The Team Manager of the Repsol Honda Trial Team takes stock of the 2023 season, in which the team achieved two world titles and two third places overall.
Toni Bou always defines Repsol Honda as “his family” and now he has renewed for four more years. What does this mean for the team?
“In 17 years with Toni on the team we have won 34 titles -two for each year together, and that deserves full admiration and respect. He had a contract until 2024, but we have extended it until 2027. This extension of the agreement is due to the fact that the objective, both for Toni and Honda, is to reach 40 years old with 40 titles. It is an ambitious goal, but no one expected everything that has been achieved so far, so it is not impossible.”
Toni has won two more titles, making it a total of 34. What have you noticed different about him compared to other seasons?
“Nowadays all the riders have a lot of talent. This year we have seen that Jaime has changed a lot in his way of managing races, so he has been a strong rival for us. In TrialGP, Toni and Jaime took turns taking first and second place overall during the first half of the season, something that was difficult to deal with. The change came from Japan, a turning point for Toni who focused on winning again, and from that moment on everything started to go better.”
What does Toni have left to do after 17 years of winning everything?
“He isn’t missing anything… he remains motivated, eager and improving technical aspects. Comparing him to Gabri and other young riders, it is obvious that Toni is not raising his level as fast as the rest, but it is not dropping either, which is what he counts. The only thing that must be more difficult for him is the recovery after each race, because his age is not the same as the rest of the competitors, but experience plays in his favour.”
How was Gabri’s development in 2023?
“At the beginning of the indoor season he already showed that he had raised his game. The results began to improve from the beginning: In his first race he was already second. The bad thing is that the leg injury slowed him down a bit for a month, but in terms of confidence and technique, the improvement is clear. That break hurt him a little when it came to getting back on the pace, just when he started the Outdoor series, but he had a good base and from there everything got better.”
Do you think he should be taken into account for the fight for the championship indoors, or is Toni still very strong?
“I think Gabri has to think about the title. When compared to Toni, he needs to go racing with the mentality that he is going to win every race, it would give him extra confidence because he has the talent to be fighting for the victory. He has been third overall, but lacked a victory. His first objective has to be to win a race. This year he came very close on two occasions, but he has to finish it off. Gabri has to trust himself and convince himself that he can win and can fight for the title. I think when he gets his first win, everything will click. He goes step-by-step. He never backs down, but he also doesn’t want to raise expectations too much. That’s his way.”
What do you ask of Gabri in terms of improvements for next year?
“Technically, there are still some details missing. I think he is at a very good level both indoors and outdoors, but his rhythm needs to be fine-tuned -especially in TrialGP. He is very cautious and he needs to be more dynamic and faster. He wants to have everything under control and that’s ok, because it’s his style, but you have to try to change things a little.”
What assessment do you make of your second year as Team Manager?
“Very happy. Last year everything was new for me and it was a little more difficult. I had to adapt and the processes were slower, but this year has been different and I have been able to enjoy my time with both Toni and Gabri more. I felt better, of course, and I have been able to be there for them much more. Furthermore, the results have been very good on both sides, so there is little I can add. I’m very proud of 2023, without a doubt.”
What do you expect from the team for 2024?
“I feel very happy to work with a team where we are all going in the same direction and we are a like a family. To try to achieve at least the same as this year. I am satisfied with the work from all the team members, so I can only ask them to continue along the same path and to continue believing in the project as they have done up to now.”