Tom Pages of France beat Osaka’s hometown hero Taka Higashino in Friday’s nerve-wracking Qualifying session in front of Osaka Castle ahead of the first-ever Red Bull X-Fighters event in Japan on Saturday. Defending World Tour winner Levi Sherwood ate some serious dirt on his second run but still managed to take third.
Tom Pages and Dany Torres. photo: Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool
Frenchman Tom Pages needed a world-class performance to beat Japan’s high-flying ace Taka Higashino in a spine-tingling Red Bull X-Fighters Qualifying round on Friday in front of the majestic Osaka Castle, winning a thrilling battle for pole position going into Saturday’s main event that will be held on Japanese soil for the first time. In the world’s most prestigious freestyle motocross World Tour.
Taka Higashino – holy grab. photo: Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool
Pages aced three of the most exciting tricks ever created – the Volt, the Special Flip and a new version of the Flair – to take first with 87.6 points ahead of Osaka’s very own Higashino with 86.9 points. New Zealand’s Levi Sherwood had to settle for third with 86.2 points after he slammed on a second-round jump, flying off the back of his bike on an awkward upright landing.
Levi Sherwood – backflip hart attck. photo: Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool
Spain’s Dany Torres, the winner in Dubai, took fourth in Qualifying, American Adam Jones was fifth and Australia’s Rob Adelberg, who won the last round in the United States, was sixth.
Dany Torres – cliffhanger. photo: Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool
Pages, who won the 2013 season opener in Mexico City, dazzled the crowd of spectators on the compact track built with great care in Osaka’s famous Nishinomaru Garden with the brightly lit Osaka Castle providing a spectacular backdrop for the first East Asian Red Bull X-Fighters ever.
“I did my absolute best tonight and don’t think I can do anything better tomorrow,” said Pages after throwing the Special Flip , the Volt and a Flair variation. “If I can do that again in the finals like that I’ll be very happy. It was very stressful for me.”
Tom pages throwing a volt. photo: Jason Halayko/Red Bull Content Pool
Earlier on Friday, Daice Suzuki (JPN) won the Japanese Wild Card competition and qualified for the main event on Saturday.
FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS:
1. Tom Pages
2. Taka Higashino
3. Levi Sherwood
4. Dany Torres
5. Adam Jones
6. Rob Adelberg
7. Javier Villegas
8. Mat Rebeaud
9. David Renald
10. Daice Suzuki
11. Todd Potter
12. Josh Sheehan