Moore Large at Fort William BDS
Round 2 of the HSBC British Downhill Series took the traditional stop on the calendar up to the Scottish Highlands to the home of U.K. Downhill racing at the Nevis Range on the Fort William World Cup track. With 100 out of the 250 riders being World Cup Racers in attendance, it was clear that people were using it as a warm up for round 2 of the World Cup in 3 weeks time. The team had 4 riders in attendance with season pros Brazilian Elite brothers Roger and Douglas Vieira, Ellie Dewdney in the women’s category returning for her second race there and first time Fort William rider, junior Riley Jenner.
The team had their work cut out as there were international riders in all classes. They made the trip up early and had an extra practice day on the tough terrain on the Friday to try save themselves a bit on the Saturday. Most people had a similar idea so the race weekend had already felt like it had already started. Roger, Douglas and Ellie knew what to expect, but Riley was quickly learning the brutalness of this track and why it had such a reputation. The team rode together and helped Riley out on the top rocky section, however was no stopping him on the notorious motorway jumps as he sent them all first run. The team clocked about 5 runs before packing up for the day and went on a track walk. The sun continued to shine and the weather forecast looked like it might hold for the Saturday at least.
Saturday came about and official times practice went down. Team started where they left off the day before and tried not to tire themselves out. Roger clocked an impressive 8 runs and still bouncing with energy! The forecast rain came in about 4.30 and the top of the mountain was very bleak. With limited visibility and the wind picking up, everyone was hoping this wasn’t set in! The Vierias took Riley for a wet run so he knew what it would be like, where as Ellie called it a day and opted for the more hopefully dry approach for Sunday!
Race day came, after a bit of rainfall over night and the forecast looking as if the 30% showers wouldn’t materialise the sun was shinning and practice was underway.
First up for seeding run was Ellie. Getting a bit lose in the top corners, she calmed herself for the rest of the run. Being uncharacteristically over nervous the top section showed being off the pace in the top split. The bottom section was strong and consistent and seeded 6th for finals.
The rain hasn’t done too much damage to the track, if anything it had damped the slippery dusty rocky sections down, however the rock slab coming out of the woods proved to be a little slippy as the mud from the woods was being brought down onto it. However the woods themselves remained fast and reasonably grippy.
Riley up next. Having yet to ever complete a full run of the track he was nervous. Taking it a bit cautious he went down into 20th place with 5.32.
Roger and Douglas were last to go down in the stacked elite class. Roger having put a full run together on Saturday at 5 minutes dead, wanted to go under the 5 minute mark. The brotherly rivalry continues though and Douglas got the upper hand in seeding with both boys having clean runs but Douglas qualifying 20th and Roger 21st with less than 0.3 between them and both posting sub 5 minute times at 4.57.
Race runs were up, Ellie had chilled out and wanted to set a sub 7 minute time, a minute faster than last year’s race result. She started seeding with an aim to continue her podium streak for 2017, so needed to move up at least one place. The wind had picked up at the top and the track was getting getting rougher by the second, however she remained composed and put a solid run down, which she reasonably happy with and crossed the line in 7.01 not quite sun 7 minutes but enough for final step in the podium in 5th place.
Riley was up next. Aiming to knock some serious time of his time as was a little unhappy with his time after seeing some of the others go down. He came out flying, composed in the corners and hitting his lines, felt he was onto a good time. He’d made it to the woods on a clean run however was greeted by a red flag and his run was abandoned. A crash by an earlier rider had meant several of the juniors had to then head back up for a re-run. Already busting a gut he wasn’t sure how he was going to make a 3rd full run! However headed back to the top in the gondola.
After resting he was given his new allotted time and set out on his race run. Making the additional run count he stayed smooth and fast all the way down. Flying into the finish sending the final jump into view of the finish line he was shifting. He crossed the line with a time of 5.19 a whopping 12 seconds off his first time. After the re-runs had finished it was confirmed current junior world champion Canadian in Finn Iles had won the class and Riley finished a very respectable 17th out of 36. A great performance from his first trip of many to Fort William.
Elites were last off the hill. Roger was up first for the team. He put all them runs to count as he came down flying into the arena and crossing the line at the time into 3rd place and taking 8 seconds off his time posting a 4.49.35 time. Douglas came flying across the line next and into 5th behind Roger. Reflecting back Roger was very happy with his time, where as Douglas thought he could have done better, which should make it 2 wins each in the brothers battle for 2017! Both Roger and Douglas put in very respectable times, which would see them finish in the top 30 of last year’s World Cup times. A sign of good things to come in 3 weeks back at fort William. With Danny Hart winning posting an incredible 4.31 time to take the win with Loic Bruni 2 seconds back in 2nd. Roger finished 19th and Douglas 21st.
The team then picked up and headed on the long journey back with some great performances in the bag and results to build on.