Over Labor Day weekend the XDL Championship Series made its first-ever trip to the newly re-named NAPA Speedway just outside Albuquerque, NM. NAPA was added as a venue for 2012 because it had built a reputation among professional riders as a big and fast venue, and with the addition of new formats such as the Motul Drift Battle and the surge in motorcycle drifting, this was the right track at the right time. The size of the facility also made it possible to run three days of free ride sessions in conjunction with the XDL Pro program, giving amateurs and pros a chance to intermingle, and in the process creating a very relaxed vibe that contributed to some of the best riding of the season.
Hometown hero and ICON rider Ernie Vigil put his factory Triumph on top early by taking the number one qualifying spot with a blistering run. Vigil commented that the free riding environment took away the normal stress of a competition and really helped settle down his nerves. And riding in front of a hometown crowd gave him extra desire to do well. It was almost enough for a top overall finish and ultimately landed Ernie in the third spot.
Rafal Pasierbek of Poland, who had been a top contender through the first three rounds had returned to Europe to fulfill prior obligations and was no longer a factor in the championship, so the battle for the top spot came down to Yamaha‘s Bill Dixon and Racing 905’s Luke Emmons. But for a while it looked like the showdown might not even happen. Emmons had qualified second and Dixon third to set the stage, but in the morning warm up the three-time XDL Champion damaged his motor, setting off a frantic effort to rebuild it in less than three and a half hours. Dixon made the start time deadline, but less than 30 seconds into the run, the bike started spitting oil all over the track. It looked like terminal engine failure and hours of work had gone to waste. Even worse, if the engine was destroyed, Dixon would score no points, making it difficult to win a fourth title. But the reigining champ was lucky on two counts. First, the engine hadn’t blown, the oil drain plug hadn’t been properly secured, causing it to fall off and letting the oil drain out. Second, the incident occurred less than 30 seconds into the run. The rule in this incident is that the rider is allowed to take a mechanical if something goes wrong with the bike in the first 30 seconds of a run. And he has until 5 minutes after the last rider goes to re-do the run. Dixon completed a quick trackside oil change and made the deadline to get in his first run. Even with all the extra stress, Dixon managed to take second in the round, with Emmons winning it. Round two was less eventful but significantly, Dixon won it ahead of Emmons. Based on the rules, both riders scored a first and second. But Dixon’s 2-1 scored higher than Emmons’ 1-2, because the second round acts as the tie-breaker. For Emmons, Round 4 was frustrating because in his words he out-rode Dixon in qualifying and Round 1, but still lost. Dixon on the other hand felt like he had been blessed that weekend, because if the oil drain plug had stayed in just a few seconds longer, it would have ended his run and the event. The XDL Cup championship now comes down to the finals in Portland where Dixon has to finish ahead of Emmons to take the title.
Riders are getting ready for the final round of the XDL Championdhip Series which will be in Portland Oregon.
In other action, Albuquerque finally provided a large venue for the Motul Drift Battle and for the first time the athletes were able to unleash speed and power for an awesome show. In fact drifting was a common theme throughout the event and many riders put a little bit of drifting into their XDL Cup run. The grand finale was a Motul Drift Show in which Bill Dixon and Ernie Vigil brought out their dedicated drift bikes and performed with a drift car. Being able to ride at high speeds and having the space to go all out made for an amazing spectacle never seen at XDL before.
Albuquerque brought out a whole crop of local athletes and Matt Thomlison represented for the home team by taking the win in the Racing 905 Sickest Trick with a Truffle Shuffle. Bill Dixon put an exclamation mark on the weekend for himself by winning both the K&N Circle Challenge and the Yamaha Generators Wheelie Race.
Next up are the XDL Finals at Portland International Raceway on September 14 & 15. Tickets are on sale at www.xdlshow.com and a 50% discount is available by entering “GO XDL” in the discount code box.
1. Bill Dixon; 2. Luke Emmons; 3. Ernie Vigil; 4. Hiroyuki Ogawa; 5. Rick Hart
K&N Circle Challenge
1. Bill Dixon; 2. Aaron Twite; 3. Nick Karipis
Racing 905 Sickest Trick
1. Matthew Thomlison
Motul Drift Battle
1. Bill Dixon; 2. Ernie Vigil; 3. Aaron Colton
Yamaha Generators Wheelie Race
1. Bill Dixon; 2. Luke Emmons; 3. Aaron Twite