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Red Bull X- Fighters – London Day 1

redbull xfighters battersea londonAfter yet another early start, (3.00am), the  ExPix team headed down to London on Friday 13th to cover the Red Bull X-Fighters.

 

Held at Battersea Power Station, the worlds best FMX riders came together to compete in the penultimate round of the X-Fighters tour.

Although billed as a training day with qualifiers in the evening, it soon became apparent that we were at mercy of the elements. Whenever they got chance, riders took the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the course ahead of the qualifiers. But rain stopped play on numerous occasions and it was beginning to feel like a game of 'cat and mouse'!

With little action on the course we headed for the pit to grab some interviews with the riders. First up was Levi Sherwood from New Zealand; at 18 he was the youngest rider competing over the weekend but as we later found out you certainly wouldn't have guessed this from his riding; the only real clues to his age had to be the 'spokie dokies' on his wheel spokes! An interview with current Red Bull X-Fighters leader Andre Villa was then followed by British Rider Chris Birch who told us about his plans to promote the sport in the UK.

With several failed attempts to get some training sessions underway the crowds arrived to watch the qualifiers. The skies looked evil over the formidable and imposing structure of Battersea Power Station. With eerie sounds of Black Sabbath swirling through the derelict building, there was a sense of impending doom, all that was missing was the dry ice and Vincent Price!

Despite the rain, the atmosphere had been fantastic, chilled and laid back; nothing was to much trouble for the Red Bull staff who kept us fed and 'Red Bulled' throughout the day! Whilst we waited for a break in the weather we were entertained with clips from Red Bull activities around the world. Eventually the inevitable happened and the event had to be pulled for the day.

Saturday morning brought with it a slight break in the weather and with a 9.00am start the crew were determined to get the qualifiers out of the way ASAP. With a taste of what was to come, the riders laid down some sick moves. Levi Sherwood got off to an awesome start finishing 1st in the first qualifying round. Robbie Maddison however wasn't as lucky, crashing towards the end of his 1st heat, and he didn't make it to the second round. Levi once again pulled out all the stops and finished 1st in the second round, confirming him in pole position for the finals.

So with the finals later on the standings are as follows

Qualifying Results:

422.50 Levi Sherwood

405.50 Nate Adams

403.00 Dany Torres

395.00 Mike Mason

393.00 Adam Jones

393.00 Mat Rebeaud

373.50 Cameron Sinclair

365.50 Clinton Moore

358.00 Andre Villa

283.00 Robbie Maddison

277.00 Chris Birch

DNS Rob Adelberg

So with the qualifiers over by lunch time there was plenty of time to explore the surroundings. Battersea Power Station is a surreal place, amidst the ruins and dereliction we found a fully functional event hub. As we entered the grounds at Gate 1 the production offices were directly ahead, housed in porta cabins. The Media Centre lay behind, inside the shell of the building. Despite the appearance, which only served to add to the atmosphere, the Media Centre was probably one of the best we have been in at an event; leather sofas, coffee tables, fridges full of Red Bull, a large work station with electrics and free super fast Wifi, large screen displays and Red Bull 'Sparkies' on hand to cater for your every need, what more could you want!

The pit lay inside the main building and could be seen from the Media Centre but getting to it was more of a mission. Because of the condition of the building, large sections are 'no go areas' so a more indirect route had to be taken to reach the riders. Stepping outside to walk around the outskirts of the building it looked more like a demolition site and a health and safety nightmare; wouldn't want to be the person who had to prepare the risk assessment on this! What a contrast then to find a newly installed hospitality area at the back of the building with catering facilities, conference area etc, not what we expected!

Back to the pit and each rider had their own 'garage' with centre space going to the bikes. Mechanics were busy making adjustments and fine tuning, or cleaning the bikes ready for the nights actions; the riders on the other hand were chilling out back at the hotels. Talk of the day was Robbie Maddisons injuries with his camp reporting that he was OK.

At 5.00 pm the gates opened much to the relief of the many spectators who had been 'camped' outside the grounds. With the main action not due to start until 8.00 pm the crowds were entertained with more Red Bull action from around the world displayed on the the big screens. But with heavy storms and rain pouring down on the course it was looking ominous. Guest appearances came from Amir Khan, Red Bull pilot Paul Bonhomme and Mark Miller and his Volkswagen Touareg Rally Car then it was time for the action to begin.

With the top 6 riders from the mornings qualifiers automatically going through and Robbie Maddison and Rob Adelberg out of the competition with injuries, it was down to the remaining 4 riders to fight it out for the last 2 places in the quarter finals. First up, going head to head was UK's Chris Birch and Andre Villa from Norway. Each rider was given 2 minutes to check out the course before the start of the heat but disaster struck as Andre came to the end of his session. Over shooting a jump, Andre's bike hit the barrier as he was catapulted into the crowd hitting the fans.

Things came to a halt as the barriers were put back into place and talks were had about the safety of the course.With Andre Villa now out of the action and with time pressing on it was decided to abandon the last chance qualifiers. The remaining quarter final places going to Cameron Sinclair and Clinton Moore who finished 7th & 8th earlier on in the day with UK rider Chris Birch missing out on his chance to rider before a huge British crowd of 30,000.

Whilst the competition was run on the night with the following results below, it was later announced on the Red Bull site that due to safety issues and the deteriorating condition of the track, the results from the Qualifiers would stand as the final results as all riders had benefited from the same conditions during the Qualifiers. However the running order for the crowd was as follows

So straight into the quarter finals and the line up was as follows:

Adam Jones v Mike Mason

Matt Rebeaud v Dany Torres

Cameron Sinclair v Nate Adams

Levi Sherwood v Clinton Moore

With points for the Red Bull X-Fighters championship at stake, the riders weren't holding anything back. Any nerves or thoughts of the earlier accidents were banished as the riders stretched and threw themselves into positions that seemed impossible on the ground and unthinkable in the air! With the last heat done the line up for the semi finals was announced:

Dany Torres v Nate Adams

Mike Mason v Levi Sherwood

To the roar of the crowds and set against the awesome backdrop of Battersea Power Station, the riders stepped it up a gear to battle it out for a place in the finals with Levi Sherwood & Nate Adams taking the coveted spots.

As tension grew amongst the crowds, Nate Adams took to the course for the final time. Pulling off a fast, high octane performance, Nate raised the bar for Levi Sherwood. Undeterred Levi flexed and manoeuvred his body into positions unnatural to vertebrates and leaving fans asking if he actually had a spine! His efforts paid off and Levi took the win.

With only 25 points separating the overall top 3 riders, Andre Villa, Levi Sherwood & Nate Adams, sparks will be flying in Rome as these guys battle it out to be the Red Bull 2010 X-Fighter Champion!

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