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Race Report: Greg Minnaar Takes Top Spot at South Africa Downhill Cup Series Round 1

Mar 12, 2019 at 3:56
by Nigel Hicks  
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Greg Minnaar shook off the cobwebs of the off-season to take the win by 3 seconds.

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of March saw the first round of the South African National Downhill Cup Series held at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg. The event doubled as the first round of the Regional Series presented by Greg Minnaar Cycles, and saw the country’s top riders taking to a rendition of the 2014 World Cup Track in hopes of securing some lucrative points needed for World Championship Selection later on in the year.

Heavy rains over the past weeks saw the clay-based top of the track turn into an ice-rink with riders battling to find consistent lines in the now treacherous rock gardens. The track was not the only thing that was embattled by the weather - the lack of chairlift access in South Africa made the ride to the top of the track very interesting with 4x4 only vehicles needed to make the final climb to the start line. Saturdays practice began with riders taking slow slippery runs to try and come to terms with the changing conditions. By lunchtime however the sun had come out and the track had dried sufficiently for the top rider to begin stomping out whips over the iconic 22m (70foot) tabletop jumps at the base of "The Gully".

After the track drying nicely through the course of Saturdays practice a massive thunderstorm broke over the park on Saturday night turning the track back into a slop-fest for early morning practice on Sunday.

The nail in the coffin however was not the track - but a major sinkhole that formed on the muddy shuttle route to the top of the track. This put paid to any chance of racing from the start gate as had been practiced on Saturday, and Sunday morning, with the organisers having to move the start lower down the track due to shuttle and medical safety reasons.

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The start of a deep sinkhole on the main access road put paid to shuttle access to the top of the track.


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The hardpack clay made for exceptionally slick conditions in morning practice.


By the time the riders were on track for final race runs the mud had dissipated and the track was rolling fast in most sections - especially across the infamous 40-second pedal section which was a highway with riders clocking on average 45km/h down the straights.

The event saw an impressive field of 14 female riders showing the discipline is attracting more women to the sport year on year.

The Junior Womens category is currently seeing amazing growth, with new riders coming into the national level fold. KZN Gravity Development rider Ongeza Mini (Velosolutions Izimbali/Peschl Sports) proudly claimed 3rd position in the Junior Women's elite category, proving that our development initiative in partnership with Go-Durban Cycling Academy is flourishing. Robin Stewart took second in Junior Women, with Sabine Thies taking the Category win in a time of 3:31.48.

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Ongeza Mini on her way to 3rd place in the Junior ladies.


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Sabine Thies on top of the Junior ladies podium for the day

The Elite Womens category was dominated by Frankie Du Toit, who was on a flyer all day, posting a time of 3:28.03, 3 seconds up on Sabines time in the Juniors. Steffanie Grossmann from Namibia came in second in the Elite ladies, 20 seconds down, with Jess Gwynne-Evans rounding out the podium.

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Frankie Du Toit taking the win in the Elite Ladies.


Junior Men was dominated by current SA National Champion Jasper Barrett from the Western Cape, who slotted into 9th overall with a time of 3:00.43. Connor Finnis took second in Juniors five seconds adrift, whilst Kayle Seaward took third.

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The Elite Men was set to be a blinder with previous and current World Cup Riders, Tim Bentley, Adi Van Der Merwe and Johann Potgieter (TEAM Racing DUDES) in attendance. All eyes on the day were however firmly fixed on Greg Minnaar, who made a guest appearance to have a ride with the local youngsters, and stretch the legs before the World Cup Series begins. Minnaar put in a blinder with a 2:45.16, just shy of 3 seconds up on Johann Potgieter in second, and Tim Bentley in third another 5 seconds adrift.

Standout ride for the day went to Sanele Hadebe (Peschl Sports/Go-Durban Cycling Academy) in the Junior Men Category with a 10th place in his first National Downhill race with a time of 3:53.17.

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Greg Minnaar getting low in one of the berms at the top of the track

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Johann Potgieter soaring over the Dr Evil gap jump


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Jasper Barrett on his way to first in the Junior Men


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Robert Frost with a solid top 10 overall on the day


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Junior rider Max Wolfson riding high on one of the berms at the top of the track


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Superbock Beer was on hand as usual at the finish for all the well deserving riders - Sub Veteran Chris Pearton grabbing his share from the sponsors.


RESULTS

SENIOR ELITE MEN
GREG MINNAAR 2:45.16
JOHANN POTGIETER 2:48.22
TIMOTHY BENTLEY 2:53.24

JUNIOR MEN
JASPER BARRETT 3:00.43
CONNOR FINNIS 3:05.58
KAYLE SEAWARD 3:09.47

SENIOR ELITE WOMEN
FRANKIE DU TOIT 3:28.03
STEFFANIE GROSSMANN 3:48.77
JESS GWYNNE-EVANS 4:50.13

JUNIOR WOMEN
SABINE THIES 3:31.48
ROBIN STEWART 4:02.63
ONGEZA MINI 5:00.61


All Results are available through Elite Timing:
http://www.elitetiming.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/SA-DH-1.xlsx

KZN Gravity would like to thank all of its sponsors as well as Ink Black Visual Art for the images

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Author Info:
nigelhicks101 avatar

Member since Nov 16, 2009
21 articles

2 Comments
  • 2 0
 Was an epic race.... even though the elements tried to shut us down!!!!

Thanks to all involved.... especially @nigelhicks101... being involved in the organising... AND taking the win in Sub vets.. stomping 2 HUUUGE mind**** gaps!
  • 1 0
 Major FOMO!







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