Dougie Lampkin (Repsol Montesa HRC) took an historic victory at the Grand Prix of Portugal, when he gave the new four stroke trials bike its first World victory during its maiden outdoor competition at this level.
This is the first win for a four stroke in the World Trials Championship since British rider Steve Saunders last won on a Honda RTL back in 1986. Adam Raga (Gas
Gas) and Albert Cabestany Sherco filled the other podium positions respectively.
While Lampkin was riding with a new found confidence, reigning outdoor World champion Takahisa Fujinami (Repsol Montesa HRC) was experiencing the pressures of carrying the number one plate plus adapting to the new bike.
Fifth place was hardly the way the Japanese rider wanted to open the defence of his title. He finished one place higher than the third member of the Repsol Montesa HRC team, Marc Freixa, who gained sixth position due to a greatly improved second lap.
The small and quiet Portuguese village of Pampilhosa Da Serra nestling in the hills, approximately 175km south east of the city of Porto, was given the proud task of hosting the opening round of the 2005 FIM World Trials Championship.
With the paddock filling the main village square, the surrounding step sided valley and flat based river provided in potential the perfect trials terrain to open the battle for the 2005 world outdoor crown.
Light overnight rain and a damp welcome to Sunday added an extra ingredient to what was already promising to be an interesting start to this years campaign.
The action started softly in the river near the paddock, with two easy opening sections before the first real test at section three. Fujinami was first to fail here as he completely lost his front wheel on the difficult descent. This was the first of four fives that would be at the heart of destroying his day.
The leading trio of Lampkin, Cabestany and Raga all showed the local crowd how it should be done with their three different versions of a clean ride. However Raga allowed his other two rivals to ride clear when he made an error in section seven that gave him five very unwanted marks.
As the course made its way around the hillside surrounding the village it soon emerged that the sections were a mixed of too easy and sometimes tricky with little else in the range. The mind games and waiting tactics soon played their own part in the first lap, as the leading riders were forced to close the initial tour at some pace.
The descent in section 11 was enough for Lampkin to opt to take his first five of the day without even making a real attempt as he battled to recover vital minutes. Raga conquered the first undercut step, but pulled back from the vertical drop in the name of safety.
Looking to close the gap on his rivals Fujinami nearly paid the price as he managed to stop himself going over the handlebars, and somehow made it to the end cards for three marks.
Incredibly, only Fujinami collected penalty marks for failing to meet the intermediate three and a half hour time limit, however these two marks only added to what by his high standards had been a poor lap. Lampkin headed the standings at the mid point, but only by a single point from Cabestany, the shock at this stage was Antonio Bou Beta hanging on to third place ahead of Raga, Jarvis and Fujinami.
Freixa was having his own nightmare with three fives mid lap pushing his score up to 27 marks, more than doublewhat Lampkin had completed the same 15 sections for.
The battle at the front of the field remained tense and hotly contested as Raga embarked on an incredible lap during which he only dropped five marks in total. His comeback was both strong and brilliant and certainly applied the pressure on his rivals.
In contrast, Cabestanys attack for victory was beginning to fall apart as he 'fived' both section five and the now famous section 11. Typically, Lampkin was undeterred by what was happening around him and just played his own game. He was actually out-shining Raga until he failed to find drive in the ninth hazard leaving him on the ground in one of the easiest sections of the trial.
This proved to be nothing more than a momentarily blip, as Lampkin immediately resumed control of the trial and closed with a series of pressure rides including two cleans in the last two sections to take the win with a relative margin of comfort.
Raga eventually was awarded with second place, after an official confirmed an error with his score, this had the effect of demoting Cabestany to third position without even the need for an official appeal.
Bou managed to maintain his form to hold off Fujinami, the young Beta rider pushing the Japanese champion back into fifth spot. Freixa enjoyed a similar day to Raga, by being poor in the morning and excellent during the closing lap - the late charge giving Marc a creditable sixth place come the finish.
Lampkin: "I had almost forgot how good it feels to win, and although it has been a little while, it still feels as good as it ever did. In fact it even feels better than that today, especially when you take everything into account.
"All the hard work now seems worthwhile. We have worked every day since the start of the year to be ready for today, and winning is the ultimate reward - not just for my efforts, but the whole team.
"This is an incredibly important victory for Montesa and also for me, Ben and my dad as they have all played a massive part in achieving what we have done today. Winning the first round has now sent a message to my rivals, that I am serious about getting my title back.
"I am sure at the start of the year and with the indoor results we have endured, that there have been people laughing at what we are doing, but today has shown that the four stroke can be competitive and even more, it is capable of winning.
"Each week, we have made some progress and our aim has always been to ready for this trial. Although the timing has been tight, we arrived here in good shape. It is going to be a tough season, but we have made the best possible start."
Fujinami: I was far too nervous today, even by the third section I had made a mistake. People talk about pressure, but I can honestly say that I did not feel any extra pressure today. Yes, I felt nervous, but only like the other riders, it is the first trial and we are riding with a new bike, but really I should have coped better.
"I am not happy with fifth position, but at some points I thought the result could be far worse. I have learnt something new today, and must make sure that I do not let it happen again in the same way."
Freixa: "My day has been in two parts. This morning I rode very poor, and this added to some issues with the officials in the sections has left me with a lot of work to do on the second lap. The second lap was like a new day, and whilst overall sixth is not what I hoping for, I am happy with my performance during my last visit to the sections.
"Next week is another trial, and another new start for me.
Results - Sunday;
- 1. Dougie Lampkin (GB-Montesa Honda), 24
- 2. Adam Raga (E-Gas Gas), 24
- 3. Albert Cabestany (E-Sherco), 25
- 4. Antonio Bou (E-Beta), 31
- 5. Takahisa Fujinami (J-Montessa Honda), 34
- 6. Marc Freixa (E-Montesa), 36
- 7. Graham Jarvis (GB-Sherco), 43
- 8. Kenichi Kuroyama (J-Beta), 51
- 9. Jordi Pascuet (E-Gas Gas), 60
- 10: Fumitaka Nozaki (J-Scorpa), 64
- 11. Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL-Gas Gas), 69
- 12. Shaun Morris (GB-Gas Gas), 80
- 13. Sam Connor (GB-Sherco), 84
- 14. Daniele Maurino (I-Gas Gas), 99 (5x0)
- 15: Fabio Lenzi (I-Montesa), 99 (3x0)
World championship positions after one round;
- 1. Lampkin, 20
- 2. Raga, 17
- 3. Cabesatany, 15
- 4. Bou, 13
- 5. Fujinami, 11
- 6. Freixa, 10
- 7. Jarvis, 9
- 8. Kuroyama, 8
- 9. Pascuet, 7
- 10. Nozaki, 6
- 11.Blazusiak, 5
- 12. Morris, 4
- 13. Connor, 3
- 14. Maurino, 2
- 15. Lenzi, 1