Defending champion Dany Torres of Spain is hoping to get his 2012 season back on track as the $1 million Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour returns to Europe for three stops in the six-stop campaign. Torres rejected criticism from U.S. rival Todd Potter that he shied away from the big step up last month in Glen Helen, California.
Danny Torres has recorded four of his six Red Bull X-Fighters career victories on European soil and so it is no wonder that the 2011 World Tour winner is glad to be back home in Europe to kick-start his campaign to defend his title. The Spaniard, 85 points behind Potter and back in 9th place, said he reinjured his ankle last month in training in California and that prevented him from taking on the giant 60-foot-high step-up. He dismissed criticism from Potter, who got his first career victory, that he and other riders were intimidated by the biggest step up in Red Bull X-Fighters history.
“At Glen Helen I did the step-up in training but I made a mistake one time and injured my ankle again so I decided to leave out the step-up – I decided ‘no, this isn’t for me this time’,” said Torres, when asked about Potter’s remarks. The judges rewarded Potter for his courage and aggressive riding with the victory -- as well as Frenchman Thomas Pages who got second and American newcomer Wes Agee who took third. All three showed a mastery of the leap while Torres (eighth) and New Zealand’s Levi Sherwood (seventh) were knocked out early after they skipped the awe-inspiring step up.
Torres, hoping for a victory or at least at podium in Istanbul to get his title defense on track, was taken aback by Potter’s remarks (“I think they need to suck it up and do it….you can’t just circle and hit a ramp and come back and hit another ramp,” Potter said.) Torres said he would do the step-up in an instant now that his ankle has healed: “I would do the step up now. My ankle is feeling good.”
Torres, looking for his first win since Madrid, says he clearly feels more comfortable at home in Europe, where the tracks, mentality and weather conditions are better suited. He has four of his wins in Europe: Madrid (2011 and 2009), Rome (2010) and Warsaw (2008). He won Dubai (2011) and Mexico City (2007). He has struggled this year with eighth in Dubai and eighth in Glen Helen.
“I’m really happy to be back home in Europe,” he said. “In Glen Helen I didn’t feel comfortable with the track. Now I’m feeling much better. And my ankle is feeling better. I still feel some pain. But it’s better than last month.” Torres had surgery on his ankle in January and there are still two screws holding his right ankle together. “It feels better and I can do all the tricks much better than a month ago.”
Torres -- who knows he could catapult himself near or on top of the top of the standings with three victories worth 100 points each in Istanbul, Madrid and Munich this summer – said the Mediterranean climate in Istanbul feels like Spain. He is, after all, only 85 points behind Potter with a maximum of 400 points still up for grabs for four wins in the final four stops. “I feel at home here,” he said. “In Turkey the weather is similar to in Spain right now. It’s also nice not to have to fly very far.”