Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa will arrive in Sheffield this coming Saturday 5th January as the clear favourite to clinch an incredible seventh successive FIM Indoor / X-Trial World Championship, as the 2013 edition of the series kicks off in the familiar surroundings of the imposing arena that sits on the outskirts of the famous city. Bou was unbeaten during the 2011 campaign, with the now twenty-six year old having made it seven wins from seven starts to confirm his sheer supremacy. Toni will also have fond memories of the British venue, as he was winner here, when the Sheffield last hosted a championship event back in 2010, again the opening round of the series.
Back in 2010 Albert Cabestany – Shero was Bou’s closest challenger, as was the case throughout most of last season, with the Sherco rider having narrowly missed out on bringing Toni’s dominant run to an end at the fifth round in Palma, Majorca. The difference on that night was a mere two marks, and Albert will know that he will again have to keep Bou in reach at all times as the Spanish pairing battling it over the usually tough Sheffield sections if he is to inflict an early defeat on his compatriot.
Adam Raga – Gas Gas will hope that the start of a new season will rid him of the inconsistency that limited his true talent throughout 2012, moments of absolute brilliance were too often quickly followed by poor and unforced errors. On his day Raga still represents a real threat to Bou and has the technique and style to produce a shock result if he makes a strong initial showing and then builds on the confidence that comes with that. Raga is popular amongst the British fans and will have the now retired King of Sheffield Dougie Lampkin in his corner as the former FIM World Champion sits out his home event for the first time in the history of this long running competition.
Jeroni Fajardo – Beta and Takahisa Fujinmai – Repsol Montesa could be the jokers in the pack and can never be ruled out of being amongst the podium finishers and from even pushing for a win if they find their form earlier enough in the evening. Fujigas’ wild riding style is always greeted with loud applause, and is sure to come out in full attack mode after the winter break, which is sure to delivered guaranteed entertainment in its own right. Fajardo’s approach is slightly more reserved, but nevertheless still highly effective on occasions, as he proved when he finished as runner up to Bou at the last round in Paris last Spring.
Despite having taken sixth and ninth places respectively in the 2012 FIM Trial World Championship, the British duo of James Dabill – Beta and Michael Brown – Gas Gas both failed to qualify for a permanent place in the 2013 FIM X-Trial World Championship and will arrive at their home round as wild card entrants with a real point to prove. The two of them have the ability to out place their younger fixed rivals in the form of Jack Challoner – Beta, Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas and Alexandre Ferrer Sherco and will look to the huge home crowd for some vocal support. Sheffield has been the scene of some epic battles in the past, and this Saturday the stage will be set for another historic fight amongst the World best Trial riders.