In a stunning Friday session where the thermometer was as red as the South African soil, Tom Pagès of France was hotter than ever in Qualifying for Red Bull X-Fighters Pretoria, adding another trick to his arsenal to grab top scores in the opening battle for Saturday's podium.
In what could have been a Final run in any other competition, Tom Pagès of France put it all on the line in Qualifying for the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour stop in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday, revving up the crowd and the judges with all the innovation in his arsenal. Besides his signature Bike Flip, Special Flip and Alley-Oop Flair, as well as a Volt and 360, he landed the Transfer Flip he's just mastered to clinch the day's high score.
Coming off a definitive win at the previous stop in Madrid, Pagès has thrown down the gauntlet to the only man ahead of him in the World Tour standings, Australia's Clinton Moore. The Aussie landed all the tricks that have earned him two first-place finishes so far this season, but his Flair and Volt were less solid than usual, which was all it took to put him in seventh place in the tight field. Another Australian, Rob Adelberg, had a better result, going huge and technical with his Transfer Flip and California Roll for the second-best score.
Taka Higashino of Japan was another standout, claiming the third-best placement with tricks including the first Flair he's landed in competition. The defending World Tour champion, Aussie Josh Sheehan, delivered his rarely seen Double Backflip to take fourth.
"I was under pressure because I wanted to land my big tricks, so it was really difficult and stressful, but I got everything together and I'm very happy," Pagès said. "I like sending it as much as I can in Qualifying because then you are in a comfortable place the day after – but with Josh and Clinton having mistakes today, I might face them sooner in the head-to-heads tomorrow, which could be interesting."
The 12-man lineup, including seven former Red Bull X-Fighters event winners, took full advantage of the vast track in front of the historic Union Buildings, which offers wide-ranging options for the riders to create their best lines. Spain's Dany Torres, the 2011 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Champion, crashed at the end of his Qualifying run, but after being examined by the doctors is ready to compete in the Finals on Saturday, September 12.
The Qualifying results determine the starting order for Saturday's Finals in the world's most prestigious freestyle motocross series, the last showdown before the World Tour champion is crowned at the season final in Abu Dhabi in October.
Qualifying Results Red Bull X-Fighters Pretoria (RSA):
1. Tom Pagès (FRA) 89.80
2. Rob Adelberg (AUS) 85.90
3. Taka Higashino (JPN) 85.70
4. Josh Sheehan (AUS) 85.00
5. David Rinaldo (FRA) 84.40
6. Maikel Melero (ESP) 84.00,
7. Clinton Moore (AUS) 83.60
8. Rémi Bizouard (FRA) 83.30
9. Adam Jones (USA) 82.70
10. Javier Villegas (CHI) 81.70
11. Dany Torres (ESP) 80.40
12. Alastair Sayer (BOT) 76.50
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters South Africa LIVE!
Webcast: 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 September 20th at 5pm EST.
Start Times: 01:30 pm SAST on redbullxfighters.com with exclusive Round 1 coverage | 02:00 pm SAST on Red Bull TV
Europe: 01:30pm (CET) | Canada: 04:30am (PST) | Mexico: 06:30am (CST) | Brasil: 08:30am (BRT) | Japan: 08:30pm (JST) | Australia: 09:30pm (AEST) | New Zealand: 11.30pm (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