New Zealand's Levi Sherwood won the Red Bull X-Fighters event Friday in Madrid, Spain, in an upset over the local favorite and defending Red Bull X-Fighters champion Dany Torres during the head-to-head finals. Maikel Melero, another Spanish rider, rounded out the podium in third place, ahead of French rider Thomas Pagès and Japanese riders Taka Higashino and Eigo Sato.
"This is probably my biggest win I've done," said Sherwood, after the competition in Madrid's historic Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. "I feel like I really had to work for it and there was no point there where I thought I had it. I'm so pumped. Dany rode really well, and everybody surprised us. It was intense."
The competition couldn't have been much closer: Torres' winning run included the stalefish air that has become a staple of his runs as well as a cliffhanger backflip, dead body flip, Indian air heel clicker, flatliner whip, stripper flip, and cliffhanger to no-hand landing [also known as the BASE jumper]. Sherwood answered with a run featuring a kiss of death flip, flatliner, seat grab backflip, holy grab air, heel clicker, turntable air, and a rodova air [a rarely seen variation of the cordova]. Final score: 87.5 to 86.5.
Pagès won Swatch Best Move honors on Friday for his "special flip," the body varial variation that put him in fourth place last month in the Moto X Best Trick competition at X Games Los Angeles, and his run also featured a volt body varial, but without any backflips in his runs he was unable to beat Melero, a crowd favorite in his Spain soccer jersey.
Sherwood, who also won the 2012 X-Fighters opener in Dubai, is now the far-and-away overall points leader on the 2012 X-Fighters tour with an 80-point lead on Chilean rider Javier Villegas, who's in second [see overall standings below].
Jey Rouanet, the wild card French rider who dazzled fans in Madrid on Thursday with a new trick he's calling "le Roulette," was injured in practice on Friday and did not compete in finals. Todd Potter, the 2012 X-Fighters leader coming into Madrid after a win last month at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., was also injured in practice and did not compete in finals. Under the X-Fighters "throw out" rule, each rider drops their lowest score from one of the tour stops, meaning Potter could still be a contender for the 2012 title.
The X-Fighters tour continues Aug. 11 at Munich's Olympic Stadium and concludes Oct. 6 at Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australia.