The final round of the Australian National MTB Series has been run and won in the beautiful Victorian mountain town of Bright. Whilst entry numbers were small, all riders who attended were more than impressed by the quality of the track to be raced, with many quoting it as the best track they had raced on all season. The Kona Factory Team hit the road once more this season with Connor Fearon, Dean Lucas, and Tegan Molloy all in attendance.
Practice got underway below clear blue skies on Friday. With almost two consecutive weeks of temperatures over 30 the track was warm, dry, and extremely dusty. The track to be raced was steep, technical, and fast, every racers dream, and a track that was sure to clearly define the differences between a fast local and a potential World Cup rider. After a solid day of practice on Friday the team retreated back to their accommodations and enjoyed the surroundings.
Kona Factory Team rider Connor Fearon during practice.
Waking up on Saturday morning to clear blue skies was a brilliant change after the rail deluge in Canberra for National Championships. With an hour or so of Group A practice left, sure enough the weather gods decided to play games and threatened to spoil the weekend but the end result was only an hour or so of rain on track, doing little to settle down the dust. With Group B seeding out of the way, it was time for the pros to hit the track and show everybody how it was done. Tegan was first down the hill for the Kona Factory Team and managed to seed second fastest in U19 Female behind Danielle Beecroft, 13 seconds down on the changing track. U19 Male, arguably one of the most watched categories, put on a ridiculous performance with the top three all on the same second after a four and a half minute track, Tom Crimmins in 3rd, Luke Ellison in 2nd with a crash, and Kona rider Dean Lucas in 1st with half a second on Luke. Connor snagged 5th fastest in Elite Men, maintaining a narrow lead over Chris Kovarik, and sitting behind Sam Hill in the series overall who set the track alight with a 4:18 well ahead of the nearest rival.
Come race day, the excitement was well and truly in the air. With a mere handful of points between some of the categories for the series overall, racing was going to be amazing with nobody holding back. Many riders upped the ante and it was clear nobody was holding back. Story after story of riders pushing until they crashed filtered through the pits with some missing race runs due to injury. Tegan was the first rider down for Kona and crossed the line into second place to Danielle Beecroft, and secured second place in the Series overall. Tegan performed brilliantly and put on a brave face despite struggling with a shoulder injury all weekend and is more determined than ever to come back and grab the series next season with eyes now firmly focused on World Champs.
U19 Male was anybody's race and in the end it came down to who really wanted it more. One of the race favourites and series leader Tom Crimmins flatted in the early corners of the track but managed to hold the overall series win, whilst Dean Lucas showed us once again why he is a favourite for many by putting almost 8 seconds into second place to take the win on the day and third overall in the series. After flying through the top half of the track with amazing pace, Connor’s run took a turn for the worse with two crashes and he cruised to the finish in one piece, relegating him to third overall in the series behind Jack Moir and Sam Hill.
Dean Lucas on his way to a commanding 7 second win.
The Australian National Series is now over for another year and we are in the home stretch of our season with only two races left to go in the Victorian Downhill Series. Thanks to our sponsors for their ongoing support. Kona, Mavic, Race Face, Maxxis, SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Adidas Eyewear, Fox Head, GoPro, Evoc, Revolution MTB Mag, Timothy Arch Photography and Torq.
Tegan negotiating the entry into the steep woods soon after the start straight