The opener of the 2014 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour electrified Mexico City with an epic freestyle motocross battle that set up the rivalries for a season that will span four continents. Levi Sherwood of New Zealand, the 2012 World Tour champion, was crowned the victor, with up-and-comer Josh Sheehan of Australia in second place and 2011 World Tour champion Dany Torres of Spain claiming third. In a shock to fans and riders alike, 2013 overall champion Thomas Pagès of France was eliminated in the quarter finals.
Facing a sold-out crowd of 38,000 in the Monumental Plaza de Toros bullring – where the tightest course of the series was made even more intimidating with murals of the snake god Quetzalcoatl – the best FMX riders on the planet threw down the tricks they’ve been working on all through the off-season, soaring 15 meters into the sky.
Sherwood came into the competition determined to ride his own way, and he executed tricks like the jaw-dropping Kiss of Death Backflip and the seldom-seen Turntable to perfection. But the battle was close, with challenger Sheehan superior in two of the five judging categories. “I was really trying not to focus on who I was riding against and to just do my best,” said the winner. “As the season goes on I’ll continue to push and take my own way.”
A happy Sheehan said, “The crowd in Mexico City makes you feel so good and so pumped up. This is epic – words can’t describe it.”
As always, Spain’s Torres was a favorite of the crowd, and he gave a stellar performance that holds promise for the future if he can heal from a nagging ankle injury. Pagès, meanwhile, finished a strong fifth despite a slip in his usually perfect Flair 540 that put a hiccup in the flow of his run.
The riders’ next chance to change their place in the standings will come on 25 May, when the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour moves to Osaka, Japan.
Results: 1. Levi Sherwood (NZL), 2. Josh Sheehan (AUS), 3. Dany Torres (ESP), 4. Adam Jones (USA), 5. Thomas Pagès (FRA) , 6. Rob Adelberg, 7. Javier Villegas (CHI), 8. Maikel Melero (ESP), 9. Libor Podmol (CZE), 10. Remi Bizouard (FRA), 11. Erick Ruiz (MEX)