PUEBLO, Colo. – Claudio Montanha Jr. can look back at his 2018 season with lots of pride.
The 29-year-old won a career-high two Unleash The Beast events, rode a career-best 34 bulls and finished the year with a personal high of $305,405.51 in earnings.
However, Montanha can also look back and admit that his second year in the PBR was one full of missed opportunities.
For one, his 38.2-percent riding average was seven points lower than his 45.71-percent ratio during his 2017 rookie campaign.
That inconsistency was even worse in championship rounds and 15/15 Bucking Battles, where Montanha was a combined 5-for-26.
Montanha was 0-for-10 in 15/15 Bucking Battles and 5-for-16 in championship rounds.
Those 21 buckoffs were extremely costly for the man who finished fourth in the final world standings.
“The first thing is to get the luck to draw good bulls,” Montanha said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating when asked how he can improve in 2019. “The second thing is to make the right decisions. Whether or not I take a re-ride option. Whether or not I pick this bull or that bull in the championship round draft.
“I think I lost two or three event wins because I made the wrong choice or picked the wrong bull.”
A few more qualified rides against the higher-caliber bulls in the PBR could have led to two or three more victories and a World Championship.
Instead, Montanha was left wondering what could have been after finishing the 2018 World Finals in 10th place.
Montanha finished 1,943.33 points behind 2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco in the final standings.
So does he think he needs to pick the hardest bull in the championship round to chase a round victory?
“It just depends how the event is going,” Montanha said. “Being aware of the situation. If I need something really rank to gain more ground or to maintain the lead, or if you just need something to maintain the lead because you already have a big lead. Being aware of the situation. I am still happy with my year.”
In regards to re-rides, Montanha accepted three of his five re-ride options, converting on one of the three attempts.
Montanha was supposed to make his 2019 season debut this weekend at the Corpus Christi Chute Out, but he withdrew from the event on Friday afternoon.
He is being replaced by J.T. Pettitt in the draw.
Pettitt has drawn Locke & Loaded (26-5) for Round 1.
Fans can watch the Velocity Tour event exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Jose Vitor Leme, Fabiano Vieira, Brennon Eldred, three-time World Champion Silvano Alves and Cannon Cravens are making their season debuts at the American Bank Center.
One area of 2018 success for Montanha was his involvement with Team Brazil at this past summer’s Sydney Global Cup event.
Montanha went 2-for-2 with 85.5 points on Bee Sting and 82.25 points on Big Bucks to do his part as Team Brazil went 15-for-18 overall to win the event.
The Pacaembu, Brazil, bull rider will get another chance to represent his country at the 2019 WinStar World Casino & Resort Global Cup USA on Feb. 9-10 in Arlington, Texas.
Team Brazil coach Renato Nunes announced during the World Finals that Montanha will join 2018 World Champion Pacheco, Eduardo Aparecido and 2017 Rookie of the Year Leme in Arlington.
“It is something really special because I think all the riders from Brazil here in the U.S. are so great,” Montanha said. “We have so much talent. I think it is really hard for Renato to pick. I am so thankful with God for giving me everything I am getting in this moment. I am going to do the best I can to be a part of another victory.”
Team Brazil’s final four selections will include one pick from Nunes, and the top-three ranked riders in the 2018 PBR Brazil standings following this weekend’s Monster Energy Cup event in Goiania.
Fans can watch the event on RidePass on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Fernando Henrique Novais currently holds a 210-point lead on No. 2 Bruno Scaranello in the PBR Brazil standings. No. 3 Joao Ricardo Vieira is 875 points behind Novais.
The Top 25 riders in the PBR Brazil standings are mathematically capable of leaving Goiania in the Top 3 of the PBR Brazil standings. A rider can earn 650 PBR Brazil points with a clean sweep of every round and the event average.
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi is competing in his final event after announcing his retirement earlier this year in the United States, while 2018 PBR World Finals event winner Marco Eguchi is also set to compete in Goiania.
Neither rider can mathematically catch Vieira in the standings for a Global Cup nomination. However, both would be eligible for Nunes to select if the coach desired.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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