The fifth round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championships returned to the Shenzhen Sports Center in China on Friday for the first of two rounds of competition at the 2017 season finale. With a big outdoor course, screaming Chinese fans and all the riders fired up to do battle, the stage was set for one hell of a contest.
Photography credit: NIGHT of the JUMPs
Ten riders from six nations competed in the penultimate round of the FMX World Championships, however it was the showdown between the three-time reigning World Champion and current points leader Maikel Melero (ESP) and his rival Libor Podmol (CZE) that everyone was eagerly awaiting to see. But first, both riders would need to survive the qualification round which didn’t go to plan for the Czech rider with some early nerves. With some mistakes in his run including a dead-sailor Backflip and not fully extending his surfer take off to Tsunami Flip, Libor was still able to qualify into the main event. The errors didn’t stop with Podmol either, Marc Pinyol had a bad day at the office with several problems and he could only come away with 10th place. Hannes Ackermann couldn’t put together the run he wanted, however still finished with a big Seat Grab backflip for his Double-Up. Newcomer Brayden Davies (AUS) premiered a very solid run with Seat Grab Backflips, a Clicker to SuperFlip combo and a host of other cool tricks, but unfortunately he was 2 seconds too slow to get full points for the Double Up, so was unable to make it to the final.
The pole position leading into the final was won with a flawless run by Maikel Melero. Melero had a clean run but without the flair, Cali-Roll or Double grab flip, he was able to leave some bigger tricks for the final. Luc Ackermann was the only rider to use the quarterpipe and it was enough for him to make it to the final. Petr Pilat, Libor Podmol and Leonardo Fini rounded out the top 6 who would move on to the final.
The final was now looking like it could be the decider for the World Championship and the 20,000 spectators in the Shenzhen Football Stadium were about to witness history in the making at the Freestyle MX World Championships.
Petr Pilat put together an incredible run in the double-double line, linking his special Candy Bar take off Flip to Side Saddle lander, and then continuing straight into the next ramp with a Side Saddle take off backflip into Candy Bar landing, all whilst taking his hands off mid-air. With such a technical use of the course, he displaced the Italian, Leo Fini from the hot seat. It wouldn’t be long until Pilat was also removed from the Hot Seat by his compatriot, Libor Podmol who showed a solid run and finishing with a California Roll on his Double-Up. The quick rotation on the hot seat continued when Rinaldo came out for his final run of the night. Rinaldo was absolutely ‘on fire’ after massive problems in training without barely practising any tricks. Rinaldo started his run with a Rock Solid Backflip and finished it with a California Roll which was an impressive comeback for the Frenchman who crashed in Shenzhen in 2016 and catapulted him to the Hot Seat.
The last rider in the final would receive a standing ovation from the local Chinese crowd. The little Spaniard delivered for the audience with tricks like the Lazy Boy Flip and California Roll. But Maikel kept his run safe and it appeared more like a triumphant ride, rather than fully attacking the course. He didn’t put together all of his biggest tricks, but it was enough to secure 3rd place on the podium and also secure his fourth World Championship title in a row. A feat nobody has ever done before and has now cemented his status as the most successful FMX athlete of all time at NIGHT of the JUMPs.
Luc Ackermann suffered some bad luck in the final when he couldn’t hold onto his Nac Nac 360 on the first jump, sliding down the landing and bending his handlebars which forced him to retire for the night. However his annoyance was only brief since he had only just won the Maxxis Highest Air Cup shortly before the final with 8.50 metres, after his was pushed by Brice Izzo to the final height.
David Rinaldo had a double celebration for the night, taking out the Rockwell Best Whip Trophy. In the Whip finale, the Frenchman outplayed his adversary Marc Pinyol who had to retire hurt and Rinaldo claimed his first Whip trophy in his NIGHT of the JUMPs career.
The Grand finale celebration will take place on Saturday at the last NIGHT of the JUMPs / FIM Freestyle MX World Championship in 2017.
NIGHT of the JUMPs/FIM Freestyle MX World Championship
Shenzhen, 10th November 2017 – Round 5
Results NIGHT of the JUMPs – Final
1. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 313 Points
2. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 313 Points
3. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 332 Points
4. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 293 Points
5. Leonardo Fini ITA OSK KTM 284 Points
6. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 10 Points
1. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 332 Points
2. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 313 Points
3. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 313 Points
4. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 313 Points
5. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 293 Points
6. Leonardo Fini ITA OSK KTM 284 Points
7. Brice Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 279 Points
8. Brayden Davies AUS MA Yamaha 270 Points
9. Hannes Ackermann GER DMSB KTM 205 Points
10. Marc Pinyol ESP RFME Kawasaki 168 Points
Rockwell Best Whip Contest
1. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha
2. Marc Pinyol ESP RFME Kawasaki
1. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 8,50 Meter
2. Brice Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 8,00 Meter
3. Brayden Davies AUS MA Yamaha 6,00 Meter
FIM Freestyle MX World Championship 2017
Ranking (after 5th contest)
1. Maikel Melero ESP RFME Yamaha 92 Points
2. Libor Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 73 Points
3. David Rinaldo FRA FFM Yamaha 55 Points
4. Pat Bowden AUS MA Yamaha 54 Points
5. Petr Pilat CZE ACCR KTM 53 Points
6. Dany Torres ESP RFME KTM 48 Points
7. Brice Izzo FRA FFM Yamaha 48 Points
8. Leonardo Fini ITA PZM KTM 47 Points
9. Marc Pinyol ESP RFME Yamaha 32 Points
10. Luc Ackermann GER DMSB Husqvarna 26 Points
11. Filip Podmol CZE ACCR Yamaha 24 Points
12. Remi Bizouard FRA FFM Kawasaki 14 Points
13. Kai Haase GER DMSB Suzuki 12 Points
14. Ryan Brown AUS MA Kawasaki 10 Points