2012 was a breakthrough year for Luke Emmons, showing that he could beat the best in the world, on any surface, on any size area. At Round 2 in Long Beach Emmons took the XDL Cup win over Bill Dixon of the U.S. and Rafal Pasierbek of Europe, making a convincing statement. At the XDL Finals in PORTLAND, he took his second win, solidly establishing himself in the world elite, as a two-time winner in 2012. In fact Emmons only missed the 2012 XDL Cup title by 3 points, the slimmest of margins. It makes you wonder what if…? What if Emmons had completed his first run in DC after he dropped his bike? What if Bill Dixon’s bike had broken 3 seconds later in his first run in ABQ? What if Emmons had captured a couple extra bonus points? Emmons didn’t seem to spend much time second-guessing the season, seeming more content with the win than dwelling on the fact that the championship could have been won had it not been for a few little things. And it is clear that Emmons, along with Bill Dixon, Nick Brocha and Rafal Pasierbek now represent the elite quartet that any rider has to beat if he wants to make a run at the championship.
Yamaha’s Bill Dixon for his part, won the war, by securing his 4th straight XDL Cup Championship and putting him in a league of his own. At the XDL Finals in PORTLAND Dixon admitted that he didn’t have the opportunity to train as hard as he would have liked to for the 2012 season, but that he will come out guns blazing in 2013 to go for a 5th straight title. Clearly he hasn’t lost his desire to win. As for his future plans, Dixon stated that he’d like to lay claim to one more title, then maybe become a guest judge and if anyone every breaks his record of championship wins, he’d come out of retirement to win another to retain his record.
The big surprise at the XDL Finals in PORTLAND was BMW’s Chris McNeil who took second overall in XDL Cup and won the Racing 905 Sickest Trick. At the beginning of the weekend it didn’t look like McNeil would even qualify. His bike woes from Albuquerque continued, as he spent almost two days completely disassembling both his S1000RRs to troubleshoot the problem. By the time qualifying rolled around McNeil had to borrow Luke Emmons’ bike just to make the show. He said that riding the 600 didn’t feel that differently from riding his 1000 in this instance, because the last time he rode the 1000 competitively was in Albuquerque, where the altitude was 6,500 feet, making his 1000 feel like a 600. By Saturday McNeil had identified a faulty wiring harness as the source of his problems and managed to start the XDL Cup Main Event with a perfectly purring BMW. He tore up the big area in Portland with his high-speed, aggressive style and took full advantage of the power of his 1000. McNeil, as did every other rider, commented that the surface in Portland was better than anything else this season, making it a dream to go out and compete. It definitely seems that in a big area, Chris McNeil is a constant threat for the win, making him a dark horse for the 2013 championship.
Just like Chris McNeil, ICON rider Ernie Vigil is one of those guys that likes to give his Triumph a lot of gas. The big, wide area and the smooth surface let Vigil bring all his talents to the fore, putting down a blazing display of high-speed riding. Vigil receives the unofficial record for highest lean angle during any stunt and outshone the competition in his favorite discipline, the Motul Drift Battle. XDL applied the successful format developed in Indy and went with a head-to-head drift race around a pre-determined course that saw a lot of bumping, sliding and smoke.
Luke Emmons is the new favorite in the Yamaha Generators Wheelie race, after winning the first and last rounds with his head-on, intimidating style. Based on the rules for 2012, a rider can leave his lane on the return leg, and can pass both cones at the turn around point. Emmons has developed a high-speed technique whereby he comes blazing around his cone leaned over and rides a wide arc past the second cone before he turns towards the finish line. This allows him to maintain a higher speed, and it also intimidates oncoming riders.
The K&N Circle Challenge once again went to Bill Dixon, who has managed to develop a spinning technique that allows him to accelerate after about 5 rotations. His rival in the final pairing, Chris McNeil, was ahead after 5 turns, but as McNeil started going wider, Dixon started going tighter and speeding up for a come-from-behind win.
Portland put an exclamation mark on a tough and hard-fought 2012 XDL season, with a large, appreciative and diverse crowd, as well as the finest area XDL has ever competed on. Stay tuned to XDL’s social media outlets to find out when the latest video clips from the season will be posted.
1. Luke Emmons; 2. Chris McNeil; 3. Bill Dixon; 4. Ernie Vigil; 5. Aaron Colton
K&N Circle Challenge
1. Bill Dixon; 2. Chris McNeil; 3. Luke Emmons
Racing 905 Sickest Trick
1. Chris McNeil
Motul Drift Battle
1. Ernie Vigil; 2. Bill Dixon; 3. Josh Borne
Yamaha Generators Wheelie Race
1. Luke Emmons; 2. Ernie Vigil; 3. Hiroyuki Ogawa
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XDL is the only championship of its kind and is a leader in reaching the 18-34 old sportbike demographic. Each XDL event features the world’s most skilled athletes squaring off in five unique competitions for over $10,000 in prize money. Since its inception in 2006 the series has built a global following in places as far off as India, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia, France, Thailand and Eastern Europe, and in the process emerged as the fastest growing action sport in America.