There was no holding back at Red Bull X-Fighters Qualifying tonight: from their very first runs, riders pulled out tricks that are usually reserved for the Finals. A Bike Flip and a Double Backflip were just the tip of the iceberg in a level of competition that was off the charts. With the Madrid Finals less than 24 hours away, the race for the season title is still wide open.
With the stakes – and the pressure – mounting as the 2014 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour reaches its midway point in Madrid, Thursday's Qualifying round was an intense display of strengths that foreshadows an all-out battle on Friday night. Throughout the 12-man field, which includes four previous overall champions, riders were pulling out their biggest firepower and adding brand-new tricks to their arsenals.
After not competing in the Finals at the previous stop in Osaka, both France's Thomas Pagès and Australia's Josh Sheehan blasted themselves back into contention: Pagès, the defending overall champion, strung together an epic run including a Volt, a Special Flip, a Flair 540 Tsunami and the long-awaited Bike Flip to take first place heading into the Finals. Sheehan was right behind in second, drawing gasps from the spectators with a massive Double Backflip as well as moves like a Flatspin 360 Nac and Double-Grab Flip variation. Levi Sherwood, who is looking for what would be a record-tying third tour stop win in a row, was hot in pursuit in third place, showing off his new Rowdova Flip.
This is the 13th consecutive time that the world's most prestigious freestyle motocross tour has come to Las Ventas, and the track is all new and more packed with features than ever before. Spain's own Dany Torres and Maikel Melero used every centimeter, with Torres putting in a stellar run to finish only eight-tenths of a point behind Sherwood in fourth, and Melero executing a Flair 540 on the way to earning a strong sixth. As the scores start from scratch tomorrow night, the Spaniards will be looking for the cheers of the sold-out crowd of 23,000 fans to boost them to new heights. But they won't be alone. Seventh-place qualifier Clinton Moore of Australia, for example, gave a surprise performance tonight that showed off both a Volt and his new Bundy trick. With this level of performance in Qualifying, the fireworks tomorrow night could write a new page in the history books.
Red Bull X-Fighters Madrid 2014 Qualifying Results:
1. Thomas Pagès (FRA) 88,4 points
2. Josh Sheehan (AUS) 86,9
3. Levi Sherwood (NZL) 85,7
4. Dany Torres (ESP) 84,9
5. Taka Higashino (JPN) 84,6
6. Maikel Melero (ESP) 84,2
7. Clinton Moore (AUS) 83,9
8. Mat Rebeaud (SUI) 83,6
9. Rob Adelberg (AUS) 82,8
10. Libor Podmol (CZE) 82,6
11. Rémi Bizouard (FRA) 81,6
12. David Rinaldo (FRA) 81,0
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.