Japan has again been host to the best FMX riders in the world and the biggest event in the motorbike sport on the planet, “Red Bull X-Fighters.” The atmosphere in front of the Osaka Castle was hot in every sense. Sunshine and very warm weather, plus tricks that riders were performing simply contributed to the very high temperature.
Unlike last year when the event was organized at night, this time we had a daily event which opened entirely new opportunities for photography. The real battle occured that weekend when the elite contenders flew up to 15 meters high over the track at Osaka Castle. The spectators, including Taiko Drummers, as well as fans in manga-style costumes, were closer to the action than at any other stop in the X-Fighters series.
At the ancient walls of Japan’s most famous castle, more than 20,000 fans turned out for Red Bull X-Fighters weekend in Osaka, thrilling to an epic battle of skills. The riders were like a new breed of samurai, going huge on a course that demanded everything in their arsenal of tricks.
By the end of the second stop of the 2014 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour in Osaka on May 25, one thing was clear: New Zealand’s Levi Sherwood is the man to beat as the world’s most prestigious freestyle motocross event series moves into its critical summer stage. Rémi Bizouard of France earned second-place honors, with Dany Torres of Spain in third.
Hometown hero Taka Higashino, who in 2013 won the Osaka event and finished in third place for the season, earned eighth place after skipping Qualifying due to injury. Nonetheless, he expanded his traditionally classic repertoire by adding a Body Varial.
A smiling Sherwood, who despite his young age is associated with perfecting the traditional style of classic FMX riding, said, “I like to push the riding part of freestyle – in FMX you have to both ride a bike and do big tricks. Where I want to see FMX go is really pushing riding skills and course design.” He added, “I’m stoked right now. You can see the love of freestyle here in Japan.”
France’s Thomas Pagès did not feel comfortable on the course and decided to sit out one day of the competition, feeling that due to his riding style and the level of difficulty of his unique tricks, for him the risk of injury could be too high.
This was the second time that Red Bull X-Fighters was held in Japan – The Land of the Rising Sun. Although I photographed a lot of the previous stops over the past years of this competition, I would separate this one again in Japan as one of the best Red Bull X-Fighters so far.