Former Lithgow local rider Joel Willis is the Elite Men’s RedAss Downhill State Series winner for 2017 ahead of series favourites Hamish Cowan from Mt Keira and Duke Millington from the Central Coast, who took the second and third spot with Cowan the runner up by only five points. In the Elite Women’s, Kellie Weinert raced four out of the five series events and won the title ahead of Joanne Fox and Ellie Smith. On the day it was Sian A’Hern from Queanbeyan who won the Elite Women’s competition.
The 20-year old downhiller from Lithgow who now lives in Newcastle, took a gap of more than six and a half seconds across the line for his third win on his hometrack in as many years. “It’s pretty good. Bit of pressure though, everyone kind of expects the results out of you but it’s also nice coming home to what once was your home track and feeling comfortable on it and having a weekend with all my buddies,” he said.
With 2:01.12 min Joel Willis clocked in the fastest race time of the day on the infamous Pony Express downhill track in Lithgow. With it the local downhill racer also took out the overall RedAss Downhill State Series title, winning by five points ahead of Mt Keira’s Hamish Cowan and Duke Millington from the Central Coast is third.
Wet conditions a challenge for the field
On the day the race conditions had been a challenge. After a wet practice day, the conditions stayed drizzly well until after the race finish, said Willis. “[The rain] had a pretty serious impact on the track and made it pretty tough out there. Everyone dealt with it pretty well, I don’t think there were any serious injuries, and a great day of racing all in all.”
Daniel Bender from Portland was second on the day ahead of Cooranbong’s Patrick Butler. With Hamish Cowan in fourth, local Lithgow rider Mal McManus came in fifth.
Kye A’Hern was the winning U19’s racer. The Queanbeyan rider said that he was happy to “pull it off against some really strong local boys.” He added that he was really happy to win and better his results from previous years and that he was looking forward to another year of competing in the U19’s next year in the series before stepping up into Elites. Local boys Pacey Stockton and Zack Hutchison came in second and third in the U19’s division.
Sian A’Hern takes the win in the Elite Womens
Sian A’Hern has become one of the top female downhillers in Australia in a tremenduous come-back from injury this year. With 2:28.855 she took the win at Lithgow ahead of the series winner Kellie Weinert from Kearns and Jo Fox from Emu Heights. “I’m really happy about the win, the conditions didn’t really change much from yesterday, so I was able to handle it pretty well”, the only 19-year old elite competitor said.
RedAss series to return as a club-promoter cooperation in 2018
In a first, mountain bike events promoter Rocky Trail Entertainment had joined forces with the state’s most active downhill clubs this year to deliver a five-race RedAss Downhill Series and a Championship Event, which had kicked of the Rocky Trail downhill racing season in Thredbo in April.
With one series round held at Greenvalleys MTB Park near Shellharbour by Rocky Trail, the three participating clubs had nominated one club event where participants collected series points for the RedAss Downhill – the Central Coast Ourimbah MTB Club, the Hunter MTB Alliance as well as the Western Sydney MTB Club. The Central Tablelands MTB Club welcomed the final series event on the weekend run by Rocky Trail with the support of the local Lithgow City Council.
“We would like to help revive the downhill club racing scene in New South Wales and the support by Lithgow City Council this weekend has been fantastic”, said Rocky Trail’s Managing Director, Martin Wisata. “We believe that with local support and a strong club base we can help grow this sport and provide a training ground for up and coming junior racers as well as a competitive challenge for amateur racers close to home.” Wisata added that he had been promoting downhill events in the state for seven years and had seen it had become harder and harder for clubs to recruit downhill officials to help run not only club racing and social events. Track maintenance requirements had put their strains on a select and loyal group of individuals, he added.
“At Rocky Trail, we want to help drive the growth of club racing and are supporting them with promotional activities and initiatives throughout the series as well as venue hire fees for races that are run under our own banner. Our biggest challenge is to keep downhill racing in NSW fresh and exciting with very few sanctioned race tracks available that are within a reasonable travel radius for race participants, all of which we are already using”, Wisata explained. He added that for 2018 the plan was to keep supporting the local clubs and with two Rocky Trail-run downhill race provide flagship events in the series that will provide a strong base for growth.
To all our riders, sponsors and supports, the visiting families and friends of our riders – we are looking forward to 2018 and a strong RedAss Downhill Series full of win!
Take care everyone, out on those rocky trails!
Juliane & Martin