Saturday 7th June, saw the Buff 4X Pro Tour roll into Fort William, Scotland for round 3 of the 2014 tour. The iconic 4X venue in Scotland has seen some of the most spectacular 4X races in history and in 2014, there would be plenty more drama...
The weather was perfect all week. The forecast had predicted rain, but luckily it had steered away from Fort William. Blue skies and no clouds gave the riders and spectators perfect conditions for practice and qualifying.
The track under went some pretty dramatic changes from 2013. Scott Beaumont spent a week at the venue in early April and now gone is the famous quad which was replaced with a huge uphill triple, the tabletop now extended by 10 feet and the rock section is now even bigger.
Riders took quite a while to get used to the changes and the bigger jumps were really challenging everyone. When qualifying rolled around, only 2 riders had cleanly jumped the triple jump – Quentin Derbier and Tomas Slavik. Going in reverse order of world rankings and starting with the women, qualifying got underway.
It was great to see Katy Curd racing 4X again. As the defending champion from 2013, Katy was using Fort William to prepare for the 4X World Championships which are taking place in one week’s time in Leogang, Austria. Katy put together a perfect lap to qualify fastest ahead of Suzanne Lacey and Jess Greaves.
1st Katy Curd – 44.863
2nd Suzanne Lacey – 48.136
3rd Jess Greaves – 50.518
Next up were the men. Lewis Lacey got the home crowd shouting as he took the hot seat early on. Felix Beckeman then took the hot seat, and it looked like being a solid time until Quentin Derbier, winner of round 2 last week in Winterberg, set an amazing time. Jumping the triple was clearly the fastest line. Next up, Scott Beaumont was on a flier, but did not jump the triple. He went 2nd. Joost Wichman was next; in the rainbow jersey he looked strong but his run was only good for 5th. The final man was Tomas Slavik. He was quick, he hit the triple but it wasn’t quite enough, as Derbier took the fastest time.
1st Quentin Derbier -36.734
2nd Tomas Slavik – 36.808
3rd Scott Beaumont – 37.230
On Saturday, huge crowds, blue skies and the scene was set for a great night of 4X. Fort William has never failed to deliver and in 2014 it produced some of the best 4X racing ever seen in the Highlands.
In the men’s there was an early exit for Nathan Parsons after a collision on the first straight. A crash in the rocks ended Australian Blake Nielson’s night and a collision in the quarter final between Lucas Cryer and Felix Beckeman ended the Swedish rider’s hopes of victory.
On to the semi finals. In semi final 1, Quentin Derbier opted for gate 1, Joost Wichman in 2, Lucas Cryer in 3 and Dan Bateson in 4. As the gate dropped, Derbier got the snap but Wichman out powered the frenchman down the first straight. Derbier was the only rider who rode a short travel full suspension bike and Joost got the better of him on the first straight. There was a battle behind Derbier as Cryer tried to make the pass but at the finish line it was Wichman and Derbier.
In semi final 2, Tomas Slavik took gate 2, Scott Beaumont 1, Lewis Lacey in 3 and Beni Kistner in 4. As the gate dropped it was Slavik and Lacey in a drag race down the first straight. Slavik took the lead in turn 1 with Lacey in 2 and Beaumont moved into 3rd. At the top of the rock section the drama unfolded. Beaumont went all the way around the outside of Lacey and parked his Yeti bike on the inside of the 3rd turn. It was a great pass and Beaumont held on to the finish line to move into the final with Slavik.
In the small final Lacey dominated the race from start to finish to claim 5th position for the night. Beni Kistner came home in a career best 6th, with Cryer in 7th and Bateson in 8th.
So it was time for the main finals.
In the women’s it was Katy Curd on gate 1, Suzanne Lacey on 2, Fionn Griffiths on 3 and Clare Curtis on 4. The gate dropped and Curd made the snap and led into turn 1. Lacey was in 2nd but Fionn, riding her downhill bike was starting to get the big bike rolling. Through the rocks she was fast and closed on Lacey but at the finish line it was not enough as Curd took the win from Lacey, Griffiths and Curtis.
In the men’s, Quentin Derbier took 1, Tomas Slavik took gate 2, Wichman took 3 and Beaumont in 4. The gate dropped and Tomas Slavik won the drag race to turn 1. Derbier and Wichman battled down the 2nd straight with Wichman grabbing 2nd into turn 2, then he swooped again getting inside of Slavik and taking the lead. Into the last turn Wichman had a good lead but he went for the double single line. Slavik rolled the dice and tripled to the inside. It was a wild move but he took the lead. Slavik held onto the finish to claim the win ahead of Wichman, Derbier and Beaumont.
Round 4 of the 4X ProTour will take place on 28th June in Val Di Sole in Italy.http://www.4xprotour.com