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Season Countdown: No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira

PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2015 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Friday night inside Baltimore’s Royal Farms 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 2014 season.

Today, we look at Joao Ricardo Vieira, who finished the 2014 season second in the world standings.

Joao Ricardo Vieira

World Championships: 0

2014 BFTS Stats:

Rides: 41

Attempts: 93

Riding Percentage: 44.09

Wins: 2 (St. Louis, Missouri; Iron Cowboy)

Top 10: 14

Top 5: 10

90-point Rides: 5

High Score: 90.75 points on Stone Sober (Anaheim, Calif.) andSmackdown (St. Louis, Missouri)

2014 Season Recap: Throughout the 2014 season you could find Joao Ricardo Vieira’s name close to the top of the leaderboard at Built Ford Tough Series events. Vieira led the PBR with a career-high 10 Top-5 finishes and finished second behind Guilherme Marchi for the most Top-10 finishes with 14, which was also a career-best.

Vieira, who won two events (St. Louis, Mo., and Iron Cowboy), eventually took over the top spot in the world standings following his 13th-place finish in Springfield, Missouri, during the second week of September and would hold on to the No. 1 position until losing it to Silvano Alves on the final day of the Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Vieira entered the Finals in the driver’s seat for his first career world title and brought a 511.63-point lead into the event on No. 2 Fabiano Vieira. However, Joao Ricardo Vieira would buck off his final three – four if you count his failed attempt on Jared Allen’s Air Time that resulted in a re-ride – bulls inside the Thomas & Mack Center and finish the year second in the world standings as Alves went a perfect 6-for-6 in Las Vegas.

Even though his riding percentage dropped slightly from 48.61 percent during his 2013 Rookie of the Year season to 44.09 in 2014, Vieira showed that his third-place finish in 2013 was no mistake and that he has the talent to compete with the top riders in the BFTS.

Vieira also won the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Anaheim, California, with a 90.75-point ride on Shepherd Hills Stockman.

2014 Highlight Moment: Vieira bounces back from buckoff to win in St. Louis

One of Vieira’s best performances of 2014 was one that demonstrated the Itatinga, Brazil, bull rider’s perseverance. Vieira earned his first win of the season by riding his final three bulls in St. Louis, Missouri, following a first-round buckoff on Spin City.

Vieira responded by first riding Throbbin Robin in Round 2 for 84 points. He then earned 87 points on Electric Prune and 90.75 points on Smackdown on the final day of action at the Scottrade Center.

It was his third 90-point ride in a span of two weeks after previously riding Deer Me (90 points) and Shepherd Hills Stockman (90.75) in Anaheim, California.

2015 Outlook: Justin McBride and Ty Murray say it is quite simple for Vieira. The 30-year-old bull rider entering his third year on the BFTS needs to improve his ability to ride bulls away from his hand.

McBride believes Vieira will always be in contention for a world title, but he will continue to fall just short until he is able to successfully ride bulls away from his hand on a consistent basis.

“He is really good into his hand. I have seen better into their hand than him, but he is really flipping good. He is strong and rides good, but he is horrible away from his hand. He is not just bad, he is horrible,” McBride said before sighing. “There is no way to win a World Championship that way. It is just not going to happen. That is it, cut and dry. He has to find somebody and he has to get it together and learn to ride bulls away from his hand.”

In many instances, Murray believes riders who struggle away from their hands due to a mental error. It was a comment he made about Guilherme Marchi’s own struggles last season, however, he is not sure what is holding Vieira back from making the next step in his development.

“I think he has to adjust that,” Murray said. “I think whether it is just mental or physical – or both – that is something he is going to have to figure it out. Whether it is through watching film, the practice pen, exercising or something, he is going to have to fix that.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.