Five nations will fight it out in Nice, France this coming Friday evening as the 2015 FIM X-Trial des Nations is contested inside the Palais Nikaia on the outskirts of the sea fronted city.
Spain the current trophy holders, since the event was last held at the same venue back in 2012, will come up against two rider teams from Japan, France, Great Britain and Italy. Four out of the five countries were present at the last edition of this competition three years ago, with the Italians being the exception having now replaced Norway on the entry list.
Like in 2012, reigning champions Spain start as the clear favourites. Again the pairing of Toni Bou – Repsol Honda and Albert Cabestany – Sherco will represent Spain and are sure to be a formidable duo. Bou recently clinched his ninth successive FIM Indoor / X-Trial World Championship, whilst Cabestany finished third in the overall rankings during a campaign that saw the veteran challenger win the last event of the season. Bou won four out of the five remaining rounds in the series. Last time the FIM X-Trial des Nations was held Japan ended the night as worthy runners-up, finishing just seven marks behind the mighty Spain after two laps. Again it will be the dynamic duo of Tomoyuki Owaga – Honda and Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda who will fly the flag for the land of the rising sun.
Fujinami has only ridden a couple of non-championship indoor events since returning from his long term knee injury, but is sure to want to give it all as he represents his proud nation alongside his very able compatriot. Despite Takahisa’s lack of bike time, Japan remain real podium hopefuls. France rounded out the rostrum three years back, and took great pride in demoting Great Britain to fourth place on the night. The French team will field the unchanged team of Loris Gubian – Gas Gas and Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco, as this exciting pair of young riders look to give the home fans plenty to cheer about come Friday evening.
Ferrer will have definitely benefited from a full season as a fixed rider in the 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship where he finished the series in an excellent fifth spot overall. Gubian will have also gained some valuable experience having twice appeared as a wild card entrant in the same championship. Great Britain will be eager to avenge their French counterparts this time out and to make sure that it is them that is part of the podium celebrations come the close of play this coming Friday. In the fourth unchanged line up taking part in this unique inter countries competition, reigning British champion James Dabill – Vertigo and his long time national title rival and friend, Michael Brown – Gas Gas will be looking to pin the famous Union Jack flag high on the leader board. After a torrid 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship aboard the new Spanish machine, Dabill restored his confidence with recent back-to-back wins on home soil, as Brown twice finished runner-up to the Vertigo rider at the opening two rounds of this year’s British series. Finally the Italian pairing of Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas and Ginaluca Tournour – Gas Gas complete the five country line up for the 2015 edition of this event.
Not present when the competition was last hosted back in 2012, team Italy will be keen to make their presence felt on this occasion. All in all, the main ingredients are again in place for what promises to be an enthralling evening of country versus country competition in the atmospheric setting of the Palais Nikaia in the southern French city.