Villegas victorious twice
Chilean rider Javier Villegas struck again on Saturday to take Round 2 of the European Motorcycle Union's 2012 UEM Freestyle MX Championship series, after winning Round 1 on Friday. Both rounds were held at the Tips Arena in Linz, Austria, and once again the fight for the win came down to a head-to-head rivalry between Villegas and French rider Remi Bizouard, with Villegas edging him out 401 to 393 in the final points tally. Czech rider Petr Pilat took the third spot on the podium with a score of 381.
"As so often in recent months, the battle for the top podium spot was between reigning European champion Remi Bizouard and current world champion Javier Villegas," reports Oliver Franke, spokesman for the International Freestyle Motocross Federation. The IFMXF runs both the UEM Freestyle MX European Championships and the FIM Freestyle MX World Championships as part of its Night of the Jumps World Tour. "Neither was inclined to make any careless errors, and both were pulling out their best stunts. Ultimately it was Villegas who held the advantage, just as he had the day before. He thus increases his lead in the European Championship standings, but will be conscious of Bizouard breathing down his neck in second place."
Villegas' name has been popping up more and more in the years since he moved his family to California to focus on FMX world domination, and in a December interview with ESPN he said that his recent successes on the world stage are no fluke.
"Just to be the best in my country or the best in Latin America wasn't enough for me," Villegas said just before going on to clinch the 2011 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship title. "I wanted to be among the top riders in the world, and I knew that if I stayed in my place I wouldn't be challenged enough to get on top. I knew I needed to ride with the best riders in the world as often as I could if I wanted to be one of them."
He's among them now, and well on his way to claiming his first UEM Freestyle MX Championship title to go with his FIM title: The third and final round of the UEM series will be held on May 12 at the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany. Villegas now leads in the overall points tally with a perfect score of 40 points, followed by Bizouard (36), Spanish rider Jose Miralles (28), French rider Brice Izzo (24), and Pilat (24).
Javier Villegas topped the podium in Linz, Austria on Friday night, draped in a Chilean flag after firing the opening shot in the International Freestyle Motocross Federation's 2012 Night of the Jumps World Tour with a decisive win over French rider Remi Bizouard and Spanish rider Jose Miralles. The win gives Villegas an early lead in the three-round European Motorcycle Union's 2012 UEM Freestyle MX European Championships, which continue with Round 2 in Linz on Saturday night and conclude with Round 3 on May 12 in Mannheim, Germany.
Friday's finals also marked the latest chapter in the recent rivalry between Villegas and Bizouard, who traded spots on the podium throughout the 2011 Night of the Jumps World Tour. Bizouard won the three-round 2011 UEM Freestyle MX European Championship, which concluded in May, and Villegas beat Bizouard out to claim the International Motorcycle Federation's 2011 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship in December at the end of an eleven-round series.
"Once again, Remi Bizouard and Javier Villegas were in a different league," reports IFMXF spokesman Oliver Franke. "The two World Championship rivals from 2011 were locked in close combat in Linz, with Villegas edging it on the night."
Villegas finished first in Friday's qualification round at the Tips Arena in Linz, ahead of Australian rider Clinton Moore -- a newcomer to the IFMXF Night of the Jumps World Tour -- and Bizouard. In Friday's finals Villegas' score of 393 points topped Bizouard's 376 and Miralles' 360. Moore finished just off the podium with 351, ahead of Italian rider Massimo Bianconcini (331) and French rider Brice Izzo (327).
In one of the biggest surprises of the weekend, Moore landed a "Volt" body varial in finals, a version of the trick first seen in 2007 when Kyle Loza won the Moto X Best Trick competition at X Games 13. Consider the bar raised: Only a small handful of riders in the world have ever attempted body varial tricks, much less thrown them in competition runs.
The IFMXF Night of the Jumps World Tour has been helping to build an international fan base for freestyle motocross -- and helping grow the sport by introducing new international riders -- for more than a decade. Local athletes competing this weekend included Austrian riders Thomas Wirnsberger, who finished ninth in the qualification round, and Martin Schenk, who finished in twelfth place.