By: Justin Felisko
January 06, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
Today, we look at Joao Ricardo Vieira, who finished the 2015 season third in the world standings.
No. 3 Joao Ricardo Vieira
World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: fourth (2015)
2015 BFTS Stats:
Riding Percentage: 45.98 percent
Top Ride: 92.25 points on Walk Off in Seattle
Wins: 2 (Last Cowboy Standing & Iron Cowboy)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 1 (Seattle)
Round Wins: 5
Top 10: 9
Top 5: 6
90-point Rides: 3
2015 Recap: Joao Ricardo Vieira was the No. 1 rider for nine consecutive events until an 8-for-26 performance (30.77 percent) over those final events, combined with 2015 World Champion J.B. Mauney’s second-half surge, led to Vieira coming up short by 2,305 points in the final standings.
In fact, Vieira was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the standings for the final 15 weeks of the season before dropping to third during the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
It was a 3,307.5-point swing for Vieira, and a crushing defeat.
“It was disappointing,” Vieira said during the World Finals, “but I will be ready for next year to try again.”
Vieira also did not want to blame his second-half collapse on injuries despite trying to compete with an injured right knee/shin, riding wrist, sprained left MCL and bruised thigh during the final three months of the season.
The 31-year-old took over the world lead from Matt Triplett in Seattle, the same event in which he rode Walk Off for 92.25 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
He would be the No. 1 rider in the world standings until Mauney overtook him in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Vieira made his march to the No. 1 ranking by first winning Iron Cowboy in February – the first PBR Major in PBR history – to jump from 26th to fifth in the world standings.
He then entered the summer break with a 1,002.5-point lead on No. 2 Triplett – the largest lead of any No. 1 ranked rider this season at that point – by winning the second PBR Major of the year (Last Cowboy Standing).
Vieira won a combined $383,233.33 with two PBR Major (Iron Cowboy and Last Cowboy Standing) victories and headed into the summer break with a 1,002.5 point-lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett – the largest lead of any No. 1 ranked rider this season at that point.
If not for his two PBR Major victories, which accounted for 46.78 percent of his world points, Vieira would not have been in the world title conversation last season.
However, Vieira did do above average in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, finishing the year 8-for-19. The eight qualified rides were second-most in the PBR behind Mauney’s 10.
Outlook: Joao Ricardo Vieira is one of the more compelling riders heading into the 2016 season.
Is Vieira a true world title contender? Or is he only a rider that used the PBR Majors to keep himself in contention last year until his second-half collapse?
Only time will tell what Vieira will be able to accomplish this coming year.
Vieira has finished inside the Top-3 of the world standings in each of his first three seasons, but he has yet to finish a BFTS season with a riding average above 50 percent. His highest riding percentage was
That will be Vieira’s biggest challenge in 2016 if he hopes to indeed become a true contender. Many agree that Vieira is one of the best at riding bulls into his hand (left), but he has been so poor riding bulls away from his hand that some believe he may never be able to win a world title.
According to the PBR Media Guide, no World Champion in the past 16 years has won the world title with a less than 50 percent riding average. Mauney had the lowest riding percentage among World Champions since 2000 with a 52.22-percent success rate in 2013.
The objective is clear for Vieira, who has a career riding average of 45.85 percent. He needs to ride bulls in both directions and raise his riding percentage above 50 percent if he hopes to be a true threat to Mauney and Silvano Alves – the two riders who have won the past five World Championships.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.