Well, we’d heard this one was going to be different. The great leveller of playing fields. A track that had been made especially for this race, never ridden let alone raced on, in a venue which is only months old. No home favourites, no local kids who knew the track like the back of their hands, no sneaky tourists riding the trail repeatedly before the race. No, everyone went into this race with the same blind confidence.
Now, we’ve got to mention the dust. Freshly cut in track, inches deep in dry, powdery dust. This was a throwback to the recent World Cup races in Europe, like Andorra and Val Di Sole. This track was spectacular to watch. Riders roosting into corners and dust exploding out like small wars between tyre and berm.
These kinds of conditions made for spectacular viewing, however things like lungs, eyes and cameras weren’t so easily impressed. Lenses were caked in dust, snot was turned black, and the shower water after you got in became a sickly grey. But this was a small price to pay for such an impressive race.
Rider turn-out was better than ever, with a brimming elite class unlike any race in the series yet. A full contingent of Vanzacs were present, along with nearly all of NZ’s big name downhill riders, and a few from Old Blighty too. Pivot Factory Race team did a 1-2 with Bernard Kerr taking top spot, followed by new addition, Rupert Chapman. Matt Walker managed 3rd, with Blenki and Brook taking the next two spots respectively. Alanna Columb brought it home for the ladies with a huge lead over 2nd placed rider Kathy Morris, with local legend Agata Bulska rounding out the podium.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their racing, and is now heading home to empty dust out of everything they own. The racing heads to Dunedin next weekend, followed by National Champs in Wanaka, the weekend after.
Photos and Words – Jay French