BRAZIL – The 2017 Built Ford Tough Series Rookie of the Year race features three of the brightest Brazilian stars to arrive in the United States in recent memory.
Claudio Montanha Jr., 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro and 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa have all translated their promise in Brazil into success on the PBR’s elite level.
483.3 points currently separate the Brazilian trio from current rookie leader Cody Teel, who already has a 2012 PRCA championship buckle on his resume.
Back in Brazil, though, another crop of impressive rookies have been battling for their own prestigious Rookie of the Year title.
Considering the track record of some of Brazil’s young stars, it may not be long until they arrive on the Built Ford Tough Series in the coming years if they choose to make the trek to North America.
PBR Brazil No. 1 Lucas Divino, No. 2 Jose Vitor Leme, No. 6 Junior Patrik, No. 9 Joao Augusto Cezere and No. 10 Alex Cerqueira are all in the running to win not only the 2017 PBR Brazil Championship, but the PBR Brazil Rookie of the Year title as well.
The 2017 PBR Brazil champion receives an invite to compete at the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals in Las Vegas on Oct. 28-30. At the Velocity Finals, the PBR Brazil champion can compete to earn a wild card spot for the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5.
The spectacular crop of rookies has drawn the praise of a legend of the sport.
"They are all new competitors, and they are proving to be very focused and competitive,” three-time World Champion, and Director of PBR Brazil, Adriano Moraes told PBR Brazil’s Jorge Cardoso. “They each have a different technique and style. If any of them wins the title of Brazilian champion and Rookie of the Year, it will undoubtedly be an important achievement in their careers."
Castro was the last rider to achieve that accomplishment when he did so in 2015. He also won the prestigious bull riding title at the 2015 Barretos event.
The 21-year-old knows how difficult it is to succeed on Brazil’s top-level as a first-year competitor, and knows that success at this level is nothing to sneeze at.
Now a rising star in the BFTS, Castro is excited that such an exciting group of youngsters may repeat his amazing feat and perhaps join him on the PBR’s elite-tour.
"It's three very important titles for any competitor. This shows how the sport has grown and become increasingly competitive,” Castro said. "The important thing is for them to concentrate and fight bull to bull and do the best possible."
Divino is currently 202.5 points ahead of Leme in the PBR Brazil standings. The pair have switched positions at the top over the past few events, with Divino retaking the lead after wins at the PBR Brazil Iron Cowboy qualifier and Divinopolis.
Divino’s rise has PBR world standings implications as well. His performance in Brazil has moved him to No. 47 in the world standings (200 world points), and he may be able to come to the U.S. and compete in the second half if he cracks the Top 35 and gets travel approval.
Meanwhile, Patrik has kept up with the pack courtesy of a victory in Maringa. Cezere also used a huge victory at PBR Brazil’s Iron Cowboy event in Americana to jump into the race himself.
Cerqueira rounds out the Top 10 in the PBR Brazil standings with 440 points after finishing as the runner-up in his first PBR Brazil event in Londrina.
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