For the first time this season, a Russian name will appear on the bill as Red Bull rider Aleksey Koleshnikov digs deep into his repertoire to make it into the final round. Not an easy task in such a stellar field of riders. For a start, he is up against Josh Sheehan (AUS), the runaway winner of the last four NIGHT of the JUMPs events, whose presence guarantees a high-calibre battle of tricks with two-time world champion Remi Bizouard (FRA) and current championship leader Javier Villegas (CHL). And last year’s world championship runner-up Jose Miralles (ESP) is sure to have been swatting up on new stunts during the two-week break to aid his campaign.
The situation in the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship going into the Penza weekend is that Villegas on 86 points has a narrow lead over Bizouard on 82. Only four points behind in third place is Miralles.
But as NIGHT of the JUMPs in Munich showed, the young guns of David Rinaldo (FRA), Maikel Melero (ESP) and Petr Pilat (CZE) are always capable of muscling in on the final or even clinching a podium. And the quality of tricks that these boys pull out is enough to put the top names under considerable pressure.
In the first outdoor competition of the season, however, the experience of old hands Bianconcini Massimo (ITA), Fabian Bauersachs (GER) and Lukas Weis (GER) could stand them in good stead, as they are always up for a tough fight. And their ability to conjure up new tricks was demonstrated in convincing fashion recently when Bianconcini performed a Cliffhanger Flip and Weis pulled off a massive 360-Style Underflip.
A big question mark still hangs over reigning World Champion Libor Podmol: the Czech broke a couple of ribs in the last World Championship meet in Basle but is doing his very best to avoid writing off the second half of the season in his title defence.
Romain Izzo (FRA) and Hannes Ackermann (GER) complete the starting field for the NIGHT of the JUMPs / FIM Freestyle MX World Championship in Russia. And surprises are in store, as Izzo proved with his final run in Munich and Ackermann with his Tsunami Flip.
Will rounds 6 and 7 of the World Championship result in a shake-up at the top of the standings, and will Josh Sheehan continue to dominate as he makes his debut in Russia? The fans in Penza can look forward to high drama and a display of the toughest freestyle motocross tricks in the world.