2011 Night Of Jumps Kept Sofia Roaring With Excitement

Twelve riders from seven countries laid on an incredible spectacle in front of 10,000 spectators at the 2011 Night of the Jumps Sofia, a show that had even the Bulgarian prime minister on the edge of his seat.

Night of the Jumps 2011 Sofia.  Photo: Oliver Franke / NOTJ.de The world’s leading exponents of FMX gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria for the last Night of the Jumps event of the 2011 season. The stellar event was held at the ARMEEC Arena, where the destination of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship title would be decided.

The highlight of the evening was to be the big clash between title rivals Remi Bizouard (FRA) and Javier Villegas (CHI). The crowd were already whipped up into frenzy during the qualifying round, which inspired maximum performance from the riders.

Debutant James Carter (USA) dug deep to perform incredible Ruler Flips and Scorpion Combos that took him into the Top 10 but still fell short of the standard produced by the six finalists.

Also missing out at this stage was Libor Podmol who took a tumble on his very first trick and was unable to continue. The German duo also progressed no further than the first round: Fabian Bauersachs had a good run, but could finish no higher than tenth, and unlucky Hannes Ackermann had no preparation time, as his bike and equipment arrived only at the very last minute.

The two Frenchman Brice Izzo and David Rinaldo were also unable to convince the judges of their case to be included in the final – this despite Rinaldo’s Airplane and Superman Seatgrab Flip. So the finalists on this occasion were Massimo Bianconcini (ITA), Jose Miralles (ESP), Petr Pilat (CZE) and Maikel Melero (ESP) plus the two title aspirants, Javier Villegas and Remi Bizouard. Jose Miralles won the final Race & Style contest of the season.

Fellow Spaniard Melero triumphed in the Maxxis Highest Air, recording a jump of 7.1 metres. The first rider out on track for the deciding round was Massimo Bianconcini. Italy’s grand master delighted the crowd with a brand new trick – a Double 9 O’Clock Combo – and will no doubt have been satisfied with his sixth place on the night.

Miralles also showed off a new combo consisting of Stalefish to Double Can Can Flip. Although he finished the event in fifth, the result was good enough to secure him the bronze medal in the overall standings. Red Bull rider Petr Pilat put in a really good run to take P4 in Sofia and to score enough points to finish eighth overall in the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship.

Maikel Melero, who had already received the Rookie of the Year Award before the proceedings began, confirmed himself a worthy winner of the accolade with a perfect final run, including Double Seatgrab Flip, that steered him to third place in the Bulgarian Grand Prix and fourth in the overall standings.

Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for – the confrontation between Javier Villegas and Remi Bizouard. Villegas laid on a tour de force ranging from Suicide Backlip Lockback to Tsunami Flip. Bizouard countered with Ruler, Cliffhanger and Hart Attack Flip, ending his sideshow with a Sidesaddle Landing. The Frenchman prevailed once again – his fourth triumph in a row – but Villegas had built up such a substantial points cushion that he comfortably took the title.

The new champion looked truly delighted as he was handed the huge trophy and, looking back over the season as a whole, he is a worthy winner. The Chilean’s victory also represents a first in the FMX World Championship, with all previous titles having gone to European contestants. The world’s most extreme freestyle motocross series now enters its Christmas break. The new season starts on the weekend of 20th/21st January with the Night of the Jumps in Linz, Austria.

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