FORT WORTH, Texas ― Spring has only been upon us for a few weeks and the snow is only now just beginning to melt in some places—making the talk of summer seem premature.
However, with 13 of 26 Built Ford Tough Series events already in the record books and only another five between now and the three-month long summer break, some of the top riders in the PBR world standings have already begun considering their summer schedule.
It should come as little surprise that no one has ridden better thanGuilherme Marchi.
What might surprise some is the fact that the 2008 World Champion, who has been the No. 1 ranked rider for nearly two months, is not planning to spend his summer break in Brazil as he has in past years.
Instead he and his family – wife, Patricia, and their children, Manuela and Joao Gabriel – will stay in Ferris, Texas, minus a two-week trip down to their home country that will overlap with the Silvano Alves Invitational in late June.
Other than that, Marchi plans to primarily rest during the break.
“Maybe I go to a couple (U.S.) events, but not a lot,” Marchi said. “I want to take some time too and rest—a few I go to.”
His parents – both of whom are retired – are planning to spend the summer in the States. Marchi also has a sister living in Boston.
After contemplating the current standings, Marchi said he wouldn’t be opposed to competing a couple times a month, but would prefer to stay close to home.
In fact, in the last couple weeks of May alone, there are three TPD events in Texas, including the annual J.W. Hart PBR Challenge on May 31 in Decatur. Marchi likes the idea of a one-day event coupled with the notion of going home with his family the same evening.
“Yes sir, that’s me,” he laughed. “Not too far—Decatur.”
He added, “I know I need to go to a couple events to make some points too, but I’m not going to go every week.”
L.J. Jenkins, on the other hand, plans to greatly increase his schedule over last year.
In 2013, he focused on hauling bulls.
“I’m going to go a lot harder,” Jenkins said. “I might take a break here and there. I might have went to one or two last year, but I want to get quite a few under my belt this year. I think a lot of the guys are going to because a lot of guys in the Top 10 are some younger guys and you know they’re going to go, so that’s going to force some older guys to go too.”
Mike Lee, 4th, Cody Nance, 9th, and Matt Triplett, 10th, are currently in the Top 10 and all three are known for competing year-round.
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The next 10 spots in the standings include the likes of Gage Gay, 13th,Stormy Wing, 15th, Tanner Byrne, 17th, Markus Mariluch, 18th, and Kasey Hayes, 19th, who have all maintained heavy summer workloads in recent years and, as Jenkins mentioned, may set the pace for the others.
Everyone outside the Top 20 will most certainly compete as often as possible.
Alves, 12th, who competed at a pair of TPD’s early last summer, said he plans to return home to Brazil within days of the Last Cowboy Standing. Each of the Brazilian riders on the BFTS has committed to competing at Alves’ PBR-sanctioned event in Pilar do Sul.
Joao Ricardo Vieira, 2nd, Fabiano Vieira, 3rd, Valdiron de Oliveira, 5th,Marco Eguchi, 7th, and Emilio Resende, 8th, will also be competing in Brazil throughout the summer.
In a brief conversation with Marchi and Alves, Jenkins indicated that he was interested in a short trip to Brazil for Alves’ event. Jenkins, who has never competed in Brazil, said as the end of his career nears he’d the like the opportunity to experience what the PBR has to offer.
“I’m worried about up here first,” laughed Jenkins.
He’s currently ranked 11th in the world and is eyeing his first world title.
“A lot of guys are going to bust their butts harder in the summer than they did on this tour, but, I mean, that’s what you have to do if you want to make up a bunch of ground,” Jenkins said. “There are guys like Guilherme – the No. 1 guy in the world – if he doesn’t go there are a bunch of guys who can make up a bunch of ground. There a lot of big Touring Pros that can give you a bunch of a points. It just depends on if guys are going to go or not.”
Everyone is aware of how well Nance, Chase Outlaw and Jory Markisswere able to finish in last year’s final standings, largely based on their summer success. Nance was fifth, Markiss, 11th and Outlaw 13th. In 2013, Nance more than doubled his total points from any of his previous four seasons and 2,800 of those were earned at TPD events.
It’s deceiving to think there are still half the BFTS events remaining.
This summer could, in fact, hold the key to a $1 million fortune that’s not paid to the World Champion until October.
Marchi and others are definitely waiting for confirmation as to which summer events will offer 50 percent of the points as opposed to the customary 25 percent.
Then again, Marchi saw what Mauney was able to accomplish a year ago.
He was fresh and healthy in the second half, which led to winning five of the last nine BFTS events and the World Finals average. Mauney came from 10th in the standings to the top in winning the world title on the final day of the 2013 season.
Pending the outcome of his injured left hand and wrist, Mauney indicated he’ll follow the same summer plan this year as he did a year ago.
As a reward for being the No. 1 rider in the world, Marchi would like to “spend time with my family, my kids and my wife,” but he’ll wait and see how the next five weeks unfold.
“I want to rest and come back strong after the break,” he concluded.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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