Following another pause in proceedings the 2016 FIM X-Trial World Championship got back underway in the Austrian town of Wiener Neustadt for the third counting round of the series. Confirming the consistent performance of both himself and his factory Vertigo Combat, Jeroni Fajardo again rode a strong event to secure yet another top four placing, this marking his third matching result of the campaign to date.
The condensed Nova arena on the outskirts of the town welcomed the championship for a second consecutive year and was again filled with an almost capacity crowd. Drawn in the third pairing of the evening Fajardo looked composed as he plotted his way through the six sections that defined qualification. Riding alongside his compatriot Cabestany, Jeroni cleaned the opening rocky hazard before losing his first marks, where everyone did, in the awkward log hazard.
The oversized ‘Lego’ like red blocks that made up the third section proved to be a tough test, but not for Fajardo or his fuel injected two stroke Combat as they remained feet up throughout only losing a single time penalty. Jeroni was equally impressive through the closing three sections adding just another three marks to his total to end qualification on a tally of seven to book his place in the all important four-rider final.
Although both brave and committed in his attempt at the six sections in the final, which this time were each ridden in the reverse direction compared to the previous lap, Fajardo was unable to fight his way into a podium position. Jeroni’s third fourth spot on the bounce puts him in the same position in the overall standings ahead of the closing event in Marseille, France this coming Friday.
Vertigo Sports Team Manager Dougie Lampkin said who was again on hand to witness events first hand. “During qualification Jeroni looked strong on the bike and really showed that he is starting to become fully comfortable with the Combat since joining the team at the beginning of the year. The difference between getting up or not getting up some sections in the final was again so small, and Jeroni can count himself unlucky in a couple of places, which basically stopped him challenging for a podium place. Overall the progress is clear for all to see, so as a team we can be happy with that.”
Fajardo said. “From a personal point of view it has been a bit disappointing as I really thought I could be on the podium this time. Qualification went to plan as I knew I had to at least beat Fujinami’s score if I was to pass to the final. Riding first in the final is never good as you immediately lose some advantage to your rivals, and I am sure if I had had the benefit of watching their efforts I could have been closer to a top three placing which will be the goal again in Marseille.”
Dougie Lampkin is a rockstar in the world of Trial Biking. His trophy cabinet is filled with a dozen-odd Indoor and Outdoor Trial Biking Grammies. You might mistake his 6’ 2” frame to lack nimbleness but the dexterity with which he wafts his 69 kilogram bike around will even surprise a Ninjutsu master with nunchucks. The 39-year-old is a champion at making his Vertigo Combat Camo trials motorcycle dance to his tunes. Recently, Dougie unleashed his ‘Greatest Hits Collection vol. 1’ when he landed on the Indian shores. We caught up with the big Yorkshireman to know more about his beats. Your family has always been into motorsports, but how did you manage to get into trial biking specifically? I started with trials because my father was the first FIM Trials world champion in 1975. And to be honest, it’s only the trials that I’ve been interested in all my life.
How old were you when you started?
I grew up around bikes. I started riding when I was 3 years old. I started to do some local competitions when I was 9 and I did the British championship at 12. I started in the adults category when I was 17 and in my first year I won the European championship.
How is the motorsport culture in Yorkshire?
In my area where I grew up, the motorsport culture is the biggest. We have the best terrains and fortunately my family has been riding in the same discipline since years and we have friendship with a lot of land owners so we have a lot of opportunities to ride.
How you tried anything else – circuit racing or anything else?
I’ve tried a lit bit of motocross and extreme enduro but only for fun, nothing serious really.
How does one train for trials?
Trials is one of the easiest disciplines to train. Unlike in the circuit racing, we don’t need a circuit or track marshals or anything of that sorts. We only need a nice piece of terrain and we can start to play and start to train. Speaking of training, what was the training schedule like when you were participating in the championships? Most championships would be on Saturday & Sunday and so we would have Monday off. After that we would train for 3-4 days – about 4 hours per day on the bike and [we’d] also go to the gym and mountain biking. I always preferred to ride the bike as much as possible because it’s good for physical training and also good to keep the level up.
And how do you train now?
Mainly just like riding the bike. I enjoy riding the bike and I also enjoy mountain biking, that’s really where I get my training from. I ride much less now compared to before. But when I was doing the world championship, there was be no time like this to come to places like India and have fun. While I don’t ride in world championship now, I still have a lot more opportunities like this one to go around the world at shows, festivals and other places and to explore new countries.
What’s been your toughest challenge till date?
We were looking for something new and something really challenging. We rode in an ice hotel in Finland. We were riding between -5 and -15 degrees. Performance of the bike wasn’t good because of how cold it was for the tyres and the suspensions. The performance of the rider wasn’t very good either. That was one of the most challenging places I’ve ever ridden.
What can a country like India with limited motorsport infrastructure do to produce a future trial biker champion?
Things like these take time to develop. Just 4-5 years back you had stunt riders from outside coming in to perform and now you have stunt biking teams and competitions in India. In my limited time here I have realized that it seems like over the last 3-5 years, there has been a quite a lot of progress in motorsports in general, and also in stunt biking and custom bikes and there has been an increased interest in two-wheelers as a whole. This is my first time here and hopefully I will be able to come back here again. And hopefully start something small in India. The progress will be slow but one will have to start small for sure. And after that let things take a natural course. You said Yorkshire has one of the best infrastructure, what can the government and the agencies do in India to replicate the same? You just need natural terrain, really. And from what I can see, there is plenty of natural terrain. I understand, sometimes it gets complicated with respect to permissions like at parks and such other places but I’m sure there are plenty of places to ride.
It’s your first time in India. How’s it been?
I’m loving the place. Everyone’s friendly. Especially on this shoot – lot of friendly people. We’re having a lot of fun. Especially when there are such tough days. Yesterday, we had a 12-13 hour day shooting all over Goa on the first day of the shoot and everybody is busy but there’s a good atmosphere here. Really good atmosphere.? How was it riding on the longest staircase you’ve ever ridden at Reis Magos Fort? Yes, those 120-odd steps staircase was the longest one I’ve ever ridden. While coming back up, at a point the rear tyre slipped a bit and I was fighting with the bike for last 6-8 meters to get to the door and the door itself is a bit small. The main reason why this happened is because they steps are uneven as they were built a long time ago when there were no rules or regulation about the height of each step or the length of the staircase. But it was good.
Two wheels or four?
Always two. Guaranteed.
1956 Norton 500 T trials.
Wheelie. Everyone loves wheelies – from when you start riding as a kid to when you grow up.
What will be find in your dream garage?
Lots of classic British road and trials bikes: Triumphs, BSAs, Ariels, AJS, Norton, etc.