Raga snatches late and dramatic win
Adam Raga – TRRS claimed a sensational, white-knuckle win on Saturday night as the first DL12 Indoor Trial threatened to blow the roof off Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.
The forty-year-old Spaniard emerged on top of an adrenalin-fuelled final with the result only decided on the very last section of the night – the super-steep Honda-sponsored climb from the arena floor to the concourse level over four huge geometric-shaped metal blocks.
Raga’s victory completed his Steel City hat-trick, but it has been a long time coming – the six-time World Champion’s first win at the venue came all the way back in 2005 and his second was in 2016!
“I am super-happy – this is amazing,” he said. “I had back surgery one month and one week ago and I have worked very hard to recover.
“To come here and win such a difficult event is fantastic. My last win here was in 2016 and my first was in 2005 and now I have made it three.
“It has always been a difficult arena for me and at the opening indoor event of the season always you are very nervous and it is one of the most difficult so I am very, very happy to win.”
The action started with Qualification which comprised timed runs across a combination of skips, sleepers and barrels with Jaime Busto – GASGAS the only rider to break the ten-second barrier.
Home hero Toby Martyn – Montesa, who like Busto was making his debut for a new team, had the capacity crowd on their feet in second ahead of thirty-two-time and reigning World Champion Toni Bou – Repsol Honda with Raga back in sixth.
Six all-new, custom-built sections challenged the nine-strong field from the get-go with Busto topping the Heat on a score of eight, three ahead of Bou with Raga completing an all-Spanish top-four on nineteen, four marks behind Gabriel Marcelli – Repsol Honda.
Bou’s total included two big fives and his crash on the Rock Oil rocks of section three resulted in a heel injury that forced the thirteen-time Sheffield winner to withdraw from the final.
With the sections run in reverse – and proving much tougher – for the Final, Busto took an immediate lead as Martyn, Raga and Marcelli all failed to make it through the imposing Inch Perfect logs.
Raga then tied things at the top with an incredible ride on the Vertigo pipes and it remained all square at the halfway mark with the leading pair locked together on a total of eight.
The turning point proved to be the race up the Honda climb which allowed the veteran to open a five-mark gap ahead of his twenty-five-year-old compatriot and when all four riders incurred maximums on the giant Hope cranks and hubs of section four the end result looked certain with two hazards to go.
Martyn, Marcelli and Raga all then failed to get through the mammoth Michelin tyres, but Busto dragged himself back into contention with a miraculous single-mark ride to set up the final-section showdown.
After Martyn failed, Raga was next up knowing a clean ride would be good enough for glory. He had fived it in his Heat, but this time around his silky skills shone through and he skipped his way to the top to become the first-ever DL12 Indoor Trial Champion.
Marcelli also went clean before Busto made sure of second with a precise, faultless ride.
It is only fitting that the final word goes to the man who put his name to an event that looks set to get even bigger and better.
“It’s been an amazing night and the finale was absolutely great,” said co-promoter Dougie Lampkin. “What a fantastic finish and wow, Adam Raga, forty years old! He spanked them – there is hope for us all!
“I am so pleased how it went. The crowd were fantastic and what a great team of people who put this on. Roll on next year.”
The second edition of the DL12 Indoor Trial will take place on Saturday 13th January 2024, with tickets due to go on sale soon for what is sure to be another sell out success.