The downhill race scene kicked off in Innerleithen last weekend with the first round of the Alpinebikes winter races.
On the run-up to the event the weather was somewhat wet and windy, especially Friday night, and the car park area at the bottom of the hill was two-thirds underwater, resulting in the finish area being unusable on Saturday morning.
This race used to be called the Winter Wet ’n’ Wild, very apt for this round, anyway.
Saturday’s practice was the usual stop, start, checking out the lines and finish the day with a full run.
The track is a straightforward, none-too-technical affair using pretty much the top start section which was used in the IXS Cup race last year.
After the road jump it was down the tunnel then into the luge, out onto the fire road, then taking in a little bit of the Gold course, cut across to the Cresta, then down the firebreak to join the Matador, over the jumps then down into the arena to head towards the bomb hole going down to the right over the roots and round a nasty left-hand berm – which caught out a few riders – then down to join in the berm at the bottom and round the usual route to the finish area.
Sunday dawned with more rain but at least the water had dispersed so the finish area could be used.
The 2011 season has seen some sponsorship changes for Innerleithen’s Junior World Cup rider Lewis Buchanan teaming up with Team CRC Racing.
Lewis only took delivery of his new bike and kit on the Friday before the race so this was going to be a weekend of getting to know the new bike and how it rides.
Come race time, Lewis was looking fast – and he would need to be with Oban’s Fraser McGlone looking to impress his new MTB-Cut/Orange sponsors. It was Lewis who came out best, though, taking the junior win with a time of 3 minutes, 24.9 seconds, with McGlone two seconds back in second place. Third place went to Borders College student Sam Flockhart with 3.36.8, riding for Lapierre.
Lewis’s time was the second fastest of the day behind Elite winner Ben Cathro, teammate of McGlone, who was third fastest.
Juvenile results: 1, Frazer McCubbing; 2, Andrew Dorritt; 3, Nial Oxley.
The youth class was a family affair with Stuart Wilcox coming in first with his twin brother Ross in second, riding for Innerleithen’s I-Cycles. Third place went to Rory McRitchie.
Masters results: 1, Mark Weightman; 2, Mats Lund; 3, Nathan Cavalier.
In the veterans’ class, Stevie Boyd took the win with second going to Seb Ramsay and third to Pete Hoggan.
There were only two women racing, with Emma McRobb taking the victory over Morag Paterson. The Elite Women’s class produced the same turnout and Fox rider Angela Coates came in ahead of Uplift Scotland’s Bex Reilly.
The senior class was won by Lewis McLaughlin over Jamie Scott in second with third going to Andy Kipling.
Expert men are second to last down the hill, the win going to StevePeatSyndicate rider Dale Russell. Ben Cortis was runner-up and Chris Foster third.
MTB-Cut rider Ben Cathro took the Elite triumph by a clear six seconds over Ellsworth’s Jack Reading, with third place going to Scott Laughland.