Toni Bou: “I would never give myself 10/10, because you can always improve”

7 minutes

The 32-time Trial World Champion, Toni Bou, reviews another successful year for him and the Repsol Honda Team.

Toni Bou: “I would never give myself 10/10, because you can always improve”

Toni Bou took a further two titles in 2022, thanks to 7 TrialGP wins and three second places, plus 4 X-Trial wins and a second place. The most successful rider of all time in the discipline reflects on his year.

Have you begun thinking about 2023 already?

– Yes, we have already started work for 2023. We had a short break in November to rest and for the Honda Thanks Day celebrated in Japan. Then we officially started the preseason and in December we have started the preparations both in terms of fitness and with the bike. Last year we did something similar, but without going to Japan. It has been good to see the engineers again and work with them for a few days. It has been very productive and the intention is to improve on the work from last winter.

What work do you do in preseason?

– It’s hard. We are at a time when things are going very well and when you improve, it is difficult to do so in all aspects. Sometimes you improve in terms of something that you need, but you lose something that you already had. That puts you in a difficult situation. During the year we have made some changes, seeking to improve some aspects, and we realise that it is hard to do. Sometimes there are things that the rider can provide, and other times not so much. We try to make the bike as consistent as possible and the rider does the rest. Sometimes it’s not just about the power, but being in control of the bike as well.

How did you get the most out of the bike?

– This year I raced with two “different” bikes in the Indoor and Outdoor championships. I’m happy because we took a gamble in X-Trial and it went well for us, winning the first four races with the new bike. Then, in the outdoor series, I didn’t feel so good and we took a small step back. I think the way forward is to rely on the bike when I’m not good, and vice-versa. We know that it is not easy to keep up the success that we’ve had recently. We have had an incredible year, everything has gone very well, but it has not been our best year. It is difficult to start again and do things well and keep your motivation so high.

Are you saying that it hasn’t been the best year because you didn’t win all the races?

– It’s difficult to have a perfect season, but there have been years that we have done that. Repeating a perfect season is tough: You have to win everything. 2022 has not been our best year because we have made mistakes. I’m very competitive and also realistic. It has been a very good year, we have worked hard, we have done things well… but it has not been our best season.

What mark would you give 2022?

– I would never give myself 10/10, because you can always improve. Those years that were so good and in which I won all the races, were a 9. This 2022 has been a 7-8 season, a good season. The team were 10/10. They have worked very well, they have done everything I have asked of them and I’m very grateful. They put in a lot of dedication and have maintained their motivation. This was the first year with Carles and also with Fuji as team manager, and it went very well. I’m very happy and I think we are going to get better.

This was your first year with Gabriel Marcelli as a teammate. What has it been like to share a team with him?

– I have a very good relationship with Gabriel. He is a very easy guy to get on with, because he has a very good personality. Having teammates like him is very positive. He is very talented. I have helped him where I could and I think he is a rider with a great future. I think he is better than the results he has obtained. At the end of the season he did more than was expected, and being on this team is not easy. He has been working well, learning many new things.

With Takahisa Fujinami becoming Team Manager there has been no time to adapt.

– It was difficult, because with Miquel Cirera we had won everything. The first year is complicated because you’re coming from 15 years winning everything. Imagine if, for whatever reason, you lose a title, which could happen, because it is something that, sooner or later, will happen. We can’t always win. Fujinami has worked hard, he doesn’t have a schedule and the best thing is that he understands the riders. He is there for what we need.

Were you in very good shape at the start of the season?

– Perfect! Physically I was very good all year and I felt very good. There were times when I felt very good on the bike, better than some other years, but we also made some mistakes. Our rivals were pushing us, but we also made mistakes. Hopefully the 2023 season will be as good as this one.

Is part of your methodology to improve?

– It’s something that’s very difficult, since I’m very demanding, I know that I can improve. Even the very good seasons we’ve had, could have been better. To continue progressing, the bike also has to improve, as it can help me take a step forward. In terms of riding, I think I’ve reached my limit, but if we improve the bike, we can also take a step forward.

What did you think of your rivals this year: Adam Raga, Jaime Busto, Matteo Grattarola?

– There are more top riders than other years, with five who can win races, and who are always there on the podium. Also the races are easier, so more people get into the fight and more things can happen. For the moment, this has benefited us because being more consistent than others  has given us a title. When we haven’t won, we have been second. With seven victories and three second places, it was a complete season and those who have finished second and third in several races, have been left off the podium in others. This gives you more peace of mind.
In some races we have been close to finishing fifth or sixth. This year it was very easy for that to happen because you can’t make any mistakes!

Has the current format made it easier, more even and put more riders into the fight for victory?

– In a way it’s normal, because that way it is more evenly matched, but this is a show, and you have to entertain. There have been easy races, with few points, and others that have not been so easy. I think that the level of the riders is so high among those in front that it guarantees that penalty points are committed. If they lowered the level further there would be no show.

It seems that there will be a few more races than 2022 and a split season in X-Trial. What is your opinion on this?

– We have had a few years with few races, so just having 8 indoor and 12 outdoor races is already good. It is important to have more rounds in both competitions. The fact that we don’t finish the indoor championship and start the outdoor season is not the best thing, but if instead of only 4 races there are going to be 8, so be it!

So, let’s work for the 33rd…

– Let’s go!

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