Night of the Jumps excites in China

BianconciniDay Two of NIGHT of the JUMPs in Beijing lived up to its world championship billing.

After the problems with a saturated track which downgraded Saturday’s grand prix to the status of a seeding tournament, conditions were at last up to standard for the seventh round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship.

In fact, the ten FMX riders from seven nations were already firing on all cylinders in qualifying. Whereas Massimo Bianconcini had struggled on the wet dirt in free practice, the Italian produced his best run of 2013, coming through to the final as the surprise package. Now recovered from surgery on his shoulder, Petr Pilat (CZE) laid on a veritable firework display of flips to catapult himself into the last six. Maikel Melero (ESP) also made it through along with the favourites, David Rinaldo (FRA), Dany Torres (ESP) and Libor Podmol (CZE).

Hannes Ackermann (GER) was on a promising run but unfortunately messed up a Cliffhanger Flip and thereby ruled himself out of contention. American rider James Carter’s evening came to a premature end when he crashed coming out of a One-Hand Seatgrab Lookback. Newcomer Joel Brown from Australia made a solid and stylish debut, but ultimately his repertoire was not enough to take him through to the final.

Massimo Bianconcini’s day just got better when he cleared the bar at 7.50 metres to take the Beijing winner’s trophy and further consolidate his lead in the 2013 Maxxis Highest Air standings. The veteran of the arena is on 20 points in this Rinaldocompetition, six ahead of his nearest rival Jose Miralles. Next up was the Rockwell Watch Best Whip in which Dany Torres emerged the winner, followed by a solo FMX performance from Emma McFerran, which got the audience nicely warmed up for the main attraction.

The NIGHT of the JUMPs finale turned out to be the perfect showdown for the Freestyle Motocross premiere in Beijing. With well over 11,000 fans in the arena to cheer them on, the six finalists excelled themselves. Massimo Bianconcini installed himself in the hot seat, albeit fleetingly. He was immediately displaced by Red Bull rider Petr Pilat who performed a Shaolin and Tsunami Flip. But the fifth and sixth-placed contestants in qualifying were destined to advance no further in the final, as Maikel Melero compensated for a minor mistake on his run by tacking an extra Seatgrab Flip onto the end. But that still wasn’t enough to get the diminutive Spaniard onto the podium: Libor Podmol not only pulled off his ‘LP Special Roll’ but also presented a completely new trick combination with a Superman Underflip in the double-up which brought everyone in the audience to their feet.

Current championship leader David Rinaldo was intent on widening the gap with a win. When he almost slammed into the boards on his third jump, he stumbled briefly but then summoned up trick after trick culminating in a Double Seatgrab Flip in the double-up. So once again, the hot seat had to be vacated. However, the close encounter with the barrier was ultimately to prove decisive in giving Dany Torres the edge. The Spanish Red Bull rider executed a clean final run with Hart Attack Flip over the Kicker Ramp, Paris Hilton and Oxecutioner Backflip to crown a successful weekend in the first ever Chinese FMX Grand Prix.

But Rinaldo too had cause to celebrate, as Sunday’s runner-up spot extended his championship lead. After seven rounds of the 2013 World Championship, the Frenchman is now four points ahead of Libor Podmol.

The riders now have two months to get their wind back after the long trip to China and to practise new tricks. The next World Championship points are up for grabs on 26th October at NIGHT of the JUMPs in Riga.

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