The Italian Grand Prix this weekend will mark the start of the second half of the 2013 FIM Trial World Championship, with the series currently enjoying one of its closest title races since it was first conceived back in 1975. This will be the thirty-sixth time that Italy has hosted a round of the championship, and thus confirming its long association with the sport of Trial at the highest level. Current championship leader Toni Bou – Repsol Montesa has previously won the Italian GP on four previous occasions and will be hoping to increase his winning tally this coming Sunday as he looks to extend his advantage over his arch rival Adam Raga – Gas Gas.
Although Raga has visited the podium on no less than nine occasions in the past when the series has stopped off in Italy, he has only twice been victorious on Italian soil. Having surrendered the championship lead to Bou at the last round in Spain, Raga will be very eager to regain the top spot before Bou has the chance to open a gap that maybe difficult to close over the remaining four counting events. With Bou and Raga now well clear of the pack, the fight for third place in the general standings is the next battle of consequence.
Takahisa Fujinami – Repsol Montesa is currently hanging on to this spot, but has Albert Cabestany – Sherco and Jeroni Fajardo – Beta for close company, as only five points separates these three riders. Fujinami has only made it on to the rostrum twice this year, one of those visits was when he won the second day in Japan. He will need to regain that kind of form if he is to keep Cabestany at bay who in contrast is currently enjoying a run of finishes on the box. Fajardo, along with his teammate James Dabill – Beta will both be looking for better things in Italy having placed sixth and tenth respectively last time out in Spain. They will also be just two riders who will be aware of Matteo Grattarola’s – Gas Gas current form as he heads to his home GP, and who could just do further damage in and amongst the more expected and established front runners.
As the season to date has shown it is never easy to predict what might happen in the Junior class. After a double win in Andorra, Jorge Casales – Gas Gas was brought back down to earth with a bump as he slumped to a disappointing fifth spot at his home GP. Thankfully for Casales his main championship rival Jack Sheppard – Beta was equally poor in Spain with his sixth position allowing Jorge to further extend his lead at the top of the intermediate rankings. Thanks to his first victory of the year, Pol Tarres – Sherco has ridden himself back into title contention, and if he can repeat his success in Italy this Sunday he will overcome current third placed Francesc Moret – Gas Gas and move within touching distance of the leading duo as the campaign moves into its decisive phase.
France’s latest Trial star, Quentin Carles de Caudemberg – Beta is making a name for himself as he sits well clear at the top of the Youth class championship standings. His domination of the last three counting days has seen Carles de Caudemberg stretch his advantage to twenty-eight points and puts himself in a position to wrap up the title before the series comes to a close in his home nation in early September. Britain’s Bradley Cox – Beta remains the French rider’s closet challenger, but has not yet managed to find the form that saw him start the season as the clear favourite in this young division where he finished as runner-up last year. Italy’s Gabriele Giarba – Beta has the chance to over take Cox in the title race, if he can out perform him on his home turf this Sunday, a point his home fans are sure to be aware off as they look to support their young hopeful in typically Italian noisy fashion.