Take it to the limit


Take it to the limit

THE MOTOCROSS Freestyle Kings performed to a packed 23,000 capacity Las Ventas bullring during the Spanish leg of the Red Bull X-Fighters League in Madrid.

By David Light

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Published: Sat 2 Aug 2008, 3:27 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:46 PM

On a course specially created for the historic site, riders gained speed in the tunnels (which usually see bulls tearing out of them) before launching themselves off the planted ramps to give them sufficient air time. Man and machine hang in the air performing tricks before negotiating a perfect landing and coming to a complete stop just in time to avoid careering into the opposite wall. The two-day spectacle dazzled all who attended with Swiss rider Mat Rebeaud emerging victorious.

The Red Bull X-Fighter league is a niche event in the motocross calendar and extreme is the order of the day.

Hat-trick of victories

Mat Rebeaud celebrated a hat-trick of victories at the fourth event of this year’s Red Bull X-Fighters with his third win. The star defeated Andre Villa of Norway in the final with Australian Robbie Maddison grabbing third place.

A buzzing crowd in the home of the new European Football Champions watched this season’s stand-out rider celebrate his hat-trick of wins having previously claimed the top spot in Mexico and Brazil.

His challenger in the final, Norwegian Andrè Villa, suffered bad fortune in the final as he missed a no-hand landing and ended up stuck in the thick dirt of the course in between the quarter pipe and kicker.

‘Chainsaw’ cheering The dozens of chainsaws brought into the arena by local fans fell silent only once when local hero Dany Torres was eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the American Jeremy Lusk who went on to claim fourth spot. In true Spanish crowd style chainsaws minus the blades are allowed in to jeer the crowd as they make a similar noise to a motocross bike revving up.

While Lusk celebrated the result in the colours of Spanish champions Real Madrid, Dany was forced to leave the arena in tears wearing the jersey of his namesake and European Championship hero Fernando Torres “It was close. One more judge on my side and I would have beaten Lusk. To lose in that way is bitter, but I have to be pleased with my performance,” commented the crowd favourite after the tournament, trying to put a brave face on it despite the disappointment.

Charles Pagès was fortunate to walk away unscathed from his quarter-final crash. The Frenchman fell heavily while performing a Whip but still managed to leave the arena unaided. Earlier in the evening at the Last 16 stage of the competition Sweden’s Fredrik Johansson had managed to pull off a world première. Despite having no chance of progressing to the quarter-finals, Johansson became the first rider in history to stick a 540 for the quarter-pipe.

Champs and casualties

To gain more of an insight into the minds of these extreme sportsmen City times spoke with the only casualty of the night, Charles Pages and overall winner Mat Rebaud.

One of two brothers competing in the X-Fighters, Charles Pages has had an unfortunate season already before the eventual crash on the Friday. “I was out for six months with a knee injury so I have been slowly coming back for the last two,” he told us. “I feel ok now. It’s cool to be back riding with my friends and my brother and I think my knee is getting better every day. Really I should thank my team and Red Bull for sticking with me. Red Bull is so important to the sport because before they made this event nothing like it really existed on such a big scale. The X-Fighter event is the biggest in the world and it’s a privilege to be here. There’s a good ambience, good riders, everything is cool here.”

We wondered what it was like competing with his brother Thomas. “We compete every day, in the tournaments and in practice. There is more competition between him and I than all the other riders. Everything is competition which makes us better riders. I have been riding for only five years so I have less time than the others to gain experience. I was riding BMX bikes before this though so I am not completely new.”

“Madrid is a beautiful place for this kind of show because the crowd are so close to the action I really love performing here.”

It was touching to see Charles’s brother racing onto the track the moment he hit the ground. The crowd feared the worst as he lay there motionless but from all reports Charles appeared to have aggravated his existing knee injury. A light let off one would agree when witnessing the accident.

Overall winner Mat Rebeaud has been riding motocross bikes since he was four. Somewhat of a family business, Mat’s grandfather was a motocross rider as was his father. “At the beginning I just got a 50 CC small bike and went around the garden,” Mat told us. “My first race was in Switzerland at the age of ten. The sport was well known then but only for certain people, that’s why I like racing in this league because many different fans come and watch. It is very professional and every place is special.

Here in Madrid it’s in the bullring and in the US it’s in a historic site in Fort Worth.

Red Bull put on a good show, it’s not just a competition.”

Risky business

We asked Mat what the scariest moment has been out on the track. “The scary moment is just before you start the run but really you are concentrating so hard there is no time to be scared.

It’s so cool when you jump especially in Madrid because you can hear the crowd in the air. At a venue like this you sit back and just say, “I love my job.” The only bad part of this sport is the risk. But there is risk in every sport. I don’t mention the accidents I had because I don’t like to speak about them. “

“Like all sports there is competition but there is a good atmosphere here. We travel together so the riders are good friends. There is a rivalry but everyone is pretty cool. I have some good friends here. I have a special relationship with my bike, during the weekend this bike is a part of me.”

After Mat was crowned champion he told us, “The level of riding, the atmosphere, and the result will go down in history. I never would have dreamed of this result at the start of the season.”


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