2013 X-Trial World Championship

fuji sheffield preview in storyThis Saturday 5th January will see the 2013 FIM X-Trial World Championship get underway, with the opening round of the latest series set to take place in Sheffield, Great Britain. Missing from the calendar for the past two seasons, the city of Steel as it is affectionately known makes a welcome return to the tour and is bound to offer a suitable initial test for the eight permanent riders plus two wild card entries if the history of this event is anything to go by. An almost capacity crowd is guaranteed to create a noisy backdrop as reigning FIM X-Trial World Champion Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa starts his defence and goes in search of a record extending seventh successive indoor title.

Bou is one of the eight selected stars on the permanent list who have automatically qualified for the series as a result of their 2012 rankings. Once again it would appear that Bou’s main rivals this season will be his Spanish compatriots, as Albert Cabestany – Sherco heads up the chasing pack having finished as runner up to Bou during the 2012 campaign, a position he has held since 2009. Adam Raga – Gas Gas last got the better of the Sherco factory rider indoors back in 2008, with inconsistency having plagued his championship assault ever since.


Twenty-seven year Jeroni Fajardo – Beta who has just recently signed for the Italian factory for another year just could be the man to emerge as Bou’s nearest challenger after having made good progress during the latter part of the 2012 season. Fourth in last year’s final standings Fajardo will now be eager to break into the top three and will look to Sheffield to set down his first marker against a quality field. Veteran campaigner Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Montesa will turn thirty-three years old not long after he visits Great Britain, but is still a force to be reckoned with after having made it onto the podium in three of the seven rounds last season.

raga sheffield preview in storyBritain’s Jack Challoner – Beta will be looking to make the most of his opening home advantage as he returns to the series as a permanent rider after having failed to gain qualification in 2012. Challoner who will celebrate his twenty-second birthday tomorrow, showed his potential on the artificial hazards when he placed sixth in the general standing in 2011 during his rookie X-Trial season. Matteo Grattarola – Gas Gas has the hopes of a nation on his relatively young shoulders, with him being the lone Italian representative in this year’s series. Although Matteo has made wild card appearances in the past, this is his first real opportunity to make his impact against the more established stars. Mixing experience with youth, Challoner and Grattarola were both selected as being the best riders under twenty-five years old, whilst the final fixed place went to a rider who has already lifted one title, winner of the 2012 FIM Junior Trial World Cup – Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco from France, who again is a sole contender for his country. Ferrer has already displayed his pedigree by being the only wild card rider to make it through the qualification process last season. His eventual sixth place in Paris did not do his performance real justice, but certainly gave his rivals something to think about as he lines up against them as a permanent contender this time around.


Wild card and home riders James Dabill – Beta and Michael Brown – Gas Gas will complete the Sheffield line up, for what promises to be an enthralling opening encounter.