CLOVIS, N.M. – Paulo Lima hasn’t competed in multiple Built Ford Tough Series in three years, but the 29-year-old is now headed to the show courtesy of a 3-for-3 victory at the fifth annual L.J. Jenkins Invitational BlueDEF Tour event at the Curry County Events Center this weekend.
Lima, who was second entering the championship round, rode Wasted Wages for 86.5 points to position himself for the victory.
Event leader Valdiron de Oliveira then covered Silver Boding for 81.5 points, but it wasn’t enough to take back the lead in the event average.
The victory gives Lima an automatic bid for the 2016 BFTS season opener in Chicago on Jan. 9-10.
“I am very happy because this is the first year I have felt physically good in a long time,” Lima said through a translator. “I have no problems. Normally, I am injured all the time.”
Lima was cut from the BFTS in 2012 after qualifying for the Built Ford Tough World Finals in his first two seasons (2010-2011).
“I was riding hurt, but I am feeling healthy now and 100 percent,” Lima said. “My mind feels right now. That is important. I feel better than in 2012.”
Lima has gone 52-for-137 in his career on the BFTS. He competed in one event in 2013, where he 0-for-3.
He was won three career BFTS events and posted five 90-point rides.
Rounding out the Top-5 behind Lima and Oliveira was Marco Eguchi (169.5 points), Jess Lockwood (169.5) and Chase Robbins (169).
Eguchi was the only other rider to record a qualified ride in the championship round with an 84-point effort on JJ’s Dream.
Lima earned 80 points toward the 2016 world standings, while Oliveira earns 50 points. Eguchi and Lockwood split third and fourth for 25 points apiece.
Robbins earned 15 points.
Lima made easy work with all three of his qualified rides. In Round 2, Lima rode Rock Star for 84 points.
He had finished second in Round 1 with an 86-point ride aboard Yellow Hair.
“The ride on (Wasted Wages) felt good,” Lima said. “I had a good seat and felt confident. (Rock Star) went to the left and I had a good seat and I was able to ride him.”
Lockwood – the Round 1 winner – rode Off the Tracks for 82.5 points in the second round before being bucked off by Midnight Train in the championship round.
The high school senior walked up to Lima and shook his hand following the event and congratulated him on the victory.
Fellow 18-year-old Keyshawn Whitehorse won Round 2 with an 88.5-point ride on Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe.
“He wasn’t too bad,” Whitehorse said. “I liked him. He was real strong when he came around. He was a little welly. In the chute he was a little bit jerky, he jerked me down and gave me a little bit of a beating. I was trying to be more aggressive and finish him off strong.”
Whitehorse finished 1-for-3 and eighth overall.
Lima was shocked when he was informed he had won himself an automatic bid to the Chicago Invitational.
“I had no idea about Chicago,” Lima concluded. “I want to keep riding at this level, but I don’t know when I will go next before Chicago.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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