‘Sunny’ Nelson certainly lived up to its name for the first event in the Nelson ‘Top Gun’ race series today. Round 4 of the NZ National Downhill series, the first leg in the South Island was moved away from Kaka, in the Maitai valley, and was this year raced on Fringe Hill up the Brook Valley.
Over one hundred and ten riders made their way down the hill in this new one-day format. Practice kicked off at 9am, but with a 50min uplift return, riders had to make the most of the practice runs they could get, with most riders only getting 4 practice runs. Due to time constraints the seeding run was bypassed, and finals followed immediately after lunch.
The Fringe Hill track was fast and loose. The wear and tear on the track started to show by the time the final came around, corners were blowing out and ruts developing, which put on a great show for the spectators with drifts and roosts all over the show.
British World Cup rider Phil Atwill took the win, and then made the most of the off-season sun, Wyn Masters followed, with hometown hero Kieran Bennett coming in third. Sam Blenkinsop took fourth on his new stealth prototype Norco, and Ben Karalus rounded out the Elite Podium. Shania Rawson took the Elite Womens win, with Sarah Atkin behind her and Agata Bulska coming in third with an unfortunate flat tyre and an injured knee.
Images: Jay French & Rach Gurney