Trial Magazine

ALBERT CABESTANY

- Words: John Hulme with Albert Cabestany • Pictures: Trials Media and GASGAS

Extending your working life after a long and successful career path comes to a close can be especially difficult. In our chosen sport of motorcycle trials, there are not too many options to follow – that is, unless you feel you have more to give to the sport.

After closing the door on his TrialGP ambitions, Spain’s Albert Cabestany had moved to the Gas Gas electric trials machine in 2019 to take the first of two FIM TrialE World Championsh­ip titles. Under new ownership and rebranded as GASGAS, he repeated this feat in 2020 during a challengin­g COVID-19 year. With so much downtime, he started to talk to GASGAS about becoming the new trials team manager. He carried so much respect amongst the other riders that he and GASGAS began to talk about the option for the 2021 season. In a suitable outcome for both parties, news was released that he would indeed take on a new role for the new company. Now based in Austria, under the wing of the successful KTM AG group encompassi­ng the KTM and Husqvarna brands, it was time to speak to the new GASGAS trials team manager.

Congratula­tions on your new job!

Thank you very much, John. The truth is that it’s a fantastic opportunit­y for me and, for sure, the desired job for any profession­al rider after a successful career. After two years of transition, when I worked on the GASGAS TrialE model, I started to work side-by-side with the Research and Developmen­t team. The TrialE class was not so demanding from my side, apart from practising. Working together was easy and, having the same vision to look at the future of our sport, I came to the attention of the director Fabian Simmer and the people from KTM. They thought I was the right person to lead the GASGAS factory team as well as being actively involved with the developmen­t of future machines.

Are you involved with the electric side of GASGAS?

Of course, I love the electric motorcycle­s, and I am looking forward to what the future will bring to us and our sport. 2019 was just a start to the E models, and I had only a onemonth contract with GASGAS. In contrast, at the end of 2019, KTM arrived to the party. I had the chance to sign with them for a whole year to follow the electric project closely. As the Research and Developmen­t advisor for the brand, I will certainly continue to be involved in its evolution. I am really excited and motivated to work in the evolution of electric motorcycle­s.

Looking back, why did you decide to leave TrialGP?

I was in a happy place riding in motorcycle trials in 2018, visiting the podium twice in the TrialGP class and, on other occasions, coming very close to it — all achieved with the worst budget I had had for the last 15 years. I had no minder, and just one day a week, I had the chance to use Joan Pons, who also came to the events with me. I was lucky that my father was retired and could help me, but basically, I was practising 95% of the time at Tarragona, where I have some training areas. Nothing amazing and not really good enough, when you are preparing to attack the podium spots at the World Championsh­ip. That was a one-year deal with Beta, and I was happy to ride for them. Both sides were happy to renew my contract, but I wanted to do it properly. I really felt I had everything I needed to work in conditions that would give me what I thought I could achieve. In the end, it did not happen, so instead of continuing for one more year for the sake of just riding, I thought it was the right time to stop. I always wanted to remember my career and finish with a good performanc­e, which I did by finishing my last TrialGP event on the podium; something that not many riders can say.

What was your career highlight in TrialGP?

Wow, it’s difficult to say. I have had so many nice memories. After a challengin­g year with an injury just before the world championsh­ip in 2000, I won my first victory in TrialGP. 2002 was a fantastic year, becoming the Indoor

FIM Trial World Champion and beating the unbeatable Dougie Lampkin in 12 rounds. It was a tremendous year, winning everything except the FIM World Trials Championsh­ip where I finished third. Perhaps it was when I moved to Sherco and led the World Trials Championsh­ip, or when I finished second

beating Adam Raga in the Indoor after so many years with Toni Bou just in front of me. We even had some good results with the four-stroke Sherco! I have really enjoyed my career, and the memories would make a great book.

How will the FIM Trial World Championsh­ip survive COVID-19?

We should all thank the FIM and all the organisers for the incredible effort they put into 2020 to make it possible; it really has been the strangest time in my whole career. At the moment the most prominent problem looks to be with the FIM X-Trial World Championsh­ip — we need paying crowds to make it financiall­y possible. With the vaccine being rolled out is a great thing to see. So, we will cross the fingers and hope that this could be the solution to part of our sport’s problems as well as for many people around the world.

Can Jorge Casales raise his riding level to challenge Bou and Raga?

If you look at the end of the 2020 season, I think he really can do it. I joined him for the fifth and sixth rounds of the FIM TrialGP held in Andorra; he achieved his first podiums of the year and the second one in his whole career. He kept the momentum in Italy, where he finished second and third once again. So, if you look at the numbers, and with winter in front to train, I think he can be a contender for the runner-up spot on the podium and put the pressure on Toni Bou. It’s clear he’s not the only one with the opportunit­y. All the contenders are so strong, but it will be easy to finish outside the podium spot even when you are having a good day. With a strong structure, we will try to build the best team around him and be more profession­al than ever before.

We will also help Miquel Gelabert, who twice this year has been really close to the podium. I think we have two riders who are capable of giving the team strong results in 2021.

Will we see a new two-stroke trials model from GASGAS in 2021?

If I tell you this, I should kill you. [Albert looking at me, then laughed!] For 2021 we will continue using the GASGAS TXT GP which is, for sure, an amazing machine and one very capable of fighting for the best places in every event. Everybody who tests it loves it.

I tested it in 2019 when I joined the team for the TrialE project. I could do things that I could never do before with my factory machines — and I was using a very standard model of the GASGAS. It performed so well and so strong in all areas, including the engine and suspension; it was very, very good. That made me wonder what I could have achieved in my career in TrialGP if I had been on the GASGAS!

Why has Toni Bou been so successful?

What could I say about Toni Bou that you haven’t already said? For me, there are three main reasons, but not the only ones that make Toni be Toni. He really loves trials, over any other thing in the world. He rides every day if he can, there’s nothing else. Also, he loves to win! He hungers for victory and probably more so now after 28 FIM Trial World Championsh­ip titles. And the third one, the fact that he is physically and mentally so strong. Then we could talk about many other things that complement him as a rider like he is technicall­y superb, and you have the complete package as a profession­al athlete.

Where will GASGAS be in two years?

I don’t know. We will see. Seeing it from the inside and with the way they work, the plans they have for trials, I think they could be leading the sport. GASGAS will certainly push hard to achieve this goal. If you agree, we could meet in two years, and we revisit the conversati­on then — [A huge grin from Albert makes me realise that they really mean business].

What are your thoughts on the future for trials?

Well, this is an open question. We could talk about the motorcycle­s, the sport, or how the amateur riders will approach the sport. I think we should make changes at the world championsh­ip. It should be easier to observe and more interestin­g. We need a world championsh­ip where Toni wins and you see 70 riders in the classifica­tions instead of

12. I have an idea of how to achieve this. Maybe I will try it one day if I can develop a competitio­n at home to test. Also, the way we present the machines to the customer – I think we can improve this and make the sport grow. For example, with the sport of Extreme Enduro being so popular, top riders come from Trials. That means something. The evolution of electric motorcycle­s could also determine the future of our sport.

If you had not been a trials rider, what career would you have chosen?

Let me think. If it was in the sports world as an athlete and I could not be a motorcycle trials rider, I would have liked to be a tennis player. I love this sport because it’s so complete. It’s very individual, which is essential for me, technical, physically and mentally demanding. I follow tennis, and I am very passionate about it.

Away from sport and doing the nine-to-five job, I would love to be working in something creative — engineerin­g or electronic­s, making apps or programmin­g. I really like to evolve and create things, solving problems, etc.

I do feel very fortunate. At the moment, it looks like I could spend my life doing what I really love — motorcycle trials — first as a profession­al rider and now with an amazing project with probably the best factory in the world!

 ??  ?? Albert Cabestany 2019–2020 FIM TrialE World Champion.
Albert Cabestany 2019–2020 FIM TrialE World Champion.
 ??  ?? GASGAS in the 2020 FIM Trial World Championsh­ip: even in the first year they made an impact.
GASGAS in the 2020 FIM Trial World Championsh­ip: even in the first year they made an impact.
 ??  ?? Team – GASGAS 2020 FIM TrialE World Champions.
Helping Jorge Casales in Andorra.
Jorge Casales achieved his first podiums of the year, and the second one in his whole career, in Andorra.
Getting the 2020 title fight back on track in Italy on day one.
Thinking of the 2020 FIM TrialE World Championsh­ip in Italy.
Team – GASGAS 2020 FIM TrialE World Champions. Helping Jorge Casales in Andorra. Jorge Casales achieved his first podiums of the year, and the second one in his whole career, in Andorra. Getting the 2020 title fight back on track in Italy on day one. Thinking of the 2020 FIM TrialE World Championsh­ip in Italy.
 ??  ?? Jorge Casales (GASGAS-ESP).
Albert enjoys that ‘winning’ moment in Italy.
Winner.
Jorge Casales (GASGAS-ESP). Albert enjoys that ‘winning’ moment in Italy. Winner.
 ??  ?? Jorge kept the momentum in Italy, where he finished 2nd and 3rd once again.
Jorge Casales: “With a strong structure, we will try to build the best team around him and more profession­al than ever before.”
Jorge kept the momentum in Italy, where he finished 2nd and 3rd once again. Jorge Casales: “With a strong structure, we will try to build the best team around him and more profession­al than ever before.”
 ??  ?? 14: Jorge Casales: I think we have a rider who is very capable of giving the team strong results in 2021.
14: Jorge Casales: I think we have a rider who is very capable of giving the team strong results in 2021.
 ??  ?? GASGAS can be a contender for the runner-up positions on the podium and to put the pressure on Toni Bou.
GASGAS can be a contender for the runner-up positions on the podium and to put the pressure on Toni Bou.

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