The Red Bull X-Fighters event in Istanbul, Turkey, was cancelled on Saturday due to strong crosswinds at the location in the shadows of the Yedikule Dungeons castle in old Istanbul near the shores of the Marmara Sea.
The first-ever Red Bull X-Fighters tour stop in Turkey had to be cancelled due to strong winds gusting up to 45kph. The $1 million six-stop 2012 World Tour will thus be reduced to five stops. "The number one priority for us is the safety of the athletes," said sports director Tes Sewell. "What the 12 best FMX riders do takes an incredible amount of skill and precision and it can be very dangerous when it goes wrong. For all of us it's disappointing not to be able to give the Turkish fans the pinnacle of this sport and show them the highest level of Freestyle Motocross."
Heavy winds had buffeted the location over the last few days forcing the cancellation of the practice sessions as well as qualifying, which was abandoned after several postponements on Saturday morning. The riders have to jump up to 15 metres high on their motorbikes, flying about 30 metres through the air.
Crew members had already worked around the clock to move the event location from the original site inside the Yedikule Dungeons after local authorities revoked their permits, establishing a new arena just outside the castle by the seaside. Moving tonnes of dirt and the entire race infrastructure in such a short time was a Herculean task but the track was up and ready for the event before the heavy winds set in.
Heavy gusts of winds at up to 45kph coming from different directions proved to be too treacherous to go forward with the competition. “At this level of competition you don't have any room for mistakes," said Sewell. "If your motorcycle is blowing off the course it may cause you to land sideways or not get the wheels down. And if you're detached from the motorcycle and it gets blown, then you might not be able to get back to it. So wind is a huge factor."
The next stop of the 2012 World Tour will be in Madrid on July 20 at the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, an iconic bullring that has been on the Red Bull X-Fighters calendar for more than a decade. The tour then moves on to Munich, Germany on August 11 before concluding in Sydney, Australia on October 6.