Australia's Clinton Moore dominated Qualifying ahead of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Final on Thursday in Abu Dhabi with a dazzling display of freestyle motocross wizardry while France's Thomas Pagès crashed twice.
Clinton Moore piled the pressure on his rival Thomas Pagès in their Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour showdown with a dramatic first place in Qualifying ahead of the do-or-die season finale on Friday. The Australian and the Frenchman are tied on points and have two wins each this season, setting the stage for the dramatic fight to the finish in the fifth and final stop of the world's most prestigious FMX tour on the famous Corniche just off the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf.
It was a clean sweep at the top for Australia in Qualifying with Josh Sheehan taking second after nailing his trademark Double Backflip and Rob Adelberg getting third with a new trick, the Cordova Transfer Flip.
Moore qualified in first place after a flawless run on the track set up amid Abu Dhabi's skyscrapers aglow on a balmy October evening while Pagès, the most innovative in the sport with an unrivaled bag of tricks, crash-landed in both of his two Qualifying runs – first on his signature Bike Flip and then on the Alley-Oop Flair. He could finish no better than ninth and will have to get past three other riders in Round 1 on Friday to earn a spot in the quarter-finals, where he would be up against Moore.
"I'm glad to qualify on top but it's a bit of a bummer that I'll have to go head-to-head against Tom right away in the quarter-finals if he gets through the first round," said Moore, who won the first two stops of the year in Mexico City and Athens. "I wanted to go against Tom at the end in the final. There's pressure on all of us. If Tom doesn't make any mistakes, we've already seen in the past, I can't beat him at this point."
Moore admitted that he might have inadvertently intimidated Pàges and the other riders with two stunning 120-foot (37 meter) long dirt-to-dirt Volt jumps in training on Wednesday on the massive Abu Dhabi track – a trick that had never been done before at that distance.
Pagès sounded disappointed that the judges knocked down his score so far due to one botched landing in each run, saying they were not fully appreciating what he was doing. "The tricks I do are really technical and it's not easy to do them every time - and that's what the judges don't understand. I'm pretty much the only one trying those tricks at the moment. Being in ninth place is weird. I didn't expect to have to be in the first round."
David Rinaldo (FRA), Luc Ackermann (GER) and Libor Podmol (CZE) did not take part in Qualifying. But Rinaldo and Ackermann will compete on Friday.
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Abu Dhabi LIVE!
Broadcast: We will stream the entire competition LIVE on redbullxfighters.com and Red Bull TV will broadcast from the Quarter Finals on. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. For a full list of supported devices visit about.redbull.tv.
Please note that the broadcast is geo-blocked in the USA, but will be shown exclusively on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, November 9th at 7pm EST.
Start Times: 07:30 pm GST on redbullxfighters.com with exclusive Round 1 coverage | 08:00 pm GST on Red Bull TV
October 30: Europe: 04:30pm (CET) | Canada: 08:30am (PST) | Mexico: 09:30am (CST) | Brasil: 01:30pm (BRT) | | October 31: Japan: 00:30am (JST) | Australia: 02:30am (AEST) | New Zealand: 04.30am (NZST)
Video on Demand: The entire competition will be available as a VoD right after the event on redbullxfighters.com and Red Bull TV. In the US right after the event was aired on Fox Sport 1.
TV: The main event will also broadcast live on several TV stations around the globe. Please check local listings for details.
Live Results: For real-time results and standings visit redbullxfighters.com/results