CONTENT COPYWRIGHT DL12 INDOOR TRIAL
Toni Bou – Repsol Honda reclaimed his crown as King of Sheffield with a Trial masterclass at Saturday night’s DL12 Indoor Trial V2.0 in front of a capacity crowd inside the city’s Utilita Arena.
The thirty-seven-year-old Spaniard dominated the heat and then hammered home his advantage in the final with a polished performance that had the fans on their feet and left his rivals outclassed.
Nowhere was his superiority better illustrated than in the third section of the final, a long line of imposing metal Red Bull cages where a huge triangular step had stopped all other attempts. Twice Bou launched up it, failed to make it over the top and coolly skipped backwards onto the arena floor before his third full-blooded effort saw him sail over the top to record a sensational clean that was greeted with a deafening roar from the crowd.
After suffering just his second defeat at the iconic venue last season when a foot injury forced him out of the final, his victory on a total of seven gave him a ten-mark winning margin over reigning champion Adam Raga – Sherco who was making his World debut for his new team.
“It feels super-good to win here again because last season I made a big mistake and got injured,” said the thirty-four-time FIM Trial World Champion after recording his fourteenth victory in the Steel City. “Sheffield is always very special – I won for the first time here in 2006 and the crowd is always super-loud. It is amazing to be here.”
The action got under way over a comprehensively revised and reworked course to last year’s inaugural event with a series of races across the mammoth Michelin tyres.
Raga kicked off his defence by defeating FIM Trial2 World Champion Billy Green – Scorpa, Gabriel Marcelli – Repsol Honda narrowly beat seventeen-year-old local hero Harry Hemingway – Beta, Bou drew first blood against his compatriot Jaime Busto – GASGAS and British contender Toby Martyn – Honda cruised home ahead of stand-in rider Miquel Gelabert – Vertigo.
The six sections were tough and technical and Billy Green – who was making his Sheffield debut – showed early promise in the S3/Tru7Group wood stacks and the giant Hope cranks and hubs before a string of maximums put him out of contention. Hemingway also suffered, as did Gelabert who was a late replacement for Matteo Grattarola – Beta.
Martyn escaped with a single mark on the Red Bull cages before recording a confident clean on the Rock Oil rocks, but maximums on the massive Inch Perfect pipes and over the four huge geometric metal blocks of Honda Hill that took riders from the arena floor to the concourse level put him on a total of seventeen.
With Raga scoring thirteen and Marcelli and Busto both dropping six marks, Bou then stepped up with a sensational clean lap with defeat at the hands of Busto in the night’s second race down and up the six barrels set into Honda Hill costing him his sole mark in the heat.
With the scores reset to zero the all-Spanish Final was fought out between Bou, Busto, Marcelli and Raga with Raga losing out to Marcelli and Bou blitzing Busto in the races over the Michelin tyres.
With the sections ridden in reverse Raga and Bou claimed an early advantage with cleans in the opener as Marcelli and Busto both failed to make it up the opening wood stack step that was almost two metres high.
Bou and Busto produced the sole clean rides in section two, but the one-minute time limit was tight and only Bou made it through unpenalized on time before he moved into a comfortable lead with his incredible form across the Red Bull cages.
Marcelli then defeated Raga in the barrel race on Honda Hill while Busto – following a restart – pulled a point back on Bou, but the writing was on the wall.
With three sections remaining Bou led on two, eight clear of Raga and eleven ahead of Busto and Marcelli. Bou and Busto then went clean on the Rock Oil rocks where Raga added two to his score and Marcelli recorded a maximum and when all four failed to negotiate the slick pipes of section five Bou’s victory was assured.
All four cleaned Honda Hill at their final attempt which left Raga one mark clear of Busto and Marcelli fourth, a further five off the podium.
“I’m really, really pleased,” said event co-promoter Dougie Lampkin. “Obviously, you never know just how it’s going to play out. The pipes turned out a bit harder than I thought tonight, but I’m very happy. The level of the top-three was just unbelievable, and Toni was amazing from the first moment – he laid down a marker and that was it, he was gone.”