The world’s top FMX riders assembled in Riga for NIGHT of the JUMPs and the eighth round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship.
Since 2007, Arena Riga has been the regular venue for the Latvian Freestyle Motocross World Championship Grand Prix.
There were two surprises in the starting field with the inclusion of Brice Izzo (FRA) and Rob Adelberg (AUS). The Frenchman was returning to the World Championship fray after a serious fall in the summer. Meanwhile, the Australian was making his first appearance at the NIGHT of the JUMPS since 2010. Both put in a decent performance in qualifying to book places in the final round.
The audience gasped with anxiety when Hannes Ackermann (GER) failed to reconnect with his bike after his Flintstone and made a hard landing. The fall seemed to affect the confidence of his friend, David Rinaldo, who crashed into the barrier after one of his tricks. Although the championship leader from France was able to continue, he immediately registered a dead sailor. With that, his chances of progressing to the final were zero, but even worse, so were his prospects of retaining the championship lead, as Podmol had already made it through. The Spanish duo of Maikel Melero and Jose Miralles and Czech rider Petr Pilat completed the Top Six.
Although Germany’s Kai Haase was a lowly ninth, he had the consolation of winning the Rockwell Watch Best Whip Contest. But his evening then got even better over the course of a thrilling battle with Massimo Bianconcini in the Maxxis Highest Air Contest. The Italian was in great form but ultimately stumbled at the 7.8-metre mark. The German rider had no such problem and claimed his third victory of the year in the high jump event.
The 7,300 spectators then experienced a tense and exciting finale. Jose Miralles pulled out all his tricks but had to concede defeat to Izzo in the battle for fifth place. In his first engagement since injury, the Frenchman is back to his former self and even included a Tsunami Flip.
Red Bull rider Petr Pilat reeled off an incredible flip package with plenty of landing and take-off tricks, missing out on a podium by only the narrowest of margins. Maikel Melero pulled off a Double Seatgrab Flip in the double-up to secure second place at the expense of Libor Podmol. But the podium for the Czech ace was still good enough to take him to the top of the world championship standings – a win on the evening would have obviously been even better for his title challenge.
However, there was only one man who deserved outright victory in the Latvian NIGHT of the JUMPs Grand Prix, and that was Rob Adelberg. The Australian performed perfect Tsunami and Cliffhanger flips plus a Superman Indy to Clicker Flip combo.
The next round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship takes place in a fortnight (November 8th) when the contestants travel to Liberec for the Czech Grand Prix in the context of NIGHT of the JUMPs.