As has become traditional over the last two decades or so the famous city of Sheffield, Great Britain will open the new edition of the FIM X-Trial World Championship as the seven fixed riders plus one wildcard entrant converge inside the ice rink floored arena. Britain is regarded by many as the spiritual home of the more traditional discipline of Trial, so it is quite fitting that this northern city continues to have the honour of marking the start of the more recent indoor series that originates from its outdoor older brother.
The 2016 FIM X-Trial World Championship will be contested over four rounds in four different countries from early January through to late March. After the initial encounter this coming weekend in Sheffield the fixed riders will then move on to warmer climes with the second round set to play out in the Spanish city of Barcelona. Like Sheffield, Barcelona is a long established stop on the winter tour and has become one of the most important over recent years. Not only does the ex Olympic facility boast the largest seating capacity of any of the arenas, it is now also the home event for the main protagonists with the Spanish riders having dominated the series over the last decade and a half, which adds extra weight and pressure to the occasion.
Following the visit to Catalonia in early February the riders and teams will then be able to enjoy a short break ahead of the third counting event in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Last year marked the first time that this Austrian city had hosted a round of the series, and also a welcome return to a country that last played a part in the then FIM Indoor Trial World Championship back in 2003. Wiener Neustadt’s debut proved to be an important occasion and provided the opportunity for Toni Bou – Repsol Honda to wrap up a ninth successive FIM X-Trial World Championship with one round still remaining.
The French city of Marseille will bring to a close the 2016 series just six days after the riders have battled it out in Austria. This year marks the nineteenth edition of the FIM Indoor / X-Trial World Championship since it was promoted from World Cup status in 1998. Since that historic season Marseille has featured no less than thirteen previous times in the calendar and thus is now a familiar venue for the more established riders who remain a part of the series. Prior to being beaten by Adam Raga in Pau, France last season, the French port was the scene of Bou’s last previous defeat back in 2010 so the compact and steep sided arena is no stranger to staging historic moments, and might just witness another one as it hosts this year’s finale come the end of March.
This season’s seven fixed riders are as follows having been selected using the stated criteria: Toni Bou – Repsol Honda - 2015 FIM X-Trial World Champion; Adam Raga – TRS - 2nd 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship; Albert Cabestany – Sherco - 3rd 2015 FIM X-Trial World Championship; Jeroni Fajardo – Vertigo - next in the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship classification (having not already been selected by any previous criteria); Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Honda – next in the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship classification (having not already been selected by any previous criteria); Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco - next in the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship classification from a new nationality not already represented (having not already been selected by any previous criteria) and Eddie Karlsson - Montesa - next in the 2015 FIM Trial World Championship classification from a new nationality and under 25 years old (25/12/1994) not already represented (having not already been selected by any previous criteria).
Whilst no longer a fixed rider himself James Dabill – Vertigo will hopefully give the home fans something to cheer about as he returns to Sheffield, this time as the lone wildcard entrant to round out the line up for the opening round of the 2016 FIM X-Trial World Championship this coming Saturday.