Back by popular demand – The Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour returns to Osaka, Japan for a second year after Japan's Taka Higashino won the first-ever stop in Asia a year ago in front of an enthralled home town crowd and intrigued global audience.
Taka Higashino will have his work cut out for him trying to win on his home turf when the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour returns to his home town in Osaka on May 25. New Zealand's Levi Sherwood has the momentum on his side after winning the season-opener in Mexico City in style while defending champion Thomas Pagès of France will be looking to revive his title hopes after a disappointing fifth place in the first of five 2014 stops. Five up-and-coming riders from Japan will battle it out in the Wildcard Qualifying round on Saturday, May 24, in the hopes of advancing to the final on the biggest freestyle motocross (FMX) track in Asia.
Higashino beat Pagès in an epic freestyle battle in last year's final in Osaka in front of the spectacular Osaka Castle in the city's famous Nishinomaru Garden. The world's top FMX riders will be performing mind-boggling tricks off their bikes while jumping distances of up to 30 meters in distance and 15 meters high in front of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Japanese FMX fans. . The riders get an extra charge from the crowds in the grandstand seating set up directly around the Osaka track – a unique feature and the closest spectators get to a track anywhere.
The return of the Red Bull X-Fighters to Osaka pays tribute to the rising popularity of FMX in Eastern Asia and it promises to be a high-stakes battle with two former and the reigning world tour champion are looking for the victory: Dany Torres of Spain (2011) Sherwood (2012) and Pagès (2013). Sherwood in particular savored the victory in Mexico City, his first win since taking first in Sydney at the end of his 2012 championship year. Pagès, who won two rounds in 2013 and was on the podium at all five stops, suddenly seemed beatable in Mexico City when he was knocked out in the quarter-final round by Adam Jones of the United States. The Frenchman, who wasn't able to train before the season opener as much as he would liked due to bad weather in France, also struggled with some of his tricks due to the high altitude of Mexico City.
In Saturday's Wildcard Qualifying, Japanese riders Daice Daisuke, Bupper Shinichi, Gonta "little Daice" Suzuki, Kuimura Kota and Watanabe Genki will be trying to earn a spot in the final round. They are the same five riders who delighted the Osaka crowd a year ago in the National Qualifier.
2014 World Tour standings: 1. Levi Sherwood (NZL) 100 points, 2. Josh Sheehan (AUS) 80, 3. Dany Torres (ESP) 65, 4. Adam Jones (USA) 55, 5. Thomas Pagès (FRA) 45, 6. Rob Adelberg (AUS) 35, 7. Javier Villegas (CHI) 30, 8. Maikel Melero (ESP) 25, 9. Libor Podmol (CZE) 20, 10. Remi Bizouard (FRA) 15
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Osaka LIVE!
Catch all the action from Red Bull X-Fighters in Japan:
Tickets: Get your tickets now: Lawson Tickets
Webcast: We will stream the entire competition live right here on redbullxfighters.com/osaka-live, Red Bull TV, Xbox 360 and Apple TV.
Please note that the live webcast is geo-blocked in the US, but will be available as a Video on Demand from 8:30pm (ET) on Monday, May 26.
May 25: Japan: 03:00pm (JST) | Australia: 04:00pm (AEST) | New Zealand: 06.00pm (NZST) | Mexico: 01:00am (CST) | Brasil: 03:00am (BRT) | Europe: 08:00am (CET)
May 24: Canada: 11:00pm (PST)
TV: The main event will also broadcast live on several TV stations around the globe. Please check local listings for details. The event will broadcast for the US fans on Fox Sports 1 on Monday, May 26, at 6.30pm (ET) / 3.30pm (PT).
Live Results: To get results and standings in real-time, hit redbullxfighters.com/results