2018 TRIALE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Yamaha were out in force for round two as they focussed on their very first FIM Trial World Championship trophy, having won round one. The narrow streets around the market town of Comblain Au Pont in Belgium were full of the factory support trucks, including a huge presence from Yamaha which gave some added excitement to the deciding round.
After his disaster in the qualifying for round one in France, where he parted with a five-mark penalty to put him at the head of the field to ride the hazards first in the trial, the eventual world champion Loris Gubian was put under more pressure in Belgium. Played out in hot conditions, the qualifying section was held in the middle of the market square on a rock-filled man-made hazard. He was the third fastest in Qualifying One behind Christophe Bruand and Kenichi Kuroyama as he parted with one mark. When it all mattered in Qualifying Two to decide the start positions for the trial the following day it was once again Kuroyama who took the Jitsie ‘Hot Seat’ for the quickest time, but Gubian was just two seconds down to follow the Japanese rider home. FASTEST: 1: Kenichi Kuroyama (Yamaha-JPN) 36.85; 2: Loris Gubian (Gas Gas-FRA) 38.70; 3: Christophe Bruand (Electric Motion-FRA) 43.86; 4: Takumi Narita (Electric Motion-JPN) 50.32; 5: Joan Cordon (Mecatecno-ESP) 55.82 + 3; 6: David Oliver Blasco (On Racing TrialE-ESP) 5; 7: Jerome Delair (Electric Motion-FRA) 5; 8: Bastien Hieyte (Electric Motion-FRA) 5.
It was always going to be a tense battle of nerves between the two world class riders Kenichi Kuroyama and Loris Gubian. Could the Japanese come to Europe and walk away with the world championship from under the nose of Gas Gas? As early as the second hazard it looked like Kuroyama was in trouble with a ‘Feet-Up’ five mark penalty as Gubian used his vast experience to part with just four single marks around the 15 hazards. Big rocks and steep climbs were put in front of the electric machines but the two very talented riders continued to amaze the watching crowds with the ‘silent’ machines, looking very impressive as they were head and shoulders above the rest of the entry. Kuroyama parted with just two more to leave the opening lap scores at four and seven in favour of the French rider.
On the second lap it was the turn of Gubian to have a ‘Feet-Up’ five for stopping on the very first hazard. Would he crack under the pressure? As he watched Kuroyama fail the second hazard on the second lap he knew that all he had to do was ride conservatively and the title was his. They both parted with a single mark on the sixth hazard and, despite the pressure they were both feeling, they completed the lap losing no more and the title was going to Gas Gas and Gubian by three marks. With a relatively small entry and only two rounds in 2018 let’s hope that the other manufacturers take note and that in 2019 we will see more rounds and more manufacturers involved. RESULTS: 1: Loris Gubian (Gas Gas-FRA) 10; 2: Kenichi Kuroyama (Yamaha-JPN) 13; 3: Joan Cordon (Mecatecno-ESP) 28; 4: Christophe Bruand (Electric Motion-FRA) 37; 5: Takumi Narita (Electric Motion-JPN) 39; 6: David Oliver Blasco (On Racing TrialE-ESP) 82; 7: Bastien Hieyte (Electric Motion-FRA) 83; 8: Jerome Delair (Electric Motion-FRA) 98. 2018 TRIALE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1: Loris Gubian (Gas Gas-FRA) 37; 2: Kenichi Kuroyama (Yamaha-JPN) 37; 3: Christophe Bruand (Electric Motion-FRA) 28; 4: Joan Cordon (Mecatecno-ESP) 24; 5: Bastien Hieyte (Electric Motion-FRA) 22; 6: David Oliver Blasco (On Racing TrialE-ESP) 20; 7: Jerome Delair (Electric Motion-FRA) 19; 8: Takumi Narita (Electric Motion-JPN) 11.
Looking like a new era Mecatecno using the colour scheme from the eighties ‘Dragonfly’ model, Spain’s Joan Cordon made the podium in Belgium.
TrialE Top Three: Kenichi Kuroyama, Loris Gubian and Christophe Bruand
Christophe Bruand finished third in the two-round championship competition and headed home the other Electric Motion machines ridden by Bastian Hieyte, Jerome Delair and Japan’s Takumi Narita who struggled with an old back injury he carries from his world championship days.