French rider Remi Bizouard won the final stop of the 2011 FIM Freestyle MX World Championships on Saturday at the Sofia Arena in Sofia, Bulgaria, beating out Chilean rider Javier Villegas and Spanish rider Maikel Melero to make it four in a row as the international series concluded, but it wasn't enough to catch Villegas in the overall points race for the championship title.
"I wish I had won today, but hey, it doesn't matter," Villegas told 2010 FIM champ Libor Podmol in a webcast interview after claiming his first championship trophy. "So tell me, when do the houses and the cars and the money start coming?"
It didn't matter because Villegas' run in Sofia was a victory lap: After making the podium in all but one event in his first full year competing in the International Freestyle Motocross Federation (IFMXF) Night of the Jumps world tour and FIM Freestyle MX World Championships, Villegas' overall points lead on the tour (192-175 heading into Sofia) was untouchable once he'd made the cut to qualify for Saturday's finals.
That didn't stop him from throwing down, however. His run in Sofia started off with a huge Superman double seat grab before launching into a backflip Indian air seat grab, a cliffhanger, a Pastrana air to no-hand landing, a backflip Indian air, a backflip nac-nac, a backflip tsunami, a backflip cordova, and a stylish nac-nac. On his final double-up trick he landed a laid-back suicide backflip to no-hand landing, bringing the sold-out crowd in Sofia to its feet.
Villegas's second place finish in Sofia left him with 210 total points from the twelve events eligible for points in the 2011 FIM Freestyle MX World Championships, ahead of Bizouard (195) and Spanish rider Jose Miralles (158). Villegas won the FIM event in Riga, Italy in October. He also racked up a total of eight second-place finishes and two third-place finishes on this year's tour.
"When I started the FIM series at the beginning of the year my goal was just to be on the podium as much as I could," Villegas told ESPN.com, in a profile interview featured earlier this week. "I wasn't expecting to be on top of the podium, much less win the championships! I just wanted to make finals at every event and give it my best, but I've been working for years to be here and now I feel like I've finally got my chance."
Bizouard, the 2008 and 2009 champion, says he's happy to have finished the year strong with wins at the final stops of the tour. In addition to his win in Sofia on Saturday, Bizouard won two rounds in Gdansk, Poland in November and the round in Ostrava, Czech Republic, also in November. He also won the first event of the series, in Turin, Italy in February, but didn't fare as well in the middle of the season.
"I'm very emotional," Bizouard said in a webcast interview after Saturday's competition. "It was a long year, but I'm very happy. I'm really happy for Javier and Jose, and I hope next year I will be on the podium again. It's going to be good."