New Zealand's young X-Fighter pilot Levi Sherwood saw his 80-point lead in the Red Bull X-Fighter International Freestyle Motocross 2012 series evaporate over the weekend in Munich, Germany.
The Kiwi arrived at Munich's Olympic Stadium hot from a close win over Dany Torres in the Spaniard's own backyard last month, and was looking to increase his lead with just the Sydney round to go at the beginning of October.
However, things didn't go according to plan and the Kiwi had to watch from the sidelines as the final was contested between Frenchman Thomas Pages and defending champion Torres. Pages pulled out all the stops and took the German title to move up the table to be equal on points with Sherwood on 235 points with Torres hovering a further 50 points back.
Sherwood was ousted by an on-fire Pages in the quarterfinals and had to settle for fifth place on the day. The Kiwi was happy to make the event after crashing in training and hurting his shoulder a couple of weeks before the weekend's contest.
He arrived in Germany having not ridden in anger since the accident and was looking to pick up as many points as possible to keep him in the race for the title. He managed to pick up 30 points to stay in the hunt.
"Munich wasn't quite what I was hoping for," Sherwood told Driven from Munich airport. "The injury wasn't really part of it as I felt I did the best I could and obviously I didn't have enough to beat Thomas [Pages] so that was that really.
"I'm still feeling confident about going into the last round in Sydney still in the lead and hopefully I can do a bit better there."
The last round of the series is at Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour and will be the second time the Red Bull X-Fighter International Freestyle Motocross has entertained the crowds there.
The island was recently added to the list of 11 World Heritage convict sites. It was an industrial school, a reformatory and a shipyard before the flying motocross circus arrived, with its massive crowds.
Sherwood competed there last year after recovering from a serious accident and knows the place well having been narrowly beaten in the final by local favourite Aussie Josh Sheehan.
The 20-year-old Kiwi rider intends to arrive on top of his game with all of the tricks in his bag highly tuned and ready to go. The repertoire of the X-Fighters riders is truly amazing, as are some of the names used to describe the various aeronautical acrobats that go on during the event. Some of the tricks witnessed between man and machine would easily put Olympic gymnasts to shame.
The riders will put together an aerial routine that will encompass any of the following: cliffhanger backflips, stalefish airs, Indian air heel clickers, dead body flips, flatliner whip, BASE jumpers, stripper flips, kiss of death flips, seat grab backflips, air turntables, holy grab airs, rodovas and the odd cordova.
"We try and work on the tricks we have to get then to be as good as they can be, and because we have a bit of time to practice before the Australian round, I'll be fine-tuning some tricks and maybe looking at some improvements or tweaks," said Sherwood.
If he does gain enough points to win the 2012 championship, the title will mean almost more to Sherwood than the $1.3 million he'll collect in prize money.
"It's a really big deal to win the title. I've been wanting to win ever since I started riding and it's been a goal of mine for a long time. It seems like I've been doing it a lot longer than I actually have. When I think about it I still have a lot longer in the sport if I play it right," said Sherwood.
"I don't think about it very often, but occasionally I realise that I'm doing what I always wanted to do at the highest level and I appreciate the opportunities I do have."