Race Report: BDS Round 2, Fort William
A difficult weekend for organisers and riders at the 2nd round of the British Downhill Series this weekend as high winds and sub zero temperatures created havoc but the GT Factory Racing team are celebrating tonight as they snatched a vital double victory from the jaws of adversity, just weeks before the World Cup Series brings them back to this brutal track!
Taylor Vernon grabbed himself a top 20, very much where he wants to be in his first Elite season and Atherton Academy rider Kade Edwards was very happy with his third place. All in all a successful day!
Rain, high winds, sleet and snow meant that Saturday’s practice was severely curtailed. With the gondolas closed some riders chose to push up to the Silverline wallride to practice the last third of the course but after one practice run Kade reported that it was hard going with little to learn about the course so Gee, Rachel and Taylor decided to save their energy in the hope of a full run on Sunday.
But continuing weather issues meant that there was still no gondolas.
At 7.30am the decision was announced to cancel seeding to allow further practice and to run the shortened course. The Team were “gutted” as we’d all hoped for the full track. But with temperatures of minus 5 degrees at the top of the mountain and winds still high conditions were simply too bad.
Rachel and Taylor managed two push-up practice runs each, Gee and Kade took on three. Then it was time to race!
Kade was first up. By the time of his Finals run in the Youth category the wind wasn’t too severe and the track was running pretty well. Kade hit all the tables and the Tissot jump perfectly, he told us that he had “just had a few wobbles and bobbles at the top, but apart from that it was a stormer of a run!”
Kade said “I am super stoked with 3rd! Matt Walker and Jack Tennyson were just a little quicker than me but I am happy with my result and being able to hang out and chill in the big truck this weekend has been super cool. It’s mental!”
In the Junior Women’s race sponsored by Rachel it was a win for Sacha Bickerstaff and then Rachel herself was on track.
The bottom of the track was really soft after lots of rain and recent work, Myriam Nicole had crashed out in practice, resulting in a suspected fracture to her collar-bone but Rachel’s technical prowess saw her to a 0.07 second victory over Tahnee Seagrave with Manon Carpenter coming in third.
Rachel said “I’m stoked to take the win here today, and even more stoked for Gee-man. It feels so weird to ride the bottom section relatively fresh! I can’t wait for the World Cup now.”
In the Men’s Finals Taylor came down into the hotseat in 1.23.79, he held it for a while until Reece Wilson deposed him, eventually finishing 20th, right on target for this stage of the season.
With such a short track there was literally nothing in the times. Gee knocked Sam Dale off the hotseat by 0.19 and last man down Josh Bryceland couldn’t quite make the time in the bottom section…finishing in 4th place just 0.37 behind Gee.
Gee said “ Winning here today feels awesome. Fort William is always so tough, it was good to get some runs in before the really bad weather!”
Let’s hope that the team can repeat these results at June’s World Cup Round – on a full –length track bathed in sunshine!
1 Gee Atherton GT Factory Racing 1.20.78
2 Sam Dale Madison Saracen Factory Team 1.20.97 +0.19
3 Harry Heath Norco 1.21.09 +0.31
20 Taylor Vernon 1.23.79 +3.01
1 Rachel Atherton 1.32.53
2 Tahnee Seagrave FMD racing 1.32.61 +0.07
3 Manon Carpenter Madison Saracen Factory Team +0.87
1 Matt Walker Madison Saracen Development Team 1.27.17
2 Jack Tennyson Madison Saracen Development Team 1.28.77 + 1.59
3 Kade Edwards Atherton Academy 1.29.35 + 2.17
1 Sacha Bickerstaff Vitus Factory Racing 1.47.04
2 Elena Melton Female Riders 1.56.98 +9.9
3 Rona Strivens 1.58.32 +11.28
All photos by Duncan Philpott