I am back from holidays and we are halfway through the 2018 PBR Season so I thought this would be a great time to recap the first half of the year.
It was a rough start to the year for PBR Australia riders but we go into the summer break with 13 riders in the top 100 of the PBR World Standings.
Nathan Burtenshaw is the best placed Australian and ranks 26th in the PBR World Standings after covering 44.19% of his bulls for 2018. The 23-year-old bull rider is 2290 points behind World Number 1, Brazilian Kaique Pacheco and had picked up points at his last 4 events on the 25th PBR Unleash the Beast Tour in the USA before breaking his collarbone in Round 2 at the Tacoma Invitational in April. Nathan will take 4-6 weeks to heal up and will be ready for the Global Cup in Sydney next month.
Kiwi Fraser Babbington has been competing exclusively in Australia so far in 2018 and sits 31st in the World Standings with 20 rides from 31 attempts so far this season. Babbington also sits 2nd in the PBR Australia National Standings heading into this weekend’s PBR Australia Touring Pro event in Rockhampton.
Sitting just outside the Top 35 in the World Standings is a cluster of Australians including Cody Heffernan (37th), Aaron Kleier (38th) and Justin Paton (39th). Heffernan returned to the Top Tier Tour in Tacoma after riding 6 straight bulls in Shepparton and Wodonga. Aaron Kleier is the current Number 1 cowboy on the PBR Australia National Standings covering nearly 60% of his bulls this season including a massive 89.50 on Sweet Pro’s Hillbilly Deluxe in the championship round at Wodonga. Justin Paton recorded back to back wins at Wodonga and Julia Creek in April and has ridden 11 of his 14 bulls in 2018.
Cliff Richardson (47th) is the only other rider in the Top 50 with Troy Wilkinson (55th), Jason Mara (64th), Bailey Woodard (65th), Kurt Shephard (71st), Lawson Nobbs (74th), Lachlan Richardson (80th) and Budd Williamson (87th) inside the Top 100.
25th PBR Unleash the Beast Tour
Six PBR Australia Cowboys have competed on the Top Tier tour so far this year with Nathan Burtenshaw, Cody Heffernan, Troy Wilkinson, Kurt Shephard, Lawson Nobbs and Lachlan Richardson all getting their shot under the bright lights.
We kicked off the season with 2017 World Finals qualifiers Richardson and Wilkinson on tour for the first event in New York City with Burtenshaw joining the tour in Week 2 in Chicago and Shephard qualifying the following week in Oklahoma City.
Rides were hard to come by with the Aussies going a combined 5 rides from 41 attempts through the first 5 events of the season.
Following the Anaheim Invitational, there were no Australians left in the Top 35 of the World Standings until Nathan Burtenshaw re-qualified for the Duluth Invitational thanks to a 2nd place finish in Worcester and an event win a week later in Hampton on the Velocity Tour. Since returning to the UTB Tour in Duluth, Burtenshaw has ridden 7 of his 15 bulls, racking up 385 Points towards the World Standings and winning $19,000 in prize money despite missing Championship Sunday in Albuquerque due to a concussion suffered in Round 2 and breaking his collarbone in Round 2 in Tacoma. The Coonamble cowboy’s best result was a 3rd place finish in Glendale where he was 3-for-3 and covered Nailed for 89.0 points in the Championship Round.
Cody Heffernan returned to the tour in Tacoma for the final 5 events before the summer break following some strong results here in Australia but has failed to fire bucking off his last 7 bulls. Troy Wilkinson qualified for the UTB Tour stops in Albuquerque and Billings after some strong Velocity Tour events but was unable to capitalise on the opportunity. Lachlan Richardson and Lawson Nobbs also competed in Billings but were both unable to cover their draws.
The 25th PBR Unleash the Beast Tour returns on the 11th August with the Express Employment Professionals classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour
Nathan Burtenshaw is the best placed Australian rider in the Velocity Tour standings, sitting 6th despite only attending 4 events this year. He has covered 5 of his 6 bulls and is only 50 points in arrears of leader Colten Jesse.
Upper Horton’s Troy Wilkinson has competed in 9 events on the Velocity Tour and is currently ranked 17th. Wilkinson has recorded three Top 5 finishes in his last 6 events.
Lawson Nobbs (41st), Kurt Shephard (47th) and Lachlan Richardson (54) are all within 200 points of the top ranked rider heading into the summer break with the tour returning in August for the Bulls of Summer event in Salinas, California.
USA Touring Pro Division
It’s very early in the TPD Season with the majority of events occurring during the summer break with around 25 events scheduled between now and when the UTB and RVT Tours recommence. I am sure there will be plenty of Aussies paying their entry fees hoping to make up ground in the race to qualify for the 2018 PBR World Finals.
There is still plenty of bull riding to come in the extended 2018 PBR Australia Season but after 18 events, its Clermont’s Aaron Kleier on top of the standings with a 292.42 point lead over Fraser Babbington. Kleier and Babbington tied for the win in Newcastle late last year and have been going neck and neck since. Kleier has taken home five event titles this season including the 2017 Iron Cowboy and has been a model of consistency finishing in the Top 10 seventeen times while Babbington also has five event wins for the season with another five Top 3 results from just 13 events.
Gresford’s Cliff Richardson is chasing hard in third, 1545.82 points adrift of Kleier following a win in Yass and a second placing in Wodonga. Singleton’s Cody Heffernan is close behind Richardson in forth after finishing first and second in Shepparton collecting 175 points for one nights work and Justin Paton from Nebo, Queensland rounds out the Top 5 following his back to back wins at Wodonga and Julia Creek.
Following this weekend’s Rockhampton Beef Week Touring Pro event, the Monster Energy Tour heads north for the Cairns Invitational on 2-June. Don’t forget the world best riders will be at the Global Cup when it heads to Sydney on the 9-10 June with the PBR Australia’s Last Cowboy Standing in Brisbane the following weekend.
Stay tuned to Ride the Rage for live updates on all the upcoming PBR Action.