Red Bull X-Fighter riders get first look at new beast of a track in Madrid that could upset the balance of power in the penultimate stop of the 2013 season.
The Red Bull X-Fighters track in Madrid has long been one of the world's most formidable freestyle motocross courses with riders shooting out of the bullfighting ring's labyrinth of tunnels into a packed stadium of frenzied spectators. But this year the FMX riders will face new challenges with new features designed to give them more options and allow them to spend more of their time in front of the crowd: a new quarter-pipe, a super big air ramp that will see riders flying 35 meters, and an elevated ramp that will allow riders to spend more time inside the stadium instead of riding in and out of tunnels as much to gain speed. There will also be a towering step-down jump onto the five-meter high mound of dirt in the center of the bullring.
"It's a really interesting track and it seems like there's a new ramp for every new trick," said Red Bull X-Fighters 2013 World Tour leader Thomas Pages of France, who also admits parts of it look scary. He is fit and relishing the chance to perform his gravity-defying Flair off the new quarter-pipe as well as his Special Flip in which he does a back-flip off the seat of his bike in midair and the Volt – a mid-air spin away from the bike. "It's good for the public because they get to see more of the riders, it's good for the riders because we get to feed off the crowd's energy more and so it's good for everyone. Every free-styler loves the energy from the crowd."
Madrid is the only European stop this year on the six-leg Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour that began in Mexico City in March, moved to Dubai in April, California in May and Osaka, Japan in May. The new track is an unknown factor for many of the top favorites, including Pages, Australia's Rob Adelberg and Spain's Dany Torres. It could open the door for upsets. This is the 12th straight year it will be held in Madrid, which for many riders is the most looked-forward to event on the FMX calendar because of the hothouse atmosphere and the frenzied crowds that push each rider to their limits and sometimes beyond. Josh Sheehan is expected to try his double flip in Madrid while local hero Torres has dropped heavy hints about a dazzling new trick in his arsenal.
Track designer Martin Alzugaray and his Fly Group have been building the Madrid tracks for 12 years and are pleased with this year's creation and the 5-meter high centerpiece mound – 2,800 cubic meters of dirt, about 600 cubic meters more than in the past years. The arena has a diameter of 60 meters and riders will be aloft for more than half of that after zipping out of the tunnels and hitting the ramp just as they exit the tunnels.
"We tried to find new things, we tried to give the riders more options without having to go into the tunnels as much," Alzugaray said, standing on top of the mound on Thursday evening as nervous-looking riders tried to figure out their best lines. "The riders are very close to the crowd, the atmosphere is going to be crazy. It's not easy to find a new design when the course is so compact. But we did it."
Watch it LIVE!
Catch all the action of the Red Bull X-Fighters from Madrid, Spain live on July 19:
TV: The main event will be broadcasted live on Fuel.tv, Sportv Brasil, Marca, MCS Extrême, ProSieben FUN, SKY Sport 4 New Zealand. Please check your local listing for a channel in your country.
Webcast: We will stream the entire competition live right here on redbullxfighters.com and on redbull.tv
Live Results: To get all results and standings in real-time visit: redbullxfighters.com/results
July 19 - USA: 1:15pm (PDT), Brasil: 5:15 (BRT), Europe: 10.15pm (CEST)
July 20 - Japan: 5.15am (JST), Australia: 6.15am (AEST) , New Zealand: 08.15pm (NZST)