Just under 400 riders from all over NSW, the ACT as well as QLD and VIC were once again summoned by Rocky Trail Entertainment to Thredbo for their “Gravity Double” – a whole weekend of racing scheduled the Fox Superflow, sealed by Stan’s enduro-style event on the Saturday and the RedAss Downhill State Championships on the Sunday. Most competitors took part in both events with 330 racing on the Saturday and riders chased positions in their categories all day. Anthony Elliott from Wallaroo (NSW) took out the Elite Men’s category and up and coming gravity racer Cassie Voysey from Engadine took out the Elite Women’s title. In the RedAss Downhill a field of 150 riders competed in a new format on the Sunday that gave competitors the opportunity to clock in seeding runs all morning with race runs in the afternoon. Two local riders – Brent Smith and Tegan Molloy – took out the 2018 State Championship Elite titles.
The Alpine village of Thredbo was buzzing with the arrival of Rocky Trail racers already on the Thursday and Friday and Blake Nielsen from the Blue Mountains was the one to watch in the Fox Superflow event. With enduro specialist Anthony Elliott at the start it was a tough task for Nielsen to put in a solid lead in the overall annual series ranking. It was a gripping second round where riders had one race track compared to the usual three to four put up in the Fox Superflow. The race format has established itself well on the Australian gravity scene with Rocky Trail launching it in NSW in 2012, based on European and North American events. Uniquely, their Fox Superflow events don’t require rigid start orders and allow riders across all age and skill levels to race together – the events promoter sets an inclusive and positive race atmosphere, where start and finish marshalls are present, however, self-seeding and courtesy are encouraged so as not to disadvantage fast riders or to discourage others.
This means that the Fox Rollercoaster attracts an amazingly diverse field of competitors with the youngest at the start line only eight years old. “We love to see entire families rock up to our Fox Superflow races – we work so hard to adapt our unique event format to the venues we race at so that riders across all age and skill levels can spend all day together, racing and chasing each other and socialising on the un-timed uphills”, says Martin Wisata, Race Director at Rocky Trail Entertainment.
Competitors at Thredbo were able to record as many racing runs as physically possible for them on the Saturday and being mindful of traffic on track, the organisers introduced an “hour-of-power”, which allowed only the top 30% of the field to race from 3-4pm for a grand finale to a brilliant autumn day. Anthony Elliott‘s overall race time for two runs was a winning 16:28.52 ahead of Shane Gayton from VIC (+0:08,46) and Blake Nielsen (+0:21,62) who now holds the honorary series lead.
In the women’s it was Cassie Voysey the young gravity talent coming out of South Sydney who was unbeatable. She finished in first in the Elite Women ahead of Cara Paton as well as Eliza Smyth from Canberra. Lauren Mackertich came in fourth.
Downhill home advantage for Brent Smith and Tegan Molloy
In the RedAss Downhill a field of 150 riders competed in a new format on the Sunday, which gave its competitors the opportunity to clock in seeding runs all morning with race runs in the afternoon – and plenty to talk about as well. “Downhill is a niche sport and we’re trying to keep it interesting and fun and exciting for our racers”, explained Wisata. “We’ve been running the RedAss Downhill State Series since 2011 and despite Australian downhillers still being a force to be reckoned with on an international level, we haven’t seen the strong growth that we had hoped and have worked towards. Admittedly, the enduro-style events and with it our Fox Superflow races have been providing great racing opportunities also to traditional downhillers, but they have also brought people into the sport, many returning from a downhill racing break in the 30+ and 40+ categories especially”, he said.
Wisata added that the ‘open seeding‘ concept was meant to encourage the young riders as they get more runs and opportunities to clock in a good seeding time in that way. “It is a format that some clubs have been running already and we do realise that downhill racers are very committed athletes and overtaking or starting gaps are hot topics, always have been and always will be”, Wisata said. “However, I do believe that if we want to keep this sport going on a club and state level for a wider range of racers, still accommodating and be proud of our elites and those fast guys out there, we must be open to trying out some things even at such an official event as the State Champs – at the end of the day it goes both ways, riders of all age and skill levels should be looking out for each other. I feel the majority of racers is so used to being told what to do by race officials and hit with so many rules and regulations at events generally, that a bit of common courtesy is hard to apply.”
Wisata admitted that a refined timing system hadn’t worked flawlessly during the morning, “There is never a dull moment in downhill! Our antennas at the start were not transmitting data consistently, after working perfectly on the Saturday. We had to run through the motions of how to combat that and set up two back-up systems including an additional timing point and a manual timing set-up at start and finish that allowed us to double-check all readings.”
Two local riders – Brent Smith and Tegan Molloy – took out the 2018 State Championship Elite titles and the downhill community was thrilled to see none other than Remy Morton back at the start line after his huge crash in mid-2017. “I’m back on the same bike that I crashed on, it’s still painful, but so good to be back out on track”, he said, placing in fifth in the elites.
What’s next in NSW Downhill racing?
In cooperation with local clubs across the state and with start on 29 April at the Central Coast Ourimbah MTB Club track near Wyong, Rocky Trail Entertainment is promoting the RedAss Downhill State Series – check out the website for all dates and participating clubs!
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1. 671 Anthony Elliott (8:13.77 8:14.74) 16:28.52 – –
2. 711 Shane Gayton (8:16.99 8:19.99) 16:36.98 +0:08,46
3. 152 Blake Nielsen (8:22.14 8:28.00) 16:50.14 +0:21,62
4. 252 Garreth Paton (8:26.72 8:27.03) 16:53.75 +0:25,23
5. 511 David Maggs (8:26.98 8:30.56) 16:57.55 +0:29,03
1. 921 Cassie Voysey (9:23.57 9:25.63) 18:49.20 – –
2. 697 Cara Paton (9:25.99 9:28.61) 18:54.61 +0:05,40
3. 698 Eliza Smyth (9:54.98 10:02.59 19:57.58) +1:08,37
4. 663 Lauren Mackertich 11:15.22 11:25.63) 22:40.86 +3:51,65
1. 688 Harrison Dobrowolski (8:14.44 8:16.05) 16:30.49 – –
2. 761 Ethan Corney (8:18.23 8:20.38) 16:38.61 +0:08,11
3. 908 Jono Fudge (8:26.00 8:28.04) 16:54.04 +0:23,55
4. 257 Mitch Benham (8:31.98 8:32.37) 17:04.35 +0:33,86
5. 806 Lyndon KERR (8:36.60 8:37.96) 17:14.56 +0:44,06
Junior U19 Female
1. 740 Eve Donnelly (9:52.25 10:23.93) 20:16.18 – –
2. 997 Sally Potter (10:28.70 10:43.63) 21:12.33 +0:56,15
1. 760 Brent Smith 4:45.70 – –
2. 922 Jackson Frew 4:57.36 +0:11,66
3. 757 Dave Habicht 5:00.56 +0:14,86
4. 996 Michael Willis 5:07.11 +0:21,41
5. 823 Remy Morton 5:07.68 +0:21,98
1. 727 Tegan Molloy 5:38.60 – –
2. 825 Ellie Smith 5:46.12 +0:07,52
3. 762 Kellie Weinert 5:58.21 +0:19,61
4. 921 Cassie Voysey 6:18.30 +0:39,70
1. 761 Ethan Corney 5:06.72 – –
2. 765 Jackson Connelly 5:10.38 +0:03,65
3. 908 Jono Fudge 5:14.17 +0:07,44
4. 257 Mitch Benham 5:21.61 +0:14,88
5. 806 Lyndon KERR 5:22.27 +0:15,54
Junior U19 Female
1. 997 Sally Potter 6:47.68 – –
2. 740 Eve Donnelly 6:52.88 +0:05,19