Just a few hundred feet in front of the Congress, the grass is slashed with Brazilian dirt, a deep red clay that is ideal for FMX riding. X-Fighters course designer Dane Herron and his DHI crew have built some huge dirt take-offs into the course's two large tabletop features. On Saturday, the residents of Brasilia will be treated to a free show, the likes of which they've never seen.
The tour's last stop in Dubai was a closely contested battle between four of the sport's top riders: Bilko Williams, Nate Adams, Andre Villa and eventual Dubai winner, Dany Torres. Torres was the smoothest and most consistent on the sandy Dubai course, where all of his fellow competitors made small, unforced errors that cost them a shot at victory. Over the past few years, Torres has worked hard to prepare for the big courses of X-Fighters and X Games and from early indications this could prove to be a break-out year for the nimble Spaniard, but upon his arrival here in Brasilia we found him limping on a walking cane. A get-off, from a failed Cordova Flip at home, left him with a couple of broken toes and a torn ligament. Back-to-back wins will be a challenge.
Brasilia is a big course, but definitely favors those with the ability and fearlessness to tackle the dirt. The money would, therefore, be on Nate Adams. He has the widest variety of skills and is riding the big four-stroke Honda, which should give him a distinct advantage on the long distance jumps. Adams himself agrees that the power of the four-stroke motor allows him to clear the gaps that most of the two-stroke riders will be challenged by.
The second place rider in Dubai was the always-charging Andre Villa. The Norwegian impressed the judges, as he did in 2010, with the full package of FMX abilities. He certainly looked to be the sure-fire winner, until a mistake - eerily reminiscent of his semifinal against Adam Jones in Rome last year - opened the door for Torres to take the victory. But Villa is happy that Torres has, "the target on his back" and is focused on a win in Brasilia.
One guy that really wants to party in Brazil is Levi Sherwood. He never really looked comfortable on the Dubai course and, like Adams and Villa before him, made a mistake in his run that took him out of contention. Much is expected from the young Kiwi, who was kicking ass and taking names in 2010, before a broken femur in September sent him home to heal. As a consolation, he did take home an extra $1500 by winning the new 'Swatch Best Move' contest within a contest, pulling a massive stretched out Hart Attack Flip.
But my bet for a standout performance in Brasilia is Robbie Maddison. Maddo was nursing injuries from a practice crash early in Dubai and made the smart choice of holding back (not something the wild Australian is known for) in the competition. He sought counsel on attempting the Volt body varial to try for advancement, but chose to hold his cards close to his chest and survive for another battle. The Maddison family compound recently added a fine foam pit in the front yard and he has spent a plenty of time in there over the past few weeks. He also spent Tuesday careening around the city of Sao Paulo with that city's notorious motorcycle messengers, the Motoboys. Suffice to say, Maddo is awake and revved up to perform.
With Brasilia the first-ever X-Fighters event to be free and open to the public, the only remaining questions is whether the crowd will be 10,000 or 100,000? This is a moto-loving culture, so I'm betting on the high end. I was here one month ago and saw an Iron Maiden concert with 20,000 of my closest Brazilian friends. Then, as I suspect they will on Saturday night, the Brazilians showed me that they know how to rock.