Has the X-Trial World Championship lost its shine?

The 2017 FIM X-Trial World Championship dates have been released. The four round series will visit Britain, Spain, Austria and France before returning to France for the second time in the short season and the X-Trial of Nations in April.

This news should be a good thing, a positive light on the new season just around the corner. But take a look at the short list, and it is a short list, and you can’t help begin to wonder what’s up?

  • 9 January Sheffield , UK
  • 7 February Barcelona, Spain
  • 19 March Wiener Neustadt, Austria
  • 25 March Marseille, France
  • 1 April Nice, France X-Trial of Nations

Two things stand out: France features pretty heavily and four rounds makes a pretty short series for a sport with seemingly such a high profile.

Spanish world number one, 20 times world champion, factory HRC/Repsol Honda rider Toni Bou is as responsible for that high profile as anyone. He’s the Valentino Rossi of trials: incredibly talented, a game-changer and a high profile sports personality elevating himself and his sport beyond muddy banks and rocky streams.

But take him away and with the best will in the world where is indoor trials at? Though it is sad to say, has the format of one rider negotiating a trials section within a team limit lost it’s shine? Sure, the level of skill required to ride these sections is out of this world, a fact no-one could debate. But by nature this sport is deliberate, spectacular if you understand the skills but if you don’t, where’s the attraction when an arena somewhere in the same month, somewhere in Europe an FMX show (for example) will impress the cotton socks of any old lady/kid/football fan etc.

This isn’t to knock anyone, particularly organisers. The French Federation of Motorcycling is a great example of an organisation doing a great job, off-road sport is clearly on a high in France at the moment. It’s been helped by great success in motocross – the recent MX of Nations result reflects that. Next year will see two rounds of the MXGP championship visit France where spectator numbers are always high. It is also great to see the X-Trial championship going where the crowds are going to fill stadia.

But the crux of the matter for this fantastical two-wheel show remains: is the show good enough to non-trials fans? Does it pack the punch of, for example, and AMA Supercross? The Supermotocross Riders and Manufacturers Cup at Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen this October? Or any Arenacross event packed with  racing action all night from kids to pro riders? FMX shows cope with the one rider at a time format but makes great spectacle of the whole event.

Ultimately it is disappointing to see just four X-Trial GPs simply because it isn’t enough. Whether crowd numbers are to blame, the relative small size of the trials market and therefore the lack of appeal of these events to other sport fans. Or maybe we’re just bored of the same show, spectacular as it is, coming along each January/February.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *