PUEBLO, Colo. – The race to qualify for the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals is once again as tight as can be with only eight Built Ford Tough Series regular-season events remaining.
Every rider in the PBR is fighting to crack the Top 35 and cement themselves a spot for the World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas, but the BFTS is not the only path to T-Mobile Arena.
In fact, a rider’s performance on the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour and PBR Touring Pro Division events can be the difference-maker between competing in the state-of-the-art arena just off the Las Vegas Strip or staying at home on the couch.
Ramon de Lima is one rider that is trying to use the PBR’s non-BFTS events to spearhead his way to his first World Finals qualification.
“I stayed here for a long summer,” Lima said. “I was thinking I needed to get good points this summer to get inside the Top 35.”
Lima went home to Rio Branco, Brazil, for 15 days this summer before returning to the United States to try and crack the Top 35.
He did just that and used a TPD victory in Sterling, Colorado, earlier this month to earn 60 world points and jump up to No. 30 in the world standings.
The 26-year-old clinched a spot in the draw for the Built Ford Tough Music City Knockout last weekend, where he was bucked off by Slip Out in 2.1 seconds, after earning 245 points during the BFTS summer break.
Now Lima is trying to hold onto his spot in the Top 35 with the BFTS on break this weekend by competing at the Velocity Tour event in Salinas, California, on Saturday night.
The event is crucial for Lima as he only leads No. 35 Brock Radford, one of the absolute hottest riders in Canada, by 35.84 points in the world standings.
“This is really important,” Lima said with the help of Silvano Alves translating. “I dream to be in the Top 35. It is good because there are good points. Every time I go to the Velocity Tour, I get points to qualify for the World Finals.”
Riders earn 80 points toward the world standings with Velocity Tour victories. Therefore, anyone ranked between No. 31-41 in standings could push ahead of Lima this weekend in theory.
There is also a Velocity Tour event in Eureka, Montana, on Saturday night, as well as a TPD event in West Monroe, Louisiana.
The Velocity Tour, though, is another path for riders to pursue in their hunt for the World Finals with 11 regular-season Velocity Tour events remaining on the docket.
Four riders from the Velocity Tour will receive an invitation to compete at the World Finals at the conclusion of the Velocity Tour Finals (Oct. 28-30).
The top two-ranked riders from the Velocity Tour standings, who are not already qualified for the PBR World Finals, will receive an invitation to compete at the World Finals.
Once those two positions are filled, the final two Wild Card spots for the World Finals will come from the Velocity Tour Finals event results.
The top two finishing riders in the Velocity Finals, who are not already qualified for the World Finals, will receive an invitation to compete in the World Finals, provided that such rider(s) finished in the Top 5 in the Velocity Finals event results.
If the Top-5 finishers at the Velocity Finals have already qualified for the World Finals, then the remaining two positions will be filled based off the final Velocity Tour standings.
Lima is currently third in the Velocity Tour standings and trails Velocity Tour leader Derek Kolbaba by only 17.5 points. Velocity No. 2 Fabiano Vieira is five points behind Kolbaba.
Cody Campbell and Robson Aragao are the two highest-ranked Velocity Tour riders that are not in the Top 35 as of now.
Lima has been one of the best riders at the Velocity Tour level by going 17-for-31 (54.84 percent) in 16 events. His 17 rides are tied with Alex Marcilio for the Velocity Tour lead.
“It helps a lot because all of the best bulls over there, some bulls buck in Velocity and here (on the BFTS) at the same time,” Lima said. “I think all of those bulls help me over here.”
BFTS riders continuing to ride
The BFTS may be on break this weekend, but plenty of riders inside the Top 35 are hitting the grind on Saturday night.
Joining Lima in Salinas is No. 7 Vieira, No. 10 Cody Teel, No. 15 Rubens Barbosa, No. 18 Claudio Montanha Jr., No. 19 Marco Eguchi, No. 22 Dener Barbosa, No. 23 Luciano de Castro, No. 29 Koal Livingston and No. 31 Emilio Resende.
Out east in Eureka, No. 24 Stetson Lawrence, No. 25 Mike Lee, No. 26 Gage Gay and No. 32 Dakota Buttar will be nodding their heads.
No. 5 Chase Outlaw will try to gain ground in the world title race in Louisiana.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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