The initial rounds of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship season offered plenty of nail-biting moments and some surprises!
The first half of the NIGHT of the JUMPS 2011 series is over. After the seventh round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship in the Russian city of Penza in mid-June, the tour began a nearly four-month summer break, which doesn’t end until 22nd October, when the world championship hopefuls contest the Latvian Grand Prix in Riga. So let’s take a look at the season’s events so far!
This year’s NIGHT of the JUMPS opener took place in Turin for the first time and not in Berlin. And it got off to a cracking start: Remi Bizouard made an impressive return, winning the Italian world championship competition. Reigning world champion Podmol, however, didn’t even make the final. Newcomers Javier Villegas, David Rinaldo and Maikel Melero acquitted themselves well: the Chilean rider shot into second place, Rinaldo and Melero performed superb stunts, reaching the final. Jose Miralles and Massimo Bianconcini started the year in fine fashion, the Spaniard securing third place, while Bianco riding on home soil just missed the podium.
The FMX World Championship circus then moved on to the German capital. Jose Miralles took Day 1 from Bizouard and Villegas. On the second day, however, world champion Podmol made a comeback, winning the third round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship, pushing Villegas and Bizouard down the field. Remi Bizouard, however, took the lead in the FMX World Championship with two podiums and a win, closely followed by Javier Villegas, who also enjoyed three podium finishes, and Jose Miralles: he notched up a win and a further podium finish. Newcomer Melero displayed incomparable style, reaching the final in all three contests. And German FMX Professor Fabian Bauersachs was also highly consistent, finishing seventh in three events.
Next came the two Swiss Grands Prix, and with them a new era in the history of the NIGHT of the JUMPS was ushered in; for the first time in 2011, Josh Sheehan appeared in Basel on the world championship stage and nothing would be the same ever again. The Australian not only executed a flawless Lazyboy Flip, but also performed 360s on the course. In addition, he also pulled a One-handed-take-off Tsunami and other neat tricks out of the bag, winning both world championship competitions and, consigning the European FMX top dogs to their kennels. Javier Villegas was the only one to be unimpressed by all of this; he produced two more podium finishes, to secure the lead in the championship standings.
After the NIGHT of the JUMPS premiere in Turin, another ‘newcomer’ broke onto the world championship scene, the Russian city of Penza providing the backdrop for rounds 6 and 7 of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship. Josh Sheehan again, and a further two wins for Australia’s ‘wonder boy’. The outdoor track suited the FMX dominator from Down Under best and he achieved the maximum possible: four world championship starts, four wins. Russia also proved to be the perfect playground for David Rinaldo. The Frenchman performed Airplanes, One-Handed Underflips and Double Seatgrab Backflips, which catapulted him into third place on the first day and second position on Day 2. And Villegas? After a P2 on Saturday, he missed the podium for the first time in 2011 on Sunday with a P4. He can live with that, though, because after seven races he leads the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship with 118 points and has built a comfortable lead of 18 points on Jose Miralles.
Remi Bizouard is still placed third in the world championship, but the Frenchman must by now be wondering what’s going to happen to him; he failed to reach the final on both days in Russia, having left out some of his more spine-tingling tricks, such as the Cliffhanger and Ruler Flip. Podmol also had to accept unfamiliar rankings; P4 and 7 are just not good enough for a world champion, even if his injury is taken into account.
We get the feeling that the old guard at the NIGHT of the JUMPS are on their way out. Veterans and top dogs – Remi Bizouard, Libor Podmol, Jose Miralles, Massimo Bianconcini and Fabian Bauersachs – need to extend their repertoire of tricks, if they want to compete against the likes of newcomers, Josh Sheehan, Javier Villegas, Maikel Melero and David Rinaldo.
Things are moving too in the German rankings and it looks like a changing of the guard is on the cards; Hannes Ackermann is knocking at the door of FMX veteran Fabian Bauersachs. The youngster has dramatically improved the standard of his tricks with Tsunami Flips, Underflips and Airplanes. Hannes subsequently left even Fabian behind in Basel and missed his first IFMXF final by a whisker. Bauersachs restored the old order once again in Penza. But here, change really is the name of the game, and it’s only a matter of time until the rider from the German region of Thuringia regularly outperforms his neighbour from Franconia.
At any rate, we mustn’t forget Red Bull rider Petr Pilat, either. Yes, the Czech youngster has suffered from a lot of injuries, but has matured since last year to become a firm favourite at the NIGHT of the JUMPS. His repertoire of Backflip Combos is unparalleled. If he can continue to improve his non flip tricks, he’s looking like a certainty for the final and perhaps also for a podium soon. Petr reached the finals for the first time in 2011.
As Brice Izzo was seriously injured earlier this year, his brother Romain was given his place. He is known to be a veritable trick king, who could reach the final at any time, given his repertoire, but in the first half of the season, the little Frenchman continually messed up, losing a much better position.
2011 produced the most exciting opening rounds ever in the history of the NIGHT of the JUMPs / FIM Freestyle MX World Championship. During the long summer break, though, every FMX rider has plenty of opportunity to work on tricks and runs. The second half of the season promises to be equally as thrilling. Can Javier Villegas defend his lead in the world championship and possibly even extend it? Or will Josh Sheehan just keep on winning and catch the rider from Chile? And what will world champion Podmol, two-time champion Remi Bizouard and Spain’s ‘El Loco’ Miralles do? Go on the offensive once more? The wait will be over on 22nd October, when the backflip bombshells explode over the skies of Riga....
FIM Freestyle MX World Championships
Ranking (after 7th contest)
1. Javier Villegas CHL AMA Yamaha 118 Points
2. Jose Miralles ESP RFME KTM 100 Points
3. Remi Bizouard FRA FFM Yamaha 97 Points
4. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 86 Points
5. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Suzuki 81 Points
6. Josh Sheehan AUS MA Honda 80 Points
7. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 76 Points
8. Fabian Bauersachs GER DMSB KTM 57 Points
9. Romain Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 52 Points
10. Massimo Bianconcini ITA ACCR KTM 36 Points
11. Lukas Weis GER DMSB Suzuki 36 Points
12. Hannes Ackermann GER DMSB KTM 35 Points
13. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 17 Points
14. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 10 Points
15. Nikolay Ivankov RUS MFR Honda 7 Points