BILOXI, Miss. – 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi may not be able to pinpoint what has led to his 4-for-16 second-half slump and drop from atop the world standings, but he does know that he needs to get things going in the right direction quickly.
“It’s bad. It’s bad. I don’t know what’s happened,” Marchi said. “I feel good. I have been working real hard at home. Maybe, that’s my problem. I am working too hard.”
After seeing the 32-year-old sit atop the world standings for 11 weeks during the first half of the season, many believe this is potentially Marchi’s best, final chance at winning a second world title.
The stress that comes with pushing for a World Championship, along with a stretch of three weeks where Marchi only recorded one qualified ride last month, have all led to the third-ranked rider in the world standings pressing more than normal.
“I think so. I need to relax a little bit more,” Marchi said. “No matter what, to be a champion I need to cover my bulls and make points. In three, four weeks I rode one bull. That never happened with me in my career.”
Marchi enters the Built Ford Tough Series Battle at the Beau 935.69 points behind world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira. It is the most points he has been behind all season since trailing then-leader Mike Lee by 653.75 points after four BFTS events.
He had been the world leader for most of the season, sitting atop the world standings for a combined 13 weeks before Joao Ricardo Vieira reclaimed the No. 1 spot three weeks ago in Springfield, Missouri. Marchi has used 13 Top-10 finishes, as well as six Top-5 placements to remain a world contender all year.
No. 2 Fabiano Vieira begins the Battle at the Beau trailing Joao Ricardo Vieira by 578.88 points, while defending event champion and No. 4 ranked rider Mike Lee is 956.94 points behind. Two-time World Champion remains in the hunt despite falling back of the spot by 1,103.94 points.
After breaking a 0-for-9 streak without a ride last week by riding Cali’s Cruel Intentions for 83 points in Round 2 of the Kawasaki Strong Battle at the Bay, Marchi hopes he can turn things around this weekend.
“That felt good,” Marchi said. “I just try to keep my head strong and try to ride my bulls and cover my bulls and see what will happen. Hopefully this is the beginning.”
He will take on Butchers Nightmare in Round 1 on Friday night at Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
Marchi spent this week working alongside Robson Palermo and getting on practice bulls in Decatur, Texas, in preparation for this weekend.
He says his right knee injury (PCL) that he suffered at Last Cowboy Standing isn’t affecting his riding, but it is affecting his ability to train. Therefore, he has gained some weight that he is hoping to shed before the World Finals.
“I used some weights and I kind of a bigger guy and it makes it tight to ride them bulls,” Marchi said. “I try to ride so strong that I think that is what is making me not ride so good. I love to run, but I cannot run now because of my knee. When I run it makes me feel better and feel good.”
Following this weekend, there is one remaining BFTS regular season event, which takes place in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as well as the Monster Energy Bulls on the Beach 15/15 Bucking Battle in Huntington Beach, California.
Therefore, Marchi has roughly three events to regain his confidence before World Finals, where he has had great success for the majority of his career. Not only did he win the 2005 World Finals event average, but he has posted a Top-10 finish in eight of the last 10 World Finals. Marchi has finished at least tied for fifth place in three of the past four Finals.
It’s why he knows that even though he has struggled as of late, there is still time to right the ship and win that coveted second world title.
“At the Finals I have a chance to be a champion,” Marchi concluded. “Right now, I need to get back to the position I was in for a couple of months (atop the standings) and end strong.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.