It was only fitting Jose Vitor Leme and the rest of the top professional bull riders in the world had traveled to “The Second City” for what would be Leme’s second elite, televised PBR event-win in as many weeks.
Leme was 4-for-4 in Chicago this past weekend, including a second-place finish in the first 15/15 Bucking Battle of 2023, and logged back-to-back event wins to catapult the two-time PBR World Champion to second in the world standings (despite missing the first five events of the season).
“I dream about this back-to-back (win) two weeks ago,” said Leme, who has now won 25 elite events in his career, “so now God give me this blessing. I’m just happy about this.”
Leme was given a gift in the bull draft for the Championship Round when Cliff Hanger was available with the second pick.
Leme had ridden Cliff Hanger a week earlier in New York for the win and matched up once again Saturday night — “this time was way harder than last time, but I am just so thankful for God gave another (event) win to me” — for 88.25 points to edge out Monster Energy teammate Kaique Pacheco, who finished second in the event.
Pacheco won the Championship Round with a powerful 88.5-point effort on Tulsa Time.
It was a near-perfect ride for Pacheco, who did a great job of staying out over the frontend and keeping his chin tucked for 8 seconds, that could just as easily have been marked north of 90 points.
In addition to Leme and newcomer Pacheco, Derek Kolbaba, who made a flawless ride a nice tight spin from Mr. Winston in the final round, was fifth in the average to give Monster Energy three of the top five finishers in Chicago.
Friday night, Leme was second in the first 15/15 of the 2023 season.
He drew The Right Stuff, a bull he had ridden six of nine times previously, and it was anything but luck or a fluke when Leme made it seven of 10 with 88 points.
“Me and that bull, we have a long story together,” said Leme, who has now ridden The Right Stuff six times in nine matchups. “I like him a lot. We’ve been doing a lot of good rides together, so I’m just so glad to ride him again and make 88 points.”
Leme added, “I’m glad to be back.”
The 15/15 moved Leme up to sixth in the world standings, before moving four more spots 24 hours later with the event-win.
The Monster Energy team — Leme, 2; Pacheco, 12; Boudreaux Campbell, 13; Derek Kolbaba, 20; Chase Outlaw, 30; Daylon Swearingen, 49, and Jess Lockwood — will now head to Duluth, Georgia, this coming weekend, along with the rest of the top-ranked riders in the world.
“It's always good to start like this, but the thing is finish good,” Leme concluded, “so I hope God gives the talent to me to keep riding and do my job and finish strong.”