THE BOU SHOW
It was a return to the Senhora dos Verdes Park venue, with its rugged skyline dominated by mountains and rocks, for the second year in succession. The heat was intense and so was the action, as this year the organisers had a new group of rivers hazards making it an excellent venue for the world championship occasion. Toni Bou arrived very confident, knowing that a victory here would give him an even better points advantage over his rivals.
Once the early morning mist had burned away the event’s venue was opened up to the sun, which led to a very difficult opening lap for the defending champion. He parted with marks in the first three hazards before taking a very welcome clean on section four. The man on form on the first lap was the seasoned world championship contender and the team-mate of Bou, Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami on the second Repsol Honda. He was the early leader but was to suffer four time penalties in his quest to be the best in the sections, which would eventually deny him third position and the chance to make the podium.
As we have witnessed so many times before, when under pressure Toni Bou performs at his very best and he coaxed the four-stroke Cota 4RT through the 15 hazards for a mere six marks on the second lap, made up of a single mark and a five-mark penalty for a stop in the tough section 12. The fight behind him was all about who would make the podium and his seasoned rival Adam Raga on the TRRS was the one to once again push Bou, finishing just seven marks behind him. The next three riders all lost 15 marks on the second lap but it was the lack of any time penalties that secured second for Raga and third for Jeroni Fajardo. The championship action would continue seven days later in France.
RESULTS: 1: Toni Bou (Repsol Honda-ESP) 25; 2: Adam Raga (TRRS-ESP) 32; 3: Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas-ESP) 36; 4: Jorge Casales (Vertigo-ESP) 39; 5: Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda-JPN) 40; 6: James Dabill (Beta-GBR) 45; 7: Jaime Busto (Vertigo-ESP) 55; 8: Miquel Gelabert (Sherco-ESP) 58; 9: Benoit Bincaz (Beta-FRA) 68; 10: Arnau Farre (Jotagas-ESP) 74; 11: Jack Price (Gas Gas-GBR) 81; 12: Franz Kadlec (TRRS-DEU) 84; 13: Dan Peace (ShercoGBR) 104.
A return to the small winter ski resort town of Auron, France, welcomed the riders after the success of the event in 2018. On a small course of approximately four kilometres with a mixture of hazards including rocks, dry river beds and steep climbs the machines would have to cope with the high altitude, which at times reaches the 1,700 metre mark. Bou knew a victory here would seal the 2019 world title.
The starting order is decided by a ballot and Toni Bou went out in the middle of the field to record a time which no one could better; on the second attempt he laid down the gauntlet sending out a clear message to his rivals: he wanted to win.
The hot weather in the area continued and the action was as close as ever on the opening lap of the 15 hazards to be ridden twice. In the first half of the opening lap it was the young Jaime Busto who was showing the form that we had waited for all season, and once again ‘Fujigas’ was in the mix putting the pressure on Bou. The problem for the other riders is that when Bou is under pressure he performs, every time. Bou had a stop in section ten as Busto mastered it, but then he had two stops in sections 12 and 14 to spoil his score. It was Toni Bou who held a fivemark advantage as the lap closed with him parting with one time penalty.
As he has demonstrated so many times before, once he gets into a good riding rhythm nobody can match him. Bou simply blew the opposition away on the second lap parting with just a single mark on section 13 to secure yet another world title, much to his delight.
RESULTS: 1: Toni Bou (Repsol Honda-ESP) 9: 2: Jaime Busto (Vertigo-ESP) 23; 3: Adam Raga (TRRS-ESP) 25; 4: Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas-ESP) 30; 5: Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda-JPN) 36; 6: Jorge Casales (Vertigo-ESP) 42; 7: Miquel Gelabert (Sherco-ESP) 45; 8: James Dabill (Beta-GBR) 54; 9: Benoit Bincaz (Beta-FRA) 57; 10: Franz Kadlec (TRRS-DEU) 71; 11: Jack Price (Gas GasGBR) 75; 12: Arnau Farre (Jotagas-ESP) 97; 13: Andrea Riva (TRRS-ITA) 110; 14: Dan Peace (Sherco-GBR) 137.
Adam Raga (TRRS-ESP): With one hand on the runner-up spot in the championship you always have to take your hat off to Adam, the will to win never goes away. Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas-ESP): It’s been a tough year for the Gas Gas number one rider, but round after round he has maintained the push for the podium positions.
Jorge Casales (Vertigo-ESP): If he can move past the mental barrier of self-belief we will see the full potential of this exciting rider. Expect some better results in the second half of the season if the confidence grows. James Dabill (Beta-GBR): Still head and shoulders above the other English riders, ‘Dibsta’ will be keeping his eyes on sixth position and his closet rival Casales as the season reaches its conclusion. Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda-JPN): Yes ‘Mr Cool’ himself, ‘Fujigas’ is like the vintage wine that just gets better. The fight for the top three in the championship continues, as it will until he has ridden the final section in Spain. Jaime Busto (Vertigo-ESP): Will he close the season with a win? On home soil in Spain for the final round maybe it will be his day; we will see!