This coming Saturday, fans in Bulgaria will witness the final showdown of the 2013 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship when 11 freestyle motocross riders line up for NIGHT of the JUMPs at Arena Armeec in Sofia.
They will be competing for the last batch of points to be awarded in this year’s FMX World Championship and to have a say in the destination of the 2013 title. The battle for gold has come down to a straight fight between David Rinaldo (FRA) and Libor Podmol (CZE).
Rinaldo currently leads the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship on 143 points, with Podmol breathing down his neck in second place, just a single point behind. However, the rules of the competition also factor in a rider’s so-called ‘scratch score’.
When this is brought into the equation, the Frenchman has a lead of six points, i.e. Rinaldo’s messed-up routine in Riga resulted in nine points being ‘scratched’, but Podmol’s total of 14 points is even higher. In consequence, the Czech ace has to ensure that he finishes three places ahead of the current leader.
Podmol will therefore be going all out for the win, pulling every trick out of the bag and hoping that the other contestants can do him some favours. Fortunately from his perspective, Dany Torres has reported back for duty. After sitting out several rounds due to serious injury, he is once again entering the fray.
In recent practice sessions, he has looked to be on top of his game, and he will be intent on impressing the judges on Saturday, with a P5 finish to the season still a realistic target.
Brice Izzo (FRA) and Maikel Melero (ESP) will likewise be going at full throttle, because they are involved in their own private battle for the third-place trophy. Izzo holds the stronger hand on 107 points, with Melero in fourth on 91. Melero has, however, been known to cause an upset, most notably in the previous round of the championship in Liberec (Czech Republic) when his Doublegrab Flip secured him victory on the night.
The current campaign came to a premature end for 2012 world champion Remi Bizouard when he injured himself earlier in the season. Although the Frenchman has no chance of appearing on the championship podium this year, he will be looking to make amends for his poor showing in Liberec where he managed only a single trick in qualifying. He now needs to convince the organisers that he is a serious candidate for next year’s competition.
Meanwhile, for Jose Miralles (ESP), Hannes Ackermann (GER) and Massimo Bianconcini (ITA), Saturday will be all about finishing the season in the Top Eight and thereby strengthening their claim for inclusion in the 2014 starting line-up. The field of riders for Sofia is completed by Germany’s Kai Haase who is currently placed eleventh in the world championship table and has little or no chance of making it into the Top Ten.
The Maxxis Highest Air contest is now just a question of who takes the runner-up spot, as Massimo Bianconcini (ITA) on 23 points can no longer be caught. Jose Miralles and Kai Haase are equal second on 16 points, so they will each fancy their chances of taking the silver medal.
Whatever the outcome, fans in Sofia and watching at home are assured of a spectacular showdown as the eleven top riders in this year’s FMX World Championship go head to head.
1. David Rinaldo (FRA)
2. Libor Podmol (CZE)
3. Brice Izzo (FRA)
4. Maikel Melero (ESP)
5. Petr Pilat (CZE)
6. Dany Torres (ESP)
7. Jose Miralles (ESP)
8. Remi Bizouard (FRA)
9. Hannes Ackermann (GER)
10. Massimo Bianconcini (ITA)
11. Kai Haase (GER)
FIM Freestyle MX World Championships Ranking (after 9th contest)
1. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 143 points
2. Libor Podmol CZR ACCR Yamaha 142 points
3. Brice Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 107 points
4. Maikel Melero ESP RFME KTM 91 points
5. Petr Pilat CZR ACCR KTM 89 points
6. Dany Torres ESP RFME KTM 84 points
7. Jose Miralles ESP RFME KTM 80 points
8. Remi Bizouard FRA FFM Kawasaki 77 points
9. Hannes Ackermann GER DMSB KTM 67 points
10. Massimo Bianconcini ITA PZM KTM 64 points
11. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 43 points
12. Rob Adelberg AUS MA Yamaha 36 points
13. Clinton Moore AUS MA Yamaha 22 points
14. Gabriel Villegas CHL FMC KTM 16 points
15. Martin Koren CZE ACCR KTM 15 points
For additional information, visit NIGHToftheJUMPs.com.