The final two runs of the FMF Cup contest featured Shin Kinoshita (above, second from right) from Japan and the reigning champion, factory Yamaha rider Dixon, exhibiting two completely different styles that were equally exciting because they combined speed, fluidity, innovation, athleticism and aggression into a cohesive two-minute package. Both runs left the audience awestruck. Dixon took the win and Kinoshita was a close second for his best-ever XDL finish.
Kinoshita said that he started feeling confident after the first practice sessions, when he realized he was on a good bike.
"This was the first time I had a good bike to ride in a long time," he said, "and I built more and more confidence as the event went on."
Nick Brocha (above, second from left) and Luke Emmons (above, right) finished third and fourth, respectively, keeping their title hopes alive. Ernie Vigil (above, left), who has been prone to injury the last three seasons, was fifth, and he also took second in the K&N Circle Challenge, recording his strongest weekend at XDL in more than a year.
The K&N Circle Challenge was again a close-fought contest that saw longtime favorites Aaron Twite and Ernie Vigil (above, foreground) make it into the finals. Among the K&N Circle Challenge specialists who took an early exit were Lin Eshalom and Shin Kinoshita.
The Aprilia All-Star Challenge was decided in the wet, and, once again, rain specialist Eric Pettit (left) took the win, turning this championship into a heated three-way battle among himself, Dixon and Dan Jackson.
The Sartso Women's Cup saw its largest field of competitors to date, and was also contested in the rain. Alie De Fresco from New Jersey took the win and qualified herself for the finals in Indy. In fact, rain was a constant theme throughout the weekend. The entire city of Nashville had flooded only two weeks prior to this event, and rain hit again on both Friday and Saturday, with several hailstorm and flash-flood warnings issued.
As always, the Speed & Strength Sickest Trick competition capped off the weekend, and it was once again a showcase for the rapid progression of tricks in the sport. Dixon stole the show with a big, fast trick. He performed a switchback stoppie that started 400 feet outside the competition area so that by the time he was passing under the Red Bull arch, he was already at about 70mph. The speed with which Dixon executed the trick really let the audience feel the danger involved and made everyone tense. It was everything a "sick" trick had to be, and a perfect way to finish the competition.
Now it's on to Los Angeles, where on June 18 and 19 the riders will contest round four of the XDL Championship Series at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California.
XDL can be followed online at www.xdlshow.com.
FMF CUP FINAL: 1. Bill Dixon (153.5); 2. Shinsuke Kinoshita (148.5); 3. Nick Brocha (134.0); 4. Luke Emmons (127.5); 5. Ernie Vigil (123.5).
APRILIA ALL-STAR CHALLENGE: 1. Eric Pettit (26.37 sec.); 2. Dan Jackson (27.84 sec.); 3. Bill Dixon (28.31 sec.)
K&N CIRCLE CHALLENGE: 1. Aaron Twite; 2. Ernie Vigil; 3. Andrew Griffy.
SPEED & STRENGTH SICKEST TRICK: 1. Bill Dixon; 2. Joe Dryden; 3. Aaron Twite.
SARTSO WMN CUP: 1. Alie De Fresco (63); 2. Leah Peterson (59); 3. Brandy Delosier (50); 4. Britney Shaara (39).
FREESTYLE BURNOUT: 1. Joe Dryden; 2. Luke Emmons; 3. Randy Callicoat.
TEAM BATTLE: 1. Death Squad (Nick Brocha/Ernie Vigil/Shin Kinoshita/Lin Eshalom) (25); 2. Curb Stompers (Brian Bubash/Aaron Colton/Dan Jackson/Ryan Suchaneck/Patrick Matthews) (22); 3. Ninjets (Alie De Fresco/Leah Peterson) (16).
By: Randy Grube
Photography By: David Avila