April 8, 2006 We wrote recently about a new form of motorsport known as drifting, the first four-wheeled motorsport in which speed is not the key factor. Instead of being the fastest, it’s about performing the best tricks and extreme manoeuvres. Motorcycling has two equivalents – one on tarmac, where stoppies, wheelies and all manner of trickery are performed on road bikes and Freestyle Motocross (FMX) which is performed over jumps using motocross bikes. Though all of these sports are in their infancy, FMX is already shaping up as a mainstream spectator sport thanks to being extremely spectacular. Red Bull is a name synonymous with Xtreme sports of all descriptions, having organized many competitions for fledgling Xtreme sports and supported many others. Red Bull is now developing the sport into a major arena sport as was evidenced last weekend when it filled the world's largest bull fighting arena, the Monumental Plaza de Toros in Mexico City for the Red Bull X-Fighters FMX. Still images don’t do Xtreme sports justice but we defy you not to be oggle the array of awesome pics in the image gallery of this story, or wonder at just what type of sports we may evolve in the future. The event was won by 23-year-old Swiss rider, Mat Rebeaud, who put on such a spectacular display that he forced odds-on favourite American "Wunderkind"Travis Pastrana to try a little too hard, crashing out of the final in spectacular fashion.
“The Best Day of My Life,” was how Rebeaud characterised his win in the Red Bull X-Fighters in Mexico City in front of 42,000 enthusiastic fans. The end of the evening came shortly before midnight, when the jury passed their final judgment after three rounds and 18 fantastic rides.
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The first surprise that the fans experienced in the Monumental Plaza de Toros, which had been sold-out for weeks, was at the start. The program had announced a program of nine international superstars, but Norwegian Andre Villa, who had been flown in as a substitute rider (in case of accidents in practice), had ridden so well in the final days of training that he was hastily called up as a starter and the event was changed to a 10-rider format.
The decision proved to be a correct one because the 23-year-old Norwegian, who lives in Spain, finished the first round with more points than anyone but the world’s best rider, Travis Pastrana. Points were awarded based on execution and difficulty of the 120 second ride and the five-member jury included Mexico's most popular bull fighter, Eulalio Lopez Zotoluco. This was the matador's jury debut at an FMX event, where he was given the responsibility of rating the "Voice of spectators", that is, the enthusiasm of the public, by scoring this into points.
The eventual winner Rebeaud barely slid into round two, with 70 points as the fifth placed rider. Sixth-place Australian, Robbie Maddison, was eliminated with 69 points.
So the five best riders moved into the semi-finals with Pastrana making his mark in the opening run inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls Fire". Andre Villa had bad luck: the Norwegian in his last jump and missed a seemingly secure entry into the finals. For him, the workday ended just as it did for the Spaniard, Dani Torres, who remained 1.5 points behind Ronnie Renner with 74.5 points.
In the third and final round, the crowd cheered as the Freestyle Motocross show got unleashed - first by public favorite and last year's winner, Renner, then by Rebeaud. The Swiss KTM pilot laid down a brilliant and unbelievably precise run, riddled with tall-order difficulties. He thus forced Pastrana to take greater risks - and the best FMX rider in the world then risked too much. Just after halfway through his 120-second run, he had a heavy crash which ended his night. Thankfully he was able to leave the arena unaided.
"That is what our sport is all about", said Rebeaud after the victory which he celebrated with a Mexican Sombrero on his head. "I risked it and won. This is an unbelievable victory. It is probably the best day of my life."
Red Bull X-Fighters Mexico City 2006 Results
1. Mat Rebeaud, KTM (CH) 2. Ronnie Renner, KTM (USA) 3. Travis Pastrana, Suzuki (USA) 4. Dani Torres, Yamaha (ESP) 5. Andre Villa, Yamaha (NOR) 6. Robbie Maddison, Honda (AUS) Nate Adams, Yamaha (USA) Eigo Sato, Yamaha (JPN) Sebastian Mejia, Yamaha (COL) 10. Johan Nungaray, KTM (MEX)View gallery - 15 images