Defending champion Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) starts as a firm favourite for victory at this weekend’s TrialGP Portugal – round five of the 2019 FIM Trial World Championship – at Gouveia on the edge of the beautiful Serra da Estrela Natural Park in the north of the country.
The title fight returns to the venue following last year’s successful event and huge boulders will be on the menu for the best Trial riders in the world.
Bou, who is in pole position to take his 13th consecutive TrialGP title, is unbeaten this season over four rounds and five days of competition and has amassed a perfect 100 points. In fact, the sublime Spaniard hasn’t lost since day two in Japan in 2018 and last time out at TrialGP Belgium he extended his phenomenal win-streak to 10.
“In the Trials still remaining it will be important not to make mistakes and battle hard to win race by race,” he said. “I think we are very clear about the work involved – keep up the good dynamics that we have had so far this year. Our goal is to get wins and the more we get the better.”
Bou’s main rival is his fellow countryman Adam Raga (TRRS) who currently sits in second in the championship standings on 81 points.
The two-time champion has been incredibly consistent this year and has yet to finish off the podium but he was beaten into third in Belgium by Jeroni Fajardo (Gas Gas) who, following two below-par performances at TrialGP Japan, is playing catch-up on 67 points.
All-action fan-favourite Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Honda) has been on the podium twice this year after solid performances in his native Japan and is just a point behind Fajardo before a big gap back to Jaime Busto (Vertigo) who so far this season has yet to show Trial fans what he’s truly capable of.
The battle for supremacy in the TrialGP Women class resumes this weekend with Emma Bristow (Sherco) leading the way following her double win at TrialGP Japan in early June. The British rider is aiming for her sixth straight crown and she dominated at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to comfortably top both days.
Sitting second in the championship chase after going 4-2 in Japan, Spain’s Berta Abellan (Vertigo) is tied on points with her compatriot Sandra Gomez (TRRS) who went 2-4. Also from Spain, Neus Murcia (Gas Gas) lies fourth just ahead of Norway’s Ingveig Hakonsen (TRRS) and with the top five riders all having finished on the podium at least once this season it’s an extremely competitive class.
Defending Trial2 champion Matteo Grattarola (Honda) from Italy has been on the podium at every round so far this year and with three wins to his name has opened up a clear lead at the top of the table from Spain’s Gabriel Marcelli (Montesa).
Britain’s Toby Martyn (Beta) narrowly missed out on the 2018 title and has shown flashes of brilliance this year but he desperately needs to start winning if he’s going to improve on his current third place in the championship and challenge Grattarola for the crown.
French rider Alexandre Ferrer (Sherco) took a shock win on day two in Japan but apart from this has not been a serious contender and the top five is rounded out by Francesc Moret (Montesa) from Spain who is still looking for his first podium finish of the season.
TrialGP Portugal also marks the start of the Trial2 Women campaign and with last year’s top two riders Alex Brancati (Beta) from Italy and American Maddie Hoover (Gas Gas) moving up to the premier TrialGP Women class this year, it’s Germany’s Sophia ter Jung (TRRS) who – on paper at least – starts favourite after finishing third last season.
It is, however, too close to call and riders including Norway’s Erika Melchior (Sherco) and Marine Aurieres (Gas Gas) from France will fancy their chances.
The first of two Qualification sessions to determine running order gets under way at 5.30pm local time. You can keep up to speed with the day’s events by checking in to www.trialgp.com or by downloading the free TrialGP Live app and across our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – just search for TrialGP.
Picture Caption: Jeroni Fajardo will be hoping to beat Toni Bou this weekend Pic (c) Pep Segales