Maikel Melero wins NIGHT of the JUMP's World Cup season opener just ahead of Luc Ackermann
Basel, January 27, 2018: On Saturday the kick-off of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship 2018 took place in Basel. 10 riders from six nations competed in the St. Jakobshalle at the NIGHT of the JUMPs.
The winter break saw some of the extreme athletes make the decision to change rides, seeing Libor Podmol (CZE) move over to Husqvarna, while Brice Izzo (FRA) mixed things up by bringing the 4-stroke Kawasaki instead of his usual ride of the 2-stroke Yamaha. While Libor seemed to have gotten used to the new bike and comfortably made it to compete in the final, Brice had some minor difficulties adjusting to the new ride and unfortunately missed out on entering the finals altogether.
Petr Pilat (CZE) and Marc Pinyol (ESP) returned to the NIGHT of the JUMPs track after struggling with prolonged injuries. Although they demonstrated some solid runs, it was not enough to move on to the next round. Leonardo Fini (ITA) was also struggling with a cold from the start, which prevented him from Qualifying and moving on to the next round.
Pat Bowden (AUS) brought out his best NIGHT of the JUMP Qualification Round yet..
In addition to a Rock Solid Flip, he also brought out a Cliffhanger Flip with some incredible extension, which saw him fly in to second place in the preliminary round.
The four-time reigning World Champion Maikel Melero (ESP) was unruffled by the other riders‘ swagger. With his usual spectacular run, he secured the pole position for the final, and was joined by David Rinaldo (FRA), Remi Bizouard (FRA) and Luc Ackermann (GER). The German fought his way to the final despite making a mistake, plus a crash when he threw down unexpected miniflip.
Afterwards Pat Bowden and David Rinaldo in the Rockwell Best Whip battled to the utmost. One by one the destroyed the other opponents and delivered a spectacular Whip final. With the fattest whips Rinaldo ever showed at the NIGHT of the JUMPs, he ultimately won the Rockwell Trophy.
The first Maxxis Highest Air Contest of the year became the duel between Massimo Bianconcini and Brice Izzo. Up to 8.00 both riders were in lockstep,. but when Massimo mastered the 8.50 meters, the Frenchman could not step up to the mark.
Eventually the finale was on the program, and the spectators in the almost sold-out St. Jakobshalle literally whipped the riders into a frenzy with their cheers. Spurred on by the atmosphere and excitement, Remi busted out the Volt in Double Up. Libor attemped to counter this move by bringing out a California Roll, but it was not enough to displace the firmly embedded Remi from the Hotseat.
Third out in the final was the 20-year-old German Luc Ackermann, embodying the term ‘On Fire‘, with the Surfer Tsunami Flip, Long Distance Nac 360, the most massive Indy Ruler Flip, a perfect Flair and yet another miniflip,which he had crashed out on in the preliminary round. When he added to this the California Roll in the Double Up, the audience couldn’t contain their excitement. The judges rewarded this by heaving him up into the hotseat.
David Rinaldo was clearly impressed with Luc's run, but when it was his turn to ride he had three minor mistakes, which relegated him down to 6th place. Even Pat Bowden could not displace Luc from the top spot. He showed off his unbelievably extended tricks like the Hartattackflip, Ruler Flip, Doublegrab Flip and the Cliffhanger Flip. A gear lever error would mean near destruction when he left the ramp in first gear and only just landed on the table top of the landing ramp, unfortunately this error saw him fall back into fifth place.
Then came the reigning World champion, who also suffered from first event nerves. However, he was able to compensate for his Flip-Deadsailor and clawed his way back with a Cali Roll to 1-hand lander , and iced the cake with a Nac Flair. With a thin margin of nine points he was able to take down the win at the first World Championship race of the year, ahead of Luc Ackermann. Will we see Maikel Melero be World Champion for the fifth time in 2018, or will the youngster from Germany finally claw his way onto the throne and unseat the four-time world Champion?
It will be fascinating to see how things pan out over the next three weeks, when the next championship round points will be awarded. The FMX athletes will meet once more at the NIGHT of the JUMPs in Berlin (16/17 February 2018 - Mercedes Benz Arena), with Maikel Melero and Luc Ackermann leading from the front.