2008 XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship Round 3: Pomona

Pomona marked the halfway point of the 2008 XDL season and it showed how, more and more, the series is exhibiting all the traits of a mainstream motorcycle sport: a solid field with a high level of competition, international participation, a five-way battle for the series championship, new talent, and even a formal protest by one of the competitors. We’ll have more on that later in the report.

With three events in the books the battle at the top of the national rankings is extremely close. Shift’s Alex Flores and Nick Brocha are tied for first with 115 points each, followed closely by Rick Hart, Bill Dixon and Red Bull rider Aaron Colton. But because of the “bye” system that allows athletes to drop their lowest score, the race is really more open than the ranking suggests, with eight riders still in solid contention for the title. Of course this assumes the top riders keep winning, and if they don’t the championship will start to open up even more.

13th place finisher Aaron Twite with one of the more spectacular acrobatic moves of the day, dismounting from his bike in a back flip
Red Bull rider Aaron Colton working on his routine in practice
Individual Freestyle winner Nick Brocha

Round 3 took place on the hallowed asphalt of the NHRA drag strip, offering the riders some of the best traction of the season. XDL organizers moved the competition to the drag strip after the proposed parking lot location posed some safety issues. As a result, Friday practice was rescheduled for Saturday morning. The weather was hot, but unlike Nashville a few weeks ago, it wasn’t humid and a steady breeze helped cool down the competitors. Several top riders took a bye at Pomona due to injury or transportation issues, including Chris McNeil, Ernie Vigil, Joe Dryden, Luke Emmons and Dan Jackson.

Qualifying served up no major surprises and Aaron Colton, back to his regular form, earned the bonus point by taking the top spot. In the main event Colton thought he had the competition covered for his first win of the season but ended up a disappointing third.

“After qualifying and after riding (my run) I thought I was going to win it,” says Colton. “I’m not trying to be like a Mladin here or anything and complain about everything, but when I heard the results I felt like I got royally shafted.”

XDL is a judged sport and as with every other judged sport competitors disagree with the results from time to time. Colton filed a protest and video of the run is being reviewed to see if any changes are merited.

Alex Flores, who predicted a Pomona win after Nashville, couldn’t deliver but still leaves tied for first in the championship.

“I had a little crash in practice at the spot last night and had to replace the whole stator cover and that always messes with your head, but that is no excuse,” says Flores. “I just need to ride harder next time. I’m happy with the results. Fourth isn’t bad. I’m still in the points chase.”

Flores is expecting a better performance in Indianapolis.

“I’m bringing everything I’ve got,” says Flores. ”I’m going to train all month and ride my best.”

Florida resident Bill Dixon repeated his solid second place finish from Nashville, putting him in the thick of the points chase.

“I came here, drove 2,600 miles so I wanted to do well enough to pay for the trip,” says Dixon on his expectations for Pomona.

Despite the solid finish, it was far from an easy day for Dixon.

 “I had a tire problem and I don’t know why…I definitely could have rode better,” says Dixon.

Dixon added to his paycheck by also taking Target Stoppie by less than three tenths of a second, one of the closest finishes in XDL history.

“It is a timed event so you have to go fast everywhere you are not doing a stoppie,” says Dixon. “I do my stoppies as low as I can to keep my speed up and hit all my points.”

Nick Brocha came back from a tough Nashville outing to take his second win of the year.

“I was so disappointed with how I rode at Nashville…Which was good because then I did what I always do,” says Brocha. “I get mad, I go home and I ride every day for hours and hours in the 106 degree Vegas heat. So my expectation was to come here and do well.

“Well as in first? Maybe not. But well as in top 5. Top 5 is always my goal. Its not like you can look at this field and think anything other than, “success is being in the top 5”. All the top 5 competitors are friends first, incredibly gifted riders second and most importantly the people that can hand me my a_ _ at any second.”

As if winning the main wasn’t enough, Brocha also took Circle Challenge by breaking Andy Niles’ win streak.

“Any time I make money I’m ecstatic, but beating Andy Niles in Circle Challenge is something I thought I would never do.”

Nick Hernandez took Sickest Trick with a seven hit acrobatic combo that went from one end of the track to the other.

“On a scale from 1 to 10 I thought I rode about a 6,” says Hernandez. “What was going through my head was that I wanted to win something. I figured that would be my best chance to do it. I’m surprised I pulled it off…I was a little bit wobbly.”

Pomona saw the emergence of some promising talent in the form of Arizona’s Jeromy Spann who finished 14th, high enough to vault him into 17th in the national rankings. We also saw Japanese rider Shin Kinoshita pull off possibly the best crash recovery ever. He went over the handlebars in the warm up to his Individual Freestyle run and as if that wasn’t enough, the throttle stuck on his bike and it continued in a circle, scraping the asphalt, back to where he had crashed, where he does an impression of a rodeo rider and picks the bike back up and starts his run.

Now the focus is on Indy, the biggest event of the year. All injured riders expect to be there fully recovered, nobody will be taking a bye and everyone will be practicing hard leading up to the event. For complete XDL results and too keep up with the series, visit XDLshow.com

Individual Freestyle top five from left to right: Alex Flores (4th), Lin Eshalom (5th), Bill Dixon (2nd), Nick Brocha (1st), Aaron Colton (3rd)

Related Reading
2008 XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship Round 1: New York
2008 XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship Round 2: Nashville

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