The 14th Red Bull X-Fighters season went out with a roar on Saturday at the first-ever World Tour final held in Africa and, unfortunately for Kiwi contender Levi Sherwood, it didn’t quite pan out the way he wanted.
In a no-holds-barred battle, Australia’s Josh Sheehan was unstoppable, winning the event and his first Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour title in front of a sold out crowd of 22,000 frantic fans.
When the first ever Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour final on African soil went down in Pretoria on Saturday, Australia’s Sheehan would not be denied. The 28-year-old dominated the competition, winning every heat by unanimous decision to earn his first championship in the world’s most prestigious freestyle motocross series. Spain’s Dany Torres finished strong in second for the day, with Adam Jones from the United States earning his first podium of the season in third.
Sheehan has been charging in recent events, making determined progress against his rival from Down Under, New Zealander Sherwood.
After winning the first two events of 2014, Sherwood had clutched the top of the World Tour leader board all season long. When an ankle injury sustained in qualifying prevented Sherwood from moving beyond the first round of the Final, Sheehan could have taken it easy.
But he gave everything he had, defeating every opponent, including a spectacular Torres, with electrifying tricks like the double backflip and the Tsunami Flair.
When the final World Tour standings were tallied, it was an emotional Sheehan in first, Sherwood in second, and Torres in third. Each now has one World Tour title under his belt.
At the 50th Red Bull X-Fighters contest ever, the atmosphere was wild in the sold-out stands at Pretoria’s historic Union Buildings, as 22,000 fans thrilled to a sport that many were seeing live for the first time.
“I’ve been wanting this for years, and it’s a dream come true. I’m on top of the world.” said an overwhelmed Sheehan.
Results from Pretoria:
1. Josh Sheehan (AUS), 2. Dany Torres (ESP), 3. Adam Jones (USA), 4. Rémi Bizouard (FRA), 5. Thomas Pagès (FRA), 6. Clinton Moore (AUS), 7. Taka Higashino (JPN), 8. Maikel Melero (ESP), 9. David Rinaldo (FRA), 10. Alastair Sayer (BOT), 11. Nik De Wit (RSA), 12. Levi Sherwood (NZL).
World Tour (final):
1. Sheehan 360 pts., 2. Sherwood 270, 3. Torres 265, 4. Pagès 235, 5. Higashino 180, 6. Bizouard 165, 7. Jones 140, 8. Rob Adelberg (AUS) 120, 9. Moore 90, 10. Melero 85
Photo courtesy Daniel Grund