Saturday’s FMX Grand Prix in Basel was the second half of a double bill. Only eleven of the riders who contested the fourth round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship on Friday lined up for Round 5, with Germany’s Lukas Weis still feeling the effects of his horror crash on Friday.
Apart from the enforced absence of Lukas ‘Skywalker’ Weis, the qualifying session was a repeat of the previous day. Hannes Ackermann once again made two mistakes on his run, and even the world premiere of his latest Shoebox to No Hand Landing combo wasn’t enough to save him from an early exit. Despite pulling off a Surfer to Tsunami, Massimo Bianconcini also missed out on the final. The same fate befell Jose Miralles and Brice Izzo. The unluckiest man on the night was surely Petr Pilat. Although the Czech Red Bull rider completely revamped his run and incorporated a Superman Seatgrab Flip over the 26-metre gap, he still couldn’t make it past an anonymous seventh place. Booking their slots in the last six were Mat Rebeaud (mainly on the basis of his 540 Flair), Remi Bizouard, Maikel Melero, Libor Podmol, Rob Adelberg and preliminary leader Dany Torres.
Fans in a sold-out Sankt Jakobshalle roared on local hero Mat Rebeaud in the Rockwell Best Whip, and he almost served up a victory for his home crowd, but the judges deemed Massimo Bianconcini to have the edge.
However, the Italian high-jump specialist was actually much more interested in getting his hands back on the Maxxis Highest Air trophy, a contest in which he had recently been twice outdone by Jose Miralles. With his reputation on the line, Bianconcini urged the stewards to keep pushing up the bar. When he eventually cleared it at 8.50 metres, Miralles had to concede defeat.
The Swiss fans were willing Mat Rebeaud on as he led off the six final runs. He repaid their fervent support with an Underflip Nac in 360 style and a repeat of his 540 Flair in the double-up. The performance was sufficient to put fifth-placed Remi Bizouard under pressure, but the Frenchman responded with a ‘massive’ Hart Attack Flip and Rulerflip. So Rebeaud was left to contemplate another sixth-place finish, but Bizouard was also to fall some way short of the podium. The fact that Australia’s Rob Adelberg also missed out on a Top Three finish was down to Maikel Melero’s triple combos plus Double Seatgrab Flip which the judges rewarded with third place.
So the battle for the win came down to a straight fight between Libor Podmol and Dany Torres. Libor executed a Seatgrab Supercan Flip, a TP Roll and a Surfer Tsunami Flip over the Kicker Ramp. Torres countered with a Paris Hilton, an Oxecutioner and a Lazyboy Flip to No Hand Landing over the 26-metre ramp. The decision went narrowly to Podmol, ensuring that he goes home with both winner’s trophies from the Swiss weekend.
Maikel Melero still leads the FMX World Championship standings on 74 points, but Podmol is breathing down his neck on 70 after these back-to-back wins. Dany Torres follows in third place (68 points).
The FIM Freestyle MX World Championship now enters a long summer break before resuming in September. Freestyle fans don’t have to wait that long, however, as the next major event takes place on 26th April 2014. That’s when the FMX superstars reconvene for NIGHT of the JUMPs in Munich’s Olympiahalle. Meanwhile, Swiss fans should make a note of the following date in their diaries: on the weekend of 10th/11th April 2015, the world’s top freestyle motocross riders will be returning to the Sankt Jakobshalle in Basel for another NIGHT of the JUMPs spectacular.