World Championships Downhill Seeding Run
Rotorua, New Zealand
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006
The stormy skies were brewing as downhill practice commenced, promising rain in the very near future. Riders are having fun on the slippery track, as it’s held lots of moisture since the last rain two days ago.Syndicate riders Steve Peat and Nathan Rennie are having fun on the track. The track starts at the top of a grassy hill, surrounded by sheep. In fact it is in the sheep’s pasture, they’ve just been sent to a nearby pasture for the week.
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The start house has a Maori flare, enriching this World Championship's experience. As riders drop out of the gate they have a long, fast grassy section leading into a right hand turn that has been quite slippery. It’s necessary to carry maximum speed through this berm turn, as it is the approach for the 30-foot gap water jump; otherwise you need to take the longer, alternate line. In yesterday’s practice only a handful of the top men were even making it, with others trying, but aborting their takeoff as they met with slips in the mud. Minnaar made the jump a few times, but on one attempt cased hard and whip lashed his neck, which is quite sore today.
There are some bridge crossings, then riders enter the steep, dark woods filled with drops and tight corners. Slippery now, just imagine what it will be like in the wet, which is coming. Exiting the woods, riders meet grass again before a mad made rock garden, to wooden banked turn, then they approach the finish with a small rock section that is shaped to look like the
Silver Fern, for which New Zealand is known.
Rennie has this to say about the track (and by the way, he looks blazing fast in practice, and is the talk of the media room right now):
“I’m lovin’ the track. It’s nice and fast. There are a couple of awkward bits, steep bridges, and it has a nice average speed to it. The pond jump is slippery, even without the weather, but it will be all right. To do well these days you have to try hard, and to win you have to punch it.”
Peaty says, “The track was good for practice and will be good for seeding. It’s hellafast and good fun. Rain is forecast for the race on Saturday, so a few players will be playing tactical games in qualifying, but I’m not one of them.
The seeding run is just finishing up and Santa Cruz racers are topping the leader board. Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz/SRAM/RockShox) comes across
with the fastest qualifying run at 3:12.00, and Steve Peat (Santa Cruz/SRAM/RockShox) come in second position with a 3:12.35. Marc Beaumont (MBUK,Santa Cruz), is fourth with a 3:15.42, just behind third
place Greg Minnaar at 3:13.14. Rounding out the top five is Mick Hannah at 3:15.45.
Rennie says, “I had a consistent run. It’s only qualifying, but it’s good to get an indicator of what everyone is doing. I held back a little, and many
riders did. There are some fast sections and I’m good at carrying speed. I wasn’t expecting to qualify first. I’m okay with going last for the race. I’ve
got enough experience to handle being last off the line. There are a few lines I’m going to take a look at. Rumor has it some other riders have some lines. I’m looking forward to the race.”
Peat says, “Me and Rennie, One Two! MINT!! In my run I started off good. The speed was different; it was weird being in a skinsuit. I made a few mistakes in the woods. I carried my speed well. I didn’t put everything into the run. I’m saving it for Saturday. The Santa Cruz V-10 was hooking up spectacularly!”
Practice day on Friday, finals on Saturday. Rain for sure is coming, but it held off all day today, which was fantastic.
Thanks to the Syndicate sponsors:SANTA CRUZ BICYCLES
Troy Lee Designs