BARRETOS, Brazil – Jose Vitor Leme capped off an impressive season by riding Zorro for 88.5 points to clinch the 2017 Monster Energy PBR Brazil Finals event title, the 2017 PBR Brazil Rookie of the Year award and 2017 PBR Brazil championship on Sunday night.
Leme was flawless in Barretos, going a perfect 5-for-5 to hold off Otniel da Silva (4-for-5, 339.3), Fernando da Conceição (4-for-5, 336 points), Junior Quaresma (4-for-5, 329.75 points) and Junior Patrick (4-for-5, 323.75 points) for the event victory.
The 21-year-old finished 1,862.5 points ahead of Lucas Divino for the 2017 championship.
“I always wanted to be here,” Leme said. “When I started to ride bulls, I wanted to be champion of PBR Brazil. Today, I am realizing this dream.”
Leme comes from a unique background compared to his fellow bull riders.
Instead of growing up on a farm, the 21-year-old was once a professional soccer player.
“I played professionally on three soccer teams, including Santos FC, but I lived in a small town and bull riding was something I always wanted to do,” Leme said. “I started practicing both – bull riding and playing ball – until one day my heart decided I wanted to ride bulls.
“I made the right choice.”
Leme joins 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro as the only riders to ever win the PBR Brazil championship, the PBR Brazil Finals event title and the PBR Brazil Rookie of the Year award in the same season.
"I always looked at Luciano as an inspiration,” Leme told PBR Brazil’s Jorge Cardoso. “I followed him when he won and I celebrated a lot. Today, being here, doing the same as him means a lot for my career and as a professional.”
Leme concluded the 2017 PBR Brazil season 38-for-46 (82.61 percent) with three victories and seven Top-5 finishes.
He now hopes to join Castro and 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa in the United States in the near future.
Leme’s PBR Brazil championship earns him an automatic bid to the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals on Oct. 28-30 in Las Vegas at the South Point Arena.
Leme is currently 43rd in the world standings and trails No. 35 Brock Radford by only 101.66 points.
“I am planning to ride in PBR Brazil, but also to ride in the U.S.,” Leme said. “I want to take advantage of the opportunities. I already have a passport and I will arrange my visa in the next few days.
“I want to be there in America as soon as possible.”
Bipolar was named the PBR Brazil Champion Bull for the third time.
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