The MAXXIS Highest Air Contest at NIGHT of the JUMPs in Riga last Saturday could hardly have been more spectacular affair. Berlin’s Kai Haase and the Spanish duo of Jose Miralles and Maikel Melero were up against last year’s winner and all-time record holder Massimo Bianconcini.
With only three rounds remaining in the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship season, the contenders had everything to play for.
Bianconcini had already added four more winner’s trophies to his well-stocked Maxxis Highest Air cabinet in the run-up to Riga. Victory in the Latvian Grand Prix would have seen him crowned 2013 champion ahead of time. Haase, Melero and Miralles were determined to frustrate his ambition. Second-placed Miralles in particular was determined make up lost ground, but it wasn’t to be: although he cleared the 6.0-metre bar, he then flunked the 6.5m mark and was eliminated without adding even a single point to his account.
At this point, it was already clear that the Italian was going to widen the gap on his pursuers, especially as he was jumping with fluidity and leaving plenty of airspace between bike and bar. So the main question now was whether this was to be a competition-winning performance.
Melero, Haase and Bianconcini all cleared the 7.0-metre mark. The second of the two Spanish riders went out next, leaving Bianconcini and Haase to slog it out for victory on the night. Both went on through the 7.5-metre barrier, but the reigning and prospective champion stumbled at 7.8 metres. The young German comfortably cleared the bar to claim his third MAXXIS Highest Air win of the year, the other two being in Kaunas and his home city of Berlin.
This victory for Kai Haase puts him on level pegging with Miralles as the main challengers to Bianconcini for the rest of the campaign. The two of them have 16 points each, while Massimo continues to occupy the top spot on 23. This means that the result of the MAXXIS Highest Air Contest title chase has been deferred to the next outing at the earliest. Bianconcini could defend his title with a victory at NIGHT of the JUMPs which takes place at Liberec in a fortnight. Meanwhile, the only hope for Miralles and Haase is to keep on notching up outright wins.
NIGHT of the JUMPs/FIM Freestyle MX World Championships Riga, Oct. 26 Results:
MAXXIS Highest Air Riga
1. Kai Haase, GER, Suzuki, 7,80 Meters
2. Massimo Bianconcini, ITA, KTM, 7,50 Meters
3. Maikel Melero, ESP, KTM, 7,00 Meters
4. Jose Miralles, ESP, KTM, 6,00 Meters
MAXXIS Highest Air 2013 Overall Ranking
1. Massimo Bianconcini, ITA, KTM, 23 Points
2. Jose Miralles, ESP, KTM, 16 Points
3. Kai Haase, GER, Suzuki, 16 Points
4. Maikel Melero, ESP, KTM, 7 Points
5. Luc Ackermann, GER, KTM, 1 Points