For the first time in three years National Championships returned to the Nation's capital of Canberra, to the same location as the 2008 World Cup and 2009 World Championships. Whilst the hill has much to live up to in terms of track quality, the quality of the field racing was more than exceptional. With the likes of Sam Hill, Troy Brosnan, Mick Hannah, Chris Kovarik and Jared Graves, the racing was set to come down to the line and come down to the line it did. Representing the team for the weekend was Tegan Molloy, Dean Lucas and Connor Fearon.
National Championships is a long affair with practice and track walk drawn out over five days rather than the usual three. Arriving in Canberra on Wednesday, the track was dry and the sun was out, a polar opposite compared to what race day would turn out to be. The track itself is a very tough track to race on with large sections of rock gardens, gaps and near endless corners. The hard pack surface and nature of the track favored a stiffer setup than usual, especially due to the lack of vertical meters.
Whilst the weather remained nice for the majority of the practice days, riders woke up on seeding morning to the sound of heavy rain falling. The rain didn’t let up all day, and well and truly settled in for the weekend, completely changing the track and race dynamics, becoming anyone’s for the win. At the completion of seeding the Kona Factory Team was left standing in a solid position through the results with Tegan seeding second fastest in U19 Female, Dean second fastest in U19 Male, and Connor in 14th in Elite Male on board a pre-production carbon frame.
Come race day, despite the constant rain the team was in fairly good spirits. With the Kona Operators stripped down and rebuilt overnight, weathered parts replaced and fresh tyres for race day, the bikes were running perfectly. The team completed two practice runs with a quick break in the clouds creating a very sticky run down. Come race time, the impeding clouds were on their way again and bound to hit during racing. As we were at the top of the track warming up, the rain hit, and it hit hard. The kind of rain that is heavy and relentless, the kind of rain that soaks you through to the bone.
Tegan was first rider down the track for the team in the conditions and her National Champs campaign was cut short halfway down with a flat tyre blown off the rim, wheeling her bike across the finish line into fourth place. Next rider down was Dean, and after finishing bridesmaid to Connor in the 2012 National Champs he was keen to get a win on the board and the right to wear the national jersey for 2013. Taking the hot seat at the bottom and with only one rider left to come down, it was up to Tom Crimmins. Crossing the line two seconds down on Dean, the Kona Factory Team had our first National Champion! In an attempt to make it two National Champion titles for the team in one weekend, Connor put in his best and pushed through the pain barrier on a course that never suited his style to finish 11th in Elite Men. The podium ended up consisting of Troy Brosnan in 5th, Chris Kovarik in 4th, Sam Hill in 3rd, Jared Graves in 2nd, and Mick Hannah taking out the top step of the podium.
We have a few weeks before we hit the road to the Victorian Alpine town of Bright where the final round of the National Series will be fought out and series champions will be decided. Thanks to our sponsors for their ongoing support.
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