After a month’s break the 2013 FIM X-Trial World Championship will burst back into life this coming Sunday as the beautiful city of Barcelona welcomes the second round of the current series. The imposing Palau Sant Jordi stadium that sits high on the hill overlooking the port will provide the perfect setting for the eight permanent riders to resume their intense battle to capture this season’s coveted title. Reigning FIM X-Trial World Champion Toni Bou - Repsol Montesa will once again lead the charge with the twenty-six year old having taken first blood at the opening encounter held in Sheffield early in the new year.
Bou’s win in Great Britain was a hard fought affair and was only decided in the last section of the competition, as he endured an evening long tussle with his elder compatriot Albert Cabestany - Sherco. Cabestany was in exquisite form in Sheffield with the now thirty-two year old producing some of his best riding of his long career. Such was the level of the battle between Bou and Cabestany on that occasion, they pulled well clear of the field and left the remaining riders to scrap it out for the final podium place.
Eventually it would be Jeroni Fajardo - Beta who would claim his first rostrum finish of the campaign as he created his own clear advantage over British rider James Dabill - Beta who in truth failed to fully shine in front of his home fans during his wild card appearance. With Dabill not part of the proceedings in Barcelona, Fajardo will have to look to up his game if he is to challenge the higher order.
One man who will be desperate to make amends for his disastrous showing in Sheffield will be Adam Raga - Gas Gas who failed to even make it through the qualification process at the first round. Raga only missed the cut by a single mark, but this was enough to demote him to a lowly seventh spot and put a big dent in his title challenge before the series has even got underway proper. Adam will hope that Barcelona will provide the stage to relight his campaign and to put him back amongst the front-runners.
In contrast France’s Alexandre Ferrer - Sherco made a dream debut as a permanent rider in the FIM X-Trial World Championship when he claimed fifth place first time out. The twenty-two year old who earned his place in this year’s series by winning the 2012 FIM Junior Trial World Championship just missed out on progressing to the four man final in Sheffield as he lost out to Dabill in a tiebreak scenario. Unfortunately for the young French rider his night came to an end in the semi-final due to Dabill having recorded a better placing during qualification. Ferrer will be looking to repeat this kind of form in Spain to prove he can cut it at this level despite his inexperience.
Japan’s Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa placed sixth last time out and will be wanting to bounce back in Barcelona, which is now a home round for both him and his Montesa team. Last season Fujinami earned no less than three podium spots and a trio of fourth positions during the seven round series, and is therefore more than capable of being back at the sharp end of the action this coming Sunday. Jack Challoner – Beta and Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas will also both need to turn their fortunes around having filled the bottom two places respectively in Sheffield.