Jose Vitor Leme delivers third-place finish in opening round of the PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, to extend lead atop 2023 PBR World Championship
TULSA, Okla. – As a boisterous crowd inside a packed BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, watched on Friday night, Austin Richardson (Dallas, Texas) shone bright, delivering the top score in Round 1 of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event to surge to an early lead at the Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Richardson, however, is locked within the sights of two-time PBR World Champion Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil), who finished third in the opening round to extend his lead atop the race for this season’s gold buckle.
Richardson was tasked with Huckleberry (Buckin Fun Group/Twisted Horn Ranch) in Round 1 of the Sooner State event. Proving the perfect pair, Richardson matched the powerful animal athlete jump-for-jump en route to an 89.75-point score.
In addition to giving the young Texan the event lead by 0.75 points ahead of Championship Saturday, the score also garnered Richardson a much-needed 28 Unleash The Beast points. Ranked No. 41 entering the tour stop, Richardson rose six positions to No. 35.
On the spurs of his PBR-best third Unleash The Beast victory of the season last weekend in Sacramento, California, which allowed him to take over the No. 1 rank in the standings for the first time in 2023, Leme’s momentum continued to roll.
As the last man out of the chutes, Leme brought the Oklahoma crowd to a roar when he dominated Diamond In The Ruff (H Bar E/Squirrel Creek/Robison) for 88.75 points. When the dust settled, Leme concluded Round 1 in third place, one point behind event leader Richardson.
The podium finish earned Leme 17 Unleash The Beast points, allowing him to expand his lead over No. 2 Andrew Alvidrez (Seminole, Texas), who is not competing this week due to injury, to 132.5 points.
Rafael Henrique dos Santos (Quitman, Georgia) was second, collecting 18 Unleash The Beast points.
Santos earned the silver showing in Round 1 courtesy of his 89-point effort atop Bad Spider (Shuler Bucking Bulls).
With 12 riders delivering scores in Round 1, when the round ended, it was Afonso Quintino (Sao Luis dos Montes Belos, Brazil) who was fourth.
Quintino’s 87.5-point ride aboard In My Blood (Nothin’ Buy Try Ranch/’Diggers Bucking Bulls) earned him 16 Unleash The Beast points.
The Brazilian newcomer rose from unranked to No. 50 in the 2023 PBR World Championship race.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was Manoelito de Souza Junior (Itamira, Brazil).
Souza bested Buster Brown (Cord McCoy/CCL Bucking Bulls/McCoy Rodeo) for 86.5 points to take home 15 Unleash The Beast points. He rose one position in the rankings from No. 25 to No. 24.
Action for the PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will conclude with Round 2 and the championship round on Saturday, Feb. 11. Action gets underway at 6:45 p.m. CST.
PBR RidePass on Pluto TV will offer re-airs and on-demand replays of every PBR Unleash The Beast event. PBR RidePass is available on desktops, laptops and mobile devices via www.pluto.tv. Click here for on-demand PBR programming.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
BOK Center – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
(tie). Rafael Jose de Brito, 82.5-0-0-82.50-8.5 Points.
Cooper Davis, 0-0-0-0.00
Dalton Kasel, 0-0-0-0.00
Thiago Salgado, 0-0-0-0.00
Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0.00
Casey Roberts, 0-0-0-0.00
Bob Mitchell, 0-0-0-0.00
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Koltin Hevalow, 0-0-0-0.00
Sandro Batista, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcus Mast, 0-0-0-0.00
Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0-0.00
Wyatt Rogers, 0-0-0-0.00
Flavio Zivieri, 0-0-0-0.00
Ramon de Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Cerqueira, 0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00
Tyler Manor, 0-0-0-0.00
Adriano Salgado, 0-0-0-0.00
Vitor Losnake, 0-0-0-0.00
Kyler Oliver, 0-0-0-0.00
João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Chase Dougherty, 0-0-0-0.00
Casey Coulter, 0-0-0-0.00
Caden Bunch, 0-0-0-0.00