NZ National DH Series
Bluff, New Zealand
As the southern hemisphere race calendar kicks into gear. We travel as far south as you can on the New Zealand mainland for the first round of MTBNZ NZ National DH series.
Hosted by the passionate crew from Southland MTB Club at the one and only Bluff Hill/Motupohue (literally the only hill in the area) it was the first time many of the riders had even ventured this far south let alone raced down here. The locals might not be spoilt for choice when it comes to hills to ride down but they sure do make the most of what they have, Bluff is the most underrated trail hubs in NZ. A team of locals have been hard at work giving the track a tickle up with the help of Cam Bissett from D and E and they have done a fine job for the first race of the season.
While Bluff Hill provides spectacular views over Foveaux Strait and on a good day even all the way to Rakiura/Stewart Island, it also receives a fair bit of wind and rain. The weather was threatening a repeat of the awful conditions the last time a National DH series visited 7 years ago. With overnight rain leaving the top section of trail in the native bush moister than a Bluff oyster causing a few to come unstuck in practice. By late morning the rain had passed and racers were treated to a glorious Southland day. It seems the rain was only bluffing......
There were some big names in attendance and pro rider George Branigan (Queenstown) took out the top spot in the elite class with a time of 2.17.06. 2nd and 3rd placing were split by only 0.16 of a second, with Sam Gale in 2nd and Tuhoto-Ariki Pene in 3rd Place. The women’s field was small, but nevertheless had some keen riders competing, with Kathy Morris (Queenstown) taking out the Elite class.
With round 2 only a week away the MTBNZ National series will be making its next stop at Coronet Peak in Queenstown before the new format double-header National/Oceania Mountain Bike Championships are held in Dunedin from the 24th -26th on Jan
Full results available here