The Madrid stop of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour is rich with history. Twelve previous events in the illustrious Las Ventas bullring have witnessed stellar performances by the world's best in freestyle motocross. As Spain's Dany Torres and Switzerland's Mat Rebeaud look to win here again on June 27, they both have a not-so-secret weapon: each relies on his father as his mechanic.
As every Red Bull X-Fighters contender knows, Friday's event in Madrid is critically important. Not only is it the historic 13th contest in the magnificent Las Ventas arena, where the 23,000 seats are already sold out, but it marks the midway point of the season. This is a precious opportunity to gain – or lose – momentum in the push toward the overall championship. Adding to the pressure, the course is packed with more features than ever, and four of the twelve pros are previous overall World Tour champions. So when you're going to launch yourself 15 meters into the sky for a trick that will outshine the best in the world, who will make sure that your equipment doesn't let you down? For two of those former winners, the answer is simple: they put their trust in their father.
At every stop of the world's most prestigious freestyle motocross event series, you'll find Ramón Torres and Antoine Rebeaud working in the pits with greasy hands and an intense look of concentration. It's up to them to check and perfect every detail of the dirt bikes that partner their sons – Dany Torres and Mat Rebeaud – in the dangerous dance that is freestyle motocross.
Though Ramón is Spanish and Antoine is Swiss, they have a lot in common besides being their sons' full-time mechanics. Both raced motorcycles in their youth. Both raised their sons in small towns where they still thrive today – Arahal, Spain and Payerne, Switzerland. And both gave their boys their first motorbikes before they even started kindergarden, sharing a love for riding that has only grown through the years.
These fathers are as passionate about two-wheel riding as their offspring, and Dany and Mat respect their dads' judgment not only as mechanics but as coaches on the track and in the foam pit. "It makes it easier for me that we work together," Dany says. "If I do something that's not really right, he tells me, 'No, this is not good.' He explains the things I can do to correct it, and I understand."
Naturally, fathers and sons have their disagreements, too. Like back in the late 1990s when 16-year-old Mat told his dad that he wanted to switch from racing to freestyle. "I said 'No! Never!'" laughs Antoine. "I couldn't see him doing freestyle –I thought it was only a small sport that didn't hold much promise for a career." He gave his son an ultimatum: finish your schooling and then you can do what you want. So Mat got his degree at age 20 and then promptly announced that he was going to the United States to learn freestyle. "After a while I realized that it was a good move," Antoine comments. "And now he's been doing it for a long time – more than ten years, and has also started his own business as well."
Of course, a sporting career has its highs and lows. The possibility for injury is a reality of FMX, and both Mat and Dany have had their share of crashes. But as Antoine notes, if there's a problem, hardest of all is not being there to help. Both he and Ramón appreciate the opportunity to support their sons throughout all the ups and downs – and for these two riders, the highs have been many. Mat won the overall Red Bull X-Fighters crown in 2008, and Dany did the same in 2011. Madrid is special to both families, as well. Mat was victorious at Las Ventas in 2008, while Dany won here in both 2009 and 2011.
To prevail at this mythic venue again in 2014, Dany and Mat will have to face not only each other, but two additional overall champions in the lineup – Frenchman Thomas Pagès and New Zealand's Levi Sherwood. Like all fathers, however, for Ramón and Antoine their first priority goes beyond any single event. They wish their sons a lifetime of happiness.
"My hope for Dany is always that he is equally happy in freestyle and in normal life," Ramón states. Antoine agrees and adds, "The best moment is when Mat finishes a competition safely and we go home together – and start preparing for the next one!"
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Madrid LIVE!
Catch all the action from Red Bull X-Fighters in Spain:
Webcast: We will stream the entire competition live right here on redbullxfighters.com/madrid-live, Red Bull TV, Xbox 360 and Apple TV. Please note that the live webcast is geo-blocked in the US.
June 27: Europe: 10:00pm (CET) | Canada: 01:00pm (PST) | Mexico: 03:00pm (CST) | Brasil: 05:00pm (BRT)
June 28: Japan: 05:00am (JST) | Australia: 06:00am (AEST) | New Zealand: 08.00am (NZST)
TV: The main event will also broadcast live on several TV stations around the globe. Please check local listings for details.
Live Results: To get results and standings in real-time, hit redbullxfighters.com/results.