Spectators were treated to some spectacular Maxxis Highest Air contests during the first half of the FIM Freestyle MX world championship season. Once again in 2015, overall standings and a world championship contest are a feature of the competition.
A humdinger of a battle has broken out this year between Spaniard Jose Miralles and Italian rider Bianconcini who has already won the competition several times; ‘El Loco’ Miralles leads Bianconcini by four points at the top of the rankings after the first half of the season.The Italian had to fight right from the start at the season opener in Berlin when Kai Haase almost clinched victory in front of a home crowd. But the Italian Stallion was able to catch the Berlin-based rider on both days with his final attempt to triumph with a 9.00 meter and a 9.50 meter jump.The Italian step-up king then had a really bad time in Maxxis Highest Air at the NIGHT of the JUMPs in Krakow. He cracked at the very first level and dropped out. So, Jose Miralles took his first win of the season just ahead of young German rider Luc Ackermann. But Bianconcini counterattacked on the second day in Poland and defeated the Spaniard with 8.00 meters to retain the lead in the overall standings for the moment.The two championship contenders ratcheted things up a fair few notches at the NIGHT of the JUMPs premiere in Tours, jumping higher and higher. They both easily bested 9.50 metres. However, the Italian failed twice at 10.00 meters, while Miralles conquered the hurdle to secure victory in Maxxis Highest Air at the French world championship grand prix. That enabled El Loco to gain ground on Bianco once again in the overall standings.The two world championship competitions in Switzerland took place without 2014 overall winner Bianconcini. Jose Miralles used the opportunity to the full and consigned fellow Spanish rider Melero to second place by jumping 9.00 metres. Jose Miralles did not initially look like he could win this Maxxis Highest Air contest when his attempt at jumping the opening height on the second day failed. He improved, however, beating Maikel Melero in a thrilling final. So, Miralles took the lead in the overall standings of the 2015 Maxxis Highest Air contest.However, the Italian X-Games silver medal winner struck back at the final competition of the first half of the season. Jose Miralles was a strong opponent, setting the bar ever higher to leave Massimo trailing for a time. But the Italian found a reply after a failed attempt to eventually win the competition with 9.00 metres. He was thus able to reduce the gap to four points in the overall standings, but Miralles is still top dog on 28 points. The second half to the season in Maxxis Highest Air during the 2015 NIGHT of the JUMPs now promises to be something really special.MAXXIS Highest Air 2015 Overall Ranking1: Jose Miralles, ESP KTM 28 Points 2: Massimo Bianconcini, ITA KTM 24 Points 3: Maikel Melero, ESP KTM 7 Points 4: Kai Haase, GER Suzuki 6 Points 5: Luc Ackermann, GER KTM 3 Points 6: Davide Rossi, ITA KTM 2 Points
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.