Porirua’s Dylan Ball created history at the weekend when he became the youngest rider to win the New Zealand Trial Championships in the premier division.

The just-turned 15-year-old won the Expert Grade at the AdrenalinR Mufflers-sponsored three-day contest in Hawke’s Bay over Labour Weekend, the annual event wrapping up on Monday.

Tauranga’s Stefan Merriman won the same title as a 16-year-old in 1989, before he went on to win the junior world title that same year.

Ball could also become a world champion if he keeps the momentum going and he has already experienced competition overseas, tackling the 125cc class at the world championships in Europe and Japan earlier this year, finishing eighth overall out of 20 riders.

Ball, a year 10 pupil at Whitby Collegiate, also won the Junior Grade at the weekend, edging out Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth, while Rushworth herself did grab a national title, winning the Women’s Grade ahead of Wellington’s Isla Davis and Christchurch’s Evie Hubbard.

His focus was on the premier grade and there he proved unstoppable, clearly winning all three days, out-scoring Christchurch’s Jules Huguenin and Taranaki’s Matt Foster.

Australian visitor Kevin Zarcynski won the New Zealand Experts Grade title last year but he was a no-show this time around.

“The course was right up my alley,” said Ball. “It was mostly steep rocks and that’s a challenge I enjoy. I didn’t drop too many points all weekend. I knew Jules (Huguenin) and Matt (Foster) were riding pretty well, but I just concentrated on doing my own thing. It has been a massive year for me and this result is a huge confidence-booster for me. I have been riding against top opposition overseas and training on pretty extreme terrain. I hope to go back to train more with (former world-class trial rider) Joan Pons in Barcelona next year. I just have to get my school exams out of the way first.”

Other class winners in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend were Whangarei rider Luke March (A Grade), originally from Hawke’s Bay; Taranaki’s Jason Day (Intermediates); Wellington’s Cameron Judd (Mini A); Upper Hutt’s Luke Pearce (Mini B); Upper Hutt’s Ben Pearce (Mini C); Napier’s Paul Simmonds (Presidents Grade); Wellington’s Mark Sidebotham (Sportsmans); Tauranga’s Warwick Merriman (Clubmans); Rangiora’s Paul Jackson (Twin Shock).

Meanwhile, the North Island versus South Island Teams’ Challenge was won by the North Island, 25 points to 14.

Motorcycling New Zealand trial commissioner Paul Jackson said everyone was really happy with the content of the sections.

“They were long sections and quite physical, but not dangerous. The riders needed to maintain their concentration. We had 22 mini riders entered and that was impressive,” he said. “The minis was the highlight of the weekend. We introduced this class this year and it has been a great success. The minis had great support from parents, which was good to see too.”

Run by the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club, day one of this event was set at  Tongoio, north of Eskdale, on Saturday, with day two at Waitara Road, off the Napier-Taupo Road, and it was wrapped up with day three at Dartmoor on Labour Day Monday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

This year’s annual New Zealand Trial Championships will be doing things by threes.

The championships will be held in Hawke’s Bay this coming Labour Weekend and will test riders at three different extreme venues over the three days.

In addition to that, the AdrenalinR Mufflers-sponsored contest will feature intriguing match-ups between a trio of separate three-rider groups that are each made up from three generations.

Paraparaumu’s John Lawton is the patriarch of the Lawton clan, with son Stuart Lawton and grand-son James also entered; Tauranga’s Nigel Shilton lines up this weekend alongside his son, Phillip Shilton, and his grandson, Cayden; and Hawke’s Bay fans of the sport will be thrilled to observe Hastings veteran Jeff March compete alongside son Luke March and grandson Ben.

Event organiser Warren Laugesen, himself a remarkable seven-time former winner of the premier title, said it shows that trials is “a great activity for all the family”.

“We are pretty excited to have a new minis class this year too. We want to encourage newcomers to the sport because this is a potential growth area. This is where we offer something for the next generation of riders coming through,” he said. “It would cater for riders aged up to 14 years and allows for electric and petrol-engine bikes. The courses laid out for the minis won’t be too daunting,” he added.

It will certainly be challenging for the senior riders, with tricky terrain set to feature steep rocks and treacherous creek beds. Laugesen said that two of the venues had never before been used for national-level trial events, so there may be a few surprises in store for the riders. The event runs from Saturday through until Monday and will test these elite riders over multiple laps on each of the three days – with each lap including a dozen difficult sections – and at three entirely different locations.

It is expected that Wellington youngster Dylan Ball will lead the charge to the top of the rankings in the premier Experts Grade class this year, although there are still plenty of contenders to watch out for, including Stuart Lawton, Taranaki’s Matt Foster and Christchurch’s Jules Huguenin.

The 15-year-old Ball has ridden internationally and he won the 2018 North Island champs in this top grade and also won the Junior Grade at the nationals last year. He has been knocking on the door for greater honours too over the past 12 months.

Other leading riders to watch for this weekend should include Dunedin’s father and son pair Gavin and Blake Fox, Christchurch’s Glenn Smith, Wellington’s Carl Robson, Ashhurst’s Kevin Pinfold, Hamilton’s Stephen Armistead, Northcote’s Ray Skinner, Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth, Taranaki’s Daniel Herbert and Kaikoura’s David Trewin, to name a few.

Australian rider Kevin Zarcynski won the main trophy last year, but he will not be back to defend the title this time around.

Motorcycling New Zealand trial commissioner Paul Jackson said the sport was looking healthy and there are “a few things we are working on to see it pick up some more”.

“The minis and juniors is where it’s at … and it will be good to see if we can get these young ones hooked into the sport,” he said.

In addition to the Experts and Minis Grades, the competition this weekend includes A Grade, Intermediate, Presidents, Sportsman, Clubman, Twin Shock, Women’s and Junior grades in the programme.

Run by the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club, day one of this event is set for Tongoio, north of Eskdale, on Saturday (October 26), with day two at Waitara Road, off the Napier-Taupo Road, and it all wraps up with day three at Dartmoor on Labour Day Monday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Paraparaumu’s Stuart Lawton, leading a three-pronged title attack on behalf of his family this weekend.

The Repsol Honda Team rider has been crowned 2019 TrialGP World Champion. Toni Bou, who triumphed in the French trial, takes his tally of consecutive title wins to 13 in TrialGP, in addition to the 13 indoor trophies. 26 titles for the greatest rider in history!

“This is not a miracle, it’s a legend” reads the slogan printed across the Repsol Honda Team commemorative t-shirts for the 26th Toni Bou world title. The latest trial victory, the seventh of the season, means that Toni Bou mathematically seals the TrialGP World Champion title for the thirteenth time in a row.

The Repsol Honda Team rider was a cut above the rest from the get-go in a trial full of long, steep sections and Bou was clearly feeling at ease as evidenced by the mere nine marks accrued throughout. The trial or the title never looked in question. The triumph is the 111th victory for Toni Bou in Trial World Championships as well as the thirteenth consecutive trial win since Andorra last season. The Repsol Honda Team star has made a clean streak so far in the 2019 Trial World Championship, with one event still to contest.

Team-mate Takahisa Fujinami finished in fifth position on the day. ‘Fujigas’ rode a notable first lap with good sensations but went into the second lap and began to collect marks and eventually had to settle for fifth position. In the championship standings, Fujinami sits fourth in the rankings with everything to play for at the final event.

The next trial for the Repsol Honda Team will be the final round of the TrialGP World Championship set to take place on 21st and 22nd September in La Nucia, Spain.

Toni Bou

TRIAL: 1ST   STANDINGS: 1ST

Today was a day where I had to work hard to make any difference, especially during the opening sections. But that is what we did and we made it to section eight on zero. I think I rode an intelligent trial. I felt very comfortable on the bike. As always, there is no better way to win a new title than with a victory and with good feelings. It was a short but intense world championship. I think that this season we have matured a lot. Last year we had so many injuries, this year we have been very comfortable on the bike, which we’ve seen reflected in the wins and the riding, so now it’s time to savour the moment and enjoy the holidays.

Takahisa Fujinami

TRIAL: 5TH   STANDINGS: 4TH

During the first lap around the sections, I felt very confident with the bike and I cleaned many of the sections and was tied with Busto in second. By the second lap I have already started to feel that the pace was not good enough. In the end I finished fifth, which was not bad. But hey, that’s the way trials are and at the moment I’m fourth time of the championship. Now for the final event in Spain. I also wish to congratulate Toni Bou, the family and the whole team for his 26th World Championship because they have all worked really hard. I am very happy to be his team-mate.

Miquel Cirera

Team Manager

Celebrating a title is always great. First of all I want to thanks and congratulate Toni as always. Congratulate all the team of doctors who helped us, the HRC team, the Honda team and everyone who helped Toni. Obviously congratulations to his closest associates, the mechanics. We have all done a great job. This season Toni started in very good shape, that’s why he has been able to win all the trials which we’ve been in until today. As we always say, ‘He’s a monster!’ And as we have put on the shirt. “This is not a miracle, it’s a legend”. We can’t ask for anything more, if we could, we would add more, year after year.
Today Fujinami tried hard but it wasn’t to be. Trials are like that and the rivals are very strong. Congratulations to him because he always fights and gives it his best shot. Now we have the final trial at home and as always we will do everything to win.
Last, I want to congratulate Toni and Gabriel Marcelli, from Trial2, that helps to get another constructors title.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 BOU Toni 1 SPA 140 Repsol Honda Team
2 RAGA Adam 67 SPA 113 TRRS Factory Team
3 FAJARDO Jeroni 2 SPA 95 Gas Gas
4 FUJINAMI Takahisa 6 JPN 88 Repsol Honda Team
5 BUSTO Jaime 69 SPA 77 Vertigo Factory Team
6 DABILL James 22 GBR 68 Beta Factory Racing
7 CASALES Jorge 33 SPA 65 Vertigo Factory Team
8 BINCAZ Benoit 73 FRA 53 Beta Factory Racing
9 KADLEC Franz 66 GER 53 TRRS Factory Team
10 GELABERT Miquel 9 SPA 50 Sherco Factory Team
11 PRICE Jack 34 GBR 36 Gas Gas
12 FARRE Arnau 19 SPA 21 Team Jotagas
13 PEACE Dan 38 GBR 19 Sherco Factory Team
14 NOGUERA Oriol 13 SPA 10 Team Jotagas
15 RIVA  Andrea 96 ITA 9 TRRS Factory Team
16 KUROYAMA Kenichi 98 JPN 7 Yamaha Racing
17 NOZAKI Fumitaka 99 JPN 3 Yamaha Racing
18 OGAWA Tomoyuki 97 JPN 3 Honda

Photos: Pep Segales / Honda Racing Corporation

The next round of the TrialGP World Championship will be held this weekend in the French location of Auron in the midst of the Alps. The Repsol Honda team duo, unbeaten Toni Bou and brother-in-arms Takahisa Fujinami, arrive confident they can achieve a good result from the highly-demanding trial.

The altitude of the Auron ski resort will present a new challenge for Repsol Honda Team. The TrialGP campaign this weekend stops off in the tiny Alpine village which will host the event some 1,600 metres above sea-level, which will test the strength and performance of both riders and bikes in this, the sixth round of the world championship.

Toni Bou, clear leader in the championship standings and undefeated after five wins on the spin in the GPs held so far in 2019, will also get his first shot at sealing the overall world title – the thirteenth in TrialGP and the twenty-sixth career title in the elite class. The Spaniard sits in a privileged position at the head of the leader board with a 22-point cushion over arch-rival Adam Raga. Finishing ahead of his fellow-Spaniard in France will be enough to mathematically guarantee the 2019 championship.

Bou’s Japanese partner Takahisa Fujinami, currently lying in fourth position in the championship, will once again go in search of a position that could potentially keep him in the running for an overall podium at the end of the season.

The French TrialGP gets underway on Saturday with the technical and administrative shakedown at 08:00 CET with the qualifying section starting at 15:30. On Sunday the main event is scheduled to begin at 10:00 with the final podium due to take place at 16:45.

Toni Bou

POSITION: 1ST  POINTS: 120

We are having a great championship and we are confident that it could continue this weekend in France too. We are going to try to find the right rapport with the bike in Auron, where altitude can influence things a lot. We will also try to arrive there after having physically recovered, so that we will be at our best. We know we can win the championship, sure, but the first thing we want to do is have a good trial and make sure nothing strange happens, then we’ll be able to go away and have a good vacation.

Takahisa Fujinami

POSITION: 4TH  POINTS: 77

Physically I feel very well and I think that technically I am also better this year. We have not been able to rest much between Portugal and France because we want to prepare for the Auron trial as best we could as it will be a complicated one. In the championship, if I want to improve my position, I will have to fight a lot. Now I am fourth, but there are always options to gain a position… or also to lose one. I will fight to get the best possible result.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 BOU Toni 1 SPA 120 Repsol Honda Team
2 RAGA Adam 67 SPA 98 TRRS Factory Team
3 FAJARDO Jeroni 2 SPA 82 Gas Gas
4 FUJINAMI Takahisa 6 JPN 77 Repsol Honda Team
5 DABILL James 22 GBR 60 Beta Factory Racing
6 BUSTO Jaime 69 SPA 60 Vertigo Factory Team
7 CASALES Jorge 33 SPA 55 Vertigo Factory Team
8 KADLEC Franz 66 GER 47 TRRS Factory Team
9 BINCAZ Benoit 73 FRA 46 Beta Factory Racing
10 GELABERT Miquel 9 SPA 41 Sherco Factory Team
11 PRICE Jack 34 GBR 31 Gas Gas
12 FARRE Arnau 19 SPA 17 Team Jotagas
13 PEACE Dan 38 GBR 17 Sherco Factory Team
14 NOGUERA Oriol 13 SPA 10 Team Jotagas
15 KUROYAMA Kenichi 98 JPN 7 Yamaha Racing
16 RIVA  Andrea 96 ITA 6 TRRS Factory Team
17 NOZAKI Fumitaka 99 JPN 3 Yamaha Racing
18 OGAWA Tomoyuki 97 JPN 3 Honda

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Gouveia is a lucky charm for Toni Bou. At the same location last year the champ celebrated his 100th victory in TrialGP world championships. This year he was once again on the top of the podium, this time taking the tally to 110 top-flight wins. Takahisa Fujinami, meanwhile, had to settle for fifth place, just one point shy of fourth spot after a decent trial.

The fifth round of the TrialGP world championship, held today in Gouveia, Portugal was marked by roasting temperatures and very demanding sections located amongst the boulders of the Parque de Nostra Senhora los Verdes.

Repsol Honda Team ace Toni Bou suffered considerably in the gruelling Portuguese trial. In spite of a first lap which saw Bou make several mistakes and pick-up a penalty for exceeding the lap time limit, the Champion was nevertheless able to stage a comeback on lap two to take his win tally to 110 out of 210 World Championship participations. This, the fifth victory of the season increases Bou’s overall lead to 22 points over the nearest second-place rival.

Bou’s Repsol Honda Team partner Takahisa Fujinami, also had a rough battle in the Portuguese sections. After leading for much of the first lap the Japanese rider finished the first tour still in a potential podium position, however, the second time around saw several riders so narrowly divided on points that Fujinami had to eventually settle for fifth final spot, a mere point from fourth place.

The next TrialGP world championship outing, the sixth points-paying round, will be held next weekend in Auron, France, 20/ 21 July.

Toni Bou

TRIAL: 1ST   STANDINGS: 1ST

Today was a very tough trial. It was a very positive weekend, with the type of terrain that we like a lot. We rode a very good second round through the sections, so we leave here with a very good taste in our mouths. We will try to be fully recovered for France to be able to have a good trial. We know that, if we win, I will be champion, something really impressive, but the important thing is to have a great trial. I am very happy and I want to thank the whole team because this week they have done a great job.

Takahisa Fujinami

TRIAL: 5TH   STANDINGS: 4TH

Today we started very well. Until section 13 I was leader, but later I picked up some time penalty marks. On the second lap I tried to change the line and the tracks. In the end I finished fifth but with good sensations. We will try to improve on the things that didn’t work for us today before next week’s trial.

Miquel Cirera

Team Manager

This was a weekend for the whole team. Obviously Toni battled hard and suffered because these trials are not easy and the rivals are very strong. Fujinami has also fought until the final sections to try and make the podium. Finally, it was not to be, but it was a great result. We will be fighting trial by trial, as we have been doing all season, so in France we will continue to do the same: try to win. Thanks as always to all the team and the riders for the good work.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 BOU Toni 1 SPA 120 Repsol Honda Team
2 RAGA Adam 67 SPA 98 TRRS Factory Team
3 FAJARDO Jeroni 2 SPA 82 Gas Gas
4 FUJINAMI Takahisa 6 JPN 77 Repsol Honda Team
5 DABILL James 22 GBR 60 Beta Factory Racing
6 BUSTO Jaime 69 SPA 60 Vertigo Factory Team
7 CASALES Jorge 33 SPA 55 Vertigo Factory Team
8 KADLEC Franz 66 GER 47 TRRS Factory Team
9 BINCAZ Benoit 73 FRA 46 Beta Factory Racing
10 GELABERT Miquel 9 SPA 41 Sherco Factory Team
11 PRICE Jack 34 GBR 31 Gas Gas
12 FARRE Arnau 19 SPA 17 Team Jotagas
13 PEACE Dan 38 GBR 17 Sherco Factory Team
14 NOGUERA Oriol 13 SPA 10 Team Jotagas
15 KUROYAMA Kenichi 98 JPN 7 Yamaha Racing
16 RIVA  Andrea 96 ITA 6 TRRS Factory Team
17 NOZAKI Fumitaka 99 JPN 3 Yamaha Racing
18 OGAWA Tomoyuki 97 JPN 3 Honda

 

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation