NUTS in NAPIER –
Yes once again, several sets of nuts were duly crushed in Napier at the 2nd round of the NZDH Series. This young man came eye-water short on the last jump, ending up, double-up on the side of the track for some time. Its was good to see his mates nursing his gonads back to health for about 15 minutes, before he was helped off the track in to the ambulance, with, what is thought to be split scrotum. Respect young man – hope your back in action (both home and away) soon.
Anyhoo, back to the racing, and, what a great days racing was had.
With a dry lead in the this race, the course was……dry, and with an overcast sky keeping the shadows away, you could say…. conditions were perfect.
143 riders took to the slopes of Eskdale Forest which has previously turned on the action for the downhill community for many years – after all – this the stomping ground of World Cup riders, Brook MacDonald, George Brannigan and Aari Barrett (yes Aari Barrett !)
The Hawkes Bay Mountain Club again provided a slick operation for the riders to maximize practice and dial in their lines for the best time of a 2 run race (no seeding – just 2 race runs). It was also great to see a few of the older riders making another comeback – the names Nick Skeats and Mike Evans will be familar to some. Also great to see some new names in the fray – young 12 year old Caitlin Flavell getting a taste of the DH outside CWX, and, not to forget the ‘Battle of the Bens’ – 2 non riders, actually racing in a DH race on borrowed bikes wearing…..well….. borrowed gear. More on that EPIC CONTEST later.
The 1st race run provided a few raised eyebrows with a 3 way struggle in the under 15’s – Guy Johnston, James Macdermid and Taylor Top all on the same second. U17 hotshot Blake Ross head and shoulders – 7 seconds ahead of 2nd, and U19 Josh Oxenham pushing the local Charlie Makea into some extra work for the 2nd race run.
In the big guns divisions – the 42 strong field in open mens saw the Transition Patrol of Lawrence Cawte leading the way, and in the Pro fellas – Rotorua’s Louis Hamilton had the sharp edge of 1.8 seconds ahead of the Bulldog – Brook MacDonald.
In the girls – Shania Rawson was the Everest to conqour for the rest of the Female U19’s and in the big girls – Vinny Armstrong was again leading from the front, with a 19 second lead over 2nd.
Battle of the Bens – Ben Fries was about 7 cans of Cody’s ahead of the weapon – Ben Elms (oh dear).
So after a cup-a-tea and sandwich, the racers headed up for their 2nd race runs. Knowing what they had to do, and with a last chance to dance to do it – they headed down the hill.
Junior Female – Shania was clean again, but young Caitlin gained time to end up 2nd – well done !
Open Female – Vinny Armstrong too quick over an emerging and speed gaining female field.
Standout out efforts for Guy Johnston shaving 4 seconds off his competitors. Blake Ross backed his 1st run up with an almost identical 2.20.9 times. The OX proved too strong for Makea who was 1.5 back.
Plate 14 – Josh Oxenham on his way to 1st. He did the Auckland 1/2 marathon 24 hours later !
Lawrence Cawte was again flawless in the trail bike class (3 out of the top 5 in open men’s were on trail bikes – enduro class pending !!!!).
Mike Evans got the better of Matty Hunt in the +30’s, Justin Glavin was the only +40 to have 2 times sub 3 minutes, and not to forget Glorious Gordon Stillwell out on his own (but still fast) in the +50’s.
The pro-elite boys threw everything into it with a few of them sliding into the end gap trying to find .0000’s of second to take the win.
When the dust settled, Brook was able to reduce his time by .7 of a second, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the 2.15.893 best time of Commencal rider – Louis Hamilton.
Plate No 1 – and No 1 on the day – Louis Hamilton tucked into the finish.
Back to the Battle of Ben’s – after changing bikes for their 2nd runs, both Ben’s again threw caution to the wind to try and take the win. It would have been fair to say it was a dead heat at the end of the day……. until……. Ben Elms decided to settle the score with a throw down challenge to Ben Fries – lets see who can hit the end gap !
With the crowd fully engaged and lined up to see some poor fella get injured Ben Elms push up the access road about 300 meters, allowing him enough speed to clear the 8 meter gap. All speed and no skill -Elms pedaled his John Bull safety boots in the approach, almost loosing it when dropping in, Elms gave the front end of his Yakuza Kumicho a decent lift and penciled his way to a clean landing- the crowd erupted ! – So…. he only went and did it again – landing safely and pedaling out of the arena at speed. With nothing else to offer – Ben Fries – graciously gave his impaired mate the win.
Full results here:
Battle of the Ben’s Video :