to move back to Beta.

The move back home to Beta re­sulted in your best years in the TWC?

Af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment and up­set with Ossa the re­turn to Beta was a mas­sive breath of fresh air. I was very, very mo­ti­vated and wanted to show the world I could still com­pete with the very best. As al­ways, Beta gave me a su­perb machine to com­pete on. Be­cause I was so happy my re­sults re­turned nat­u­rally and, once again, I was en­joy­ing the sport I had in­vested so much time and ef­fort.

Were the two years on the Vertigo not what you ex­pected?

With the move to elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion and quite a rad­i­cal look­ing new machine, the project was very ex­cit­ing. Maybe I was not as happy as I would have liked, how­ever, hav­ing to learn how the fuel in­jec­tion worked to gain the ben­e­fits from it. I looked at where I was in my ca­reer and when the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to Gas Gas came it was time to make a move 'home’.

Back on the Gas Gas for 2018, you looked like a new rider!

At this mo­ment in time, I am very happy with life in gen­eral. I have my fam­ily with my two young chil­dren and I am rid­ing as well as I have ever done in my tri­als ca­reer. Yes, life is good. The re­sults in 2018 have come from su­perb sup­port both at home and in the Gas Gas team, and the con­stant search for per­fec­tion in my rid­ing has def­i­nitely been re­warded this year.

How much longer can you be com­pet­i­tive as a top rider in the FIM Trial World Cham­pi­onship?

The big­gest fear is in­jury as we have seen with Toni. Twice this year he has had to over­come the pain bar­rier to con­tinue win­ning. If I can keep in­juryfree and the op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sport con­tinue, I be­lieve I can re­main com­pet­i­tive at this level for many more years to come!

Youth: Jaime Busto; and ex­pe­ri­ence – Jeroni Fa­jardo. We are Team Gas Gas.

2018: Tak­ing the win on day one in Ja­pan – the per­fect day ar­rived!

That in­cred­i­ble feel­ing when you are on top of the world – Ja­pan 2018.

2002: Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship Podium: 1 Jeroni Fa­jardo; 2 Sergi Lenzi; 3 Fabio Lezi; 4 Gre­gory Eyres; 5 Michael Phillip­son.

52 2007: A move to Beta for the sea­son, seen here in Spain at the open­ing round.

2006: World Cham­pi­onship ac­tion on the Gas Gas.

2009: The first win at the very top of the sport in An­dorra.

2008: Lux­em­bourg on the Beta.

2010: All ac­tion, at the world cham­pi­onship round in Scot­land.

2011: The move to Ossa did not work out.

2015: Very much in con­trol on the Beta high up in An­dorra at the World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship.

2012: Back in the calm of the Beta fac­tory team.

High fly­ing on the Vertigo in France.

2018: This is how we ar­rive at the re­sults in the Trial World Cham­pi­onship, as a team.

2018: Along­side one of the newer rid­ers in the Trial World Cham­pi­onship Jack Price.

Win­ners with Gas Gas.

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