With the final of the 2018 FIM Freestyle Motocross World Championships coming down to the wire in Shenzhen, China, the opening night was always billed to be one of the highlights for the season. 10 riders from 5 nations battled in front of a huge Chinese crowd for valuable championship points in the most important weekend of the season.
The Brazilian duo surprised the Chinese crowd with their debut performances. Nicolas Ferreira put together a solid run while ‘Kiko’ Silva rode well but received only half points for running out of time in the Double-Up. Brayden ‘Muggins’ Davies from Australia returned to Shenzhen after his successful debut in 2017 with a 3rd position to have mechanical problems this year. Despite missing some practise, Muggins pieced together a run with some big tricks like the Switchblade Flip to finish. Kai Haase was the unlucky 7th place finisher with a clean run, but missed the top 6 podium by only a handful of points.
In the best whip, Haase pushed his impressive racer styled ‘seat bounce whips’ against the Australian Pat Bowden, but it was the Aussie who narrowly took the win in the Rockwell Best Whip competition with his huge Turndown Whips.
The two riders would meet again in the Maxxis Highest Air competition, where Kai was looking to finally cement a win for the night. In what turned out being one of the most exciting Highest Air competitions ever seen at NIGHT of the JUMPs, Haase and Bowden spared no time in pushing the height from 5.00 to 9.50 metres, 1 metre at a time. The fast paced Highest Air action came to crescendo when the bar simply could not be raised any further and both riders had to share a tied result, splitting the prize money and requiring two Winners trophies.
The Top 6 final was awash with Czech Republic riders, with Filip Podmol sneaking in after qualifying in 6th position, while his brother Libor Podmol and also Petr Pilat battled for a top spot on the podium. A real battle was brewing for 3rd position. Petr Pilat won over the crowd after a blistering performance, squeezing 10 jumps into his time limit with a lot of different backflip combos. But the judges disagreed with the crowd after Pilat finished his Double Up with the Flair, managing to spin the 540, but not able to control the landing. He ended up stopping in his tracks on the landing and stomping his foot in the ground which cost him valuable points.
Pat Bowden was the most stylish of the riders in the Top 6 final showing text book Ruler Flips, Cliffhanger Flips and a cool 360 Nac. Unfortunately Bowden made a small mistake on the Double Grab flip and had to settle for 4th position.
Libor Podmol was the victor of the 3rd position on the podium shootout. Although Libor also had a few minor mistakes, his big point scoring tricks such as the Supercan Flip, LP Roll and Base Jump, was enough for him to all but seal 3rd in the overall 2018 FIM Freestyle MX World Championships.
Maikel Melero knew he had to play the long game. Needing to only finish in second position two nights in a row and knowing that Luc Ackermann had a Double Backflip in his bag of tricks, Maikel set about landing a perfectly clean run, without pushing his biggest tricks. But the script almost went out of the window when he landed his first trick as a California Roll, followed by a Flair and then into a Backflip Lazyboy, the crowd knew they were in for a great final. After landing a Nac-Nac Flair in the Double Up, Maikel had at least secured second position for the night and only had to wait and see what Luc would produce.
Looking to secure valuable points for the final night’s competition, Luc Ackermann had all the pressure put on him to show his biggest tricks to trump Melero. The German wunderkind didn’t disappoint with the Chinese crowd on their feet for the final rider of the night. Starting with the biggest Hart Attack Backflip Luc has ever done, the German’s run only improved. A perfect 360 on the Super Kicker into a huge Backflip Indy in the Double-Double line before spinning a perfect Flair on the return jump. With everyone’s hearts collectively stuck in their throats, Luc’s run was off the Richter scale until he made a huge error on the Surfer take-off to Tsunami Flip when things got out of control. Luc managed to wrestle his Husqvarna 450 back to terrafirma, but the doubt set in, and he had a Dead Sailor on the return jump. When the crowd thought all hope was lost, Luc produced one of the biggest highlights of the night, quickly landing a Mini-Flip off a 75 centimetres high mound of dirt and rolling straight into the 15 metre long Super Kicker to land the first Double Backflip of the Finals.
Hoping to rally the judges, Luc landed a Double Backflip with a Nac-Nac to finish his run. The judges had to decide whether a safe clean run with great variety from Melero should win over an adrenaline pumping run from Ackermann with some mistakes. With points tied exactly on 376 from 3 judges, the tie-breaker came from counting all 5 judges scores which only narrowly gave Maikel Melero the win with only a 3 points buffer
Day two in Shenzhen promises to be even more exciting as the final event will decide the 2018 FIM Freestyle Motocross World Champion and the battle between Melero and Ackermann will finally be decided.
NIGHT of the JUMPs/FIM Freestyle MX World Championship
Shenzhen, 17. November 2018 – Runde 7
Results NIGHT of the JUMPs – Final
1. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 376 Points
2. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 376 Points
3. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Husqvarna 327 Points
3. Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha 323 Points
5. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 317 Points
6. Filip Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 303 Points
1. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 352 Points
2. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 314 Points
3. Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha 299 Points
4. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Husqvarna 298 Points
5. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 285 Points
6. Filip Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 276 Points
6. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 264 Points
8. Braydon Davies AUS MA Kawasaki 248 Points
9. Jonilson Lima da Silva BRA CBA Yamaha 185 Points
10. Nicolas Ferreira BRA CBA Kawasaki 158 Points
1. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 9,50 Meter
Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha 9,00 Meter
Results Best Whip Contest
1. Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha
2. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki
FIM Freestyle MX World Championship 2018
Ranking (after 7th contest)
1. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 118 Points
2. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 112 Points
3. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Husqvarna 94 Points
4. Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha 70 Points
5. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 67 Points
6. Rob Adelberg AUS MA Yamaha 60 Points
7. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 60 Points
8. Remi Bizouard FRA FFM Kawasaki 55 Points
9. Brice Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 50 Points
10. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 44 Points
11. Leonardo Fini ITA PZM KTM 29 Points
12. Filip Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 25 Points
13. Braydon Davies AUS MA Kawasaki 8 Points
14. Jonilson Lima da Silva BRA CBF Yamaha 7 Points
15. Marcin Lukaszcek POL PZM Yamaha 6 Points
16. Marc Pinyol ESP RFME Yamaha 6 Points
17. Nicolas Ferreira BRA CBF Kawasaki 6 Points
18. Rafal Bialy POL PZM Yamaha 4 Points