There was to be no surprises at the first ever FIM X-Trial des Nations held in Nice, France with the Spanish duo of Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa and Albert Cabestany – Sherco romping to a convincing victory in front of a packed stadium. Whilst the host nation threatened to cause an upset during the early part of the evening the French team consisting of Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco and Loris Gubian – Gas Gas eventually had to settle for the final podium place. In the end second spot went to the popular Japanese pairing of Tomoyuki Ogawa – Beta and Takahisa Fujinami - Repsol Montesa. Great Britain finished a disappointing fourth leaving the rookies of the competition, Norway in fifth.
A new and unique format was utilised for the FIM X-Trial des Nations. The event was basically split into two laps, with one of the two riders from each team completing one lap each. The lap consisted of six observed sections that had to be ridden within the seven-minute time limit, with riders being penalised an additional one mark for each time they rested on their sump-guard. Following this a speed section, where the riders had to complete a specially devised route against the clock and where observation marks were not a factor, replaced the normal dual lane race. The fastest rider was rewarded with zero marks, the second fastest with one mark and so on.
Cabestany got the action under way and rode with the added pressure of being the first rider out on a course that was relatively easy, but would also show that it would punish any slight mistake. Albert was typically composed and set the tone for the Trial losing only a single mark for momentarily touching his sump-guard in the third hazard. Great Britain’s chance of challenging for a top spot was over before it began as James Dabill – Beta crashed out on the fifth section doing damage to himself and his machine. He was to take no further part in the event.
Ferrer had the hopes of France resting on his young shoulders as he took to the stage and he responded brilliantly each time the capacity crowd roared and he was to be the only rider to go clean on the first lap. Ib Andersen - Gas Gas from Norway put up a brave performance, and did well to remain uninjured as he suffered a string of spectacular crashes.
Ogawa produced a solid showing dropping just six marks including a five on the final waterfall section. Cabestany maintained the Spanish momentum as he then went quickest in the speed section, a feat that was matched by Bou when it came to his turn to show his true pace. Fujinami cemented Japan’s podium spot with a single dab lap as he got the second half of the Trial underway. However which podium place Japan would take was not clear as Gubian took centre stage for France. Unfortunately the crowd’s excitement was not met, as Loris failed to meet their expectations of sealing the runners up spot when he fived the first and last sections of his lap. It almost got even worse for the French fans as Michael Brown – Gas Gas delivered a ride that looked like it might even rob the home nation of third position. However as Brown failed the waterfall, the audience breathed a deep sigh of relief, as it became clear that the bronze medal belonged to France.
Bou rounded out the evening with an incredible and public pleasing demonstration to take the win for Spain, some seven marks clear of Japan, who finished eight marks ahead of France in what was an exciting and entertaining first ever FIM X-Trial des Nations.
1. Spain (Bou/Cabestany) - 2
2. Japan (Fujinami/Ogawa) - 9
3. France (Ferrer/Gubian) - 17
4. Britain (Brown/Dabill) - 22
5. Norway (Andersen/Pedersen) - 45
For photos from this event, click here