Like a proud father, Guilherme Marchi was all smiles as he leaned against an open gate.
Marchi, who won a world title two years earlier, was playing the role of party planner, as he encouraged riders, friends, family and fans to join in the celebration of Renato Nunes’ season-long accomplishment.
Sunday afternoon, Nunes became only the second rider in PBR history to win the PBR World Finals average and the World Championship in the same year.
He scored 4,369 points out of a possible 5,500 for one of the greatest come-from-behind performances in Finals history.
“He is the best in the world right now,” said Marchi, as Nunes was carried on the shoulders of McKennon Wimberly, among others.
“He won everything. He won the Finals, he won the $1 million bonus, and he deserves it because he fought all year long. … He’s a good guy and I’m just glad.”
Nunes had the greatest week of his five-year career in the PBR.
But the 29-year-old was only one of six Brazilians to finish in the Top 8 of the Finals average.
Nunes won the average with 444 ride points, followed closely by Silvano Alves, who scored 431.5 combined points. Newcomer Wesley Lourenço capped off a memorable debut by finishing third, and Marchi came back after sitting out four Built Ford Tough Series events to finish fifth in the average.
Palermo won the final round in dramatic fashion with a 91.25-point ride on RMEF Gunpowder and Lead less than 12 hours after being released by UMC Trauma Center, where he was examined for a possible neck fracture. He landed awkwardly on his head after winning Round 4.
Including the World Cup competition in April, it’s the second time in seven months that the Brazilian contingency of bull riders came to Las Vegas and dominated the competition – something they’ve done all season.
As a group, they accounted for 10 of 30 event wins. Five of them – Nunes, Valdiron de Oliveira, Palermo, Marchi and Alves – finished the season in the Top 8 of the world standings.
But on Sunday afternoon, it was about celebrating the triumph of a World Champion.
Nearly 30 minutes after being hoisted in the air, Nunes walked down off the center stage as everyone on the dirt chanted his name. He smiled and thanked everyone in English and Portuguese as he made his way through the crowd.
And still standing next to the bucking chutes was Marchi. His smile had turned to laughter as he gave Nunes a thumbs-up.
“I’m happy for him,” Marchi said. “He loves his family and for a living he rides bulls – that’s great for Brazil too.”
— by Keith Ryan Cartwright
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.