Race report: Western Province DH Round 1 - Helderberg

Western Province DH for 2015 kicked off in hot and dusty fashion this weekend at the Helderberg Trails, just outside Somerset West. The track had undergone a few changes in the form of an updated rock garden, a couple of loose and washed out switchbacks and a new finish line approach. The rock garden is situated right at the top of the track, giving riders very little time to settle into their run, leading to a number of ejections. Just before half way, the ever changing, loose and dusty switchbacks lead riders into the 'snake pit', from which the track stays mostly unchanged.
The 67 strong field braving the February heat was less than expected, but plenty of new faces joined the usual suspects, among which was the newly signed, UR Polygon team rider, Andrew Neethling. The only other pro on the day, saw Solid-Reverse Factory Racing rider Stefan Garlicki put everything on the line to catch Needles, but would have to settle for second spot, only 1.7 seconds behind. As usual, the other Neethling brought his A-game to take the 3rd step on the podium, just 2.2 seconds behind his brother.

helderberg-1c.jpg
Shuttling up the old fashioned way.

helderberg-6c.jpg
helderberg-8c.jpg
helderberg-9.jpg
helderberg-13.jpg
Not a bad view from the parking area at the bottom of the track.

helderberg-18c.jpg
With an updated rock garden, the first hour of practice looked like a World Cup track walk. Jens Rubow giving it a shot, with the gallery watching on.

helderberg-22.jpg
This is wine country.

helderberg-12.jpg
Theo Erlangsen sending the rock garden...

helderberg-24.jpg
...and checking out the results with Thomas.

helderberg-28.jpg
Francois du Toit dialing in the rock line during morning practice.

helderberg-31.jpg
Mark Hopkins doing some in-race product testing on the new PYGA enduro rig.

helderberg-45.jpg
Jacques Prins exiting the rock garden into some loose, off camber sketchyness.

helderberg-51.jpg
Ike Klaassen - 11 years old - like a boss.

helderberg-84.jpg
Rupert von Tutschek.

helderberg-95c.jpg
helderberg-98.jpg
The newly added switchback dust fest.

helderberg-90.jpg
Jason Gorman.

helderberg-119.jpg
Duran van Eeden - 5th.

helderberg-139.jpg
Pieter van der Merwe getting it wrong in the loose stuff and somehow slicing his front sidewall - as shown by the white puff of sealant.

helderberg-146c.jpg
helderberg-149c.jpg
Stefan Garlicki showing us how it's done right. 2nd overall.

helderberg-153.jpg
Adi van der Merwe - 4th.

helderberg-187.jpg
Tiaan van der Merwe.

helderberg-194.jpg
Andrew Neethling pinned on his way to the top spot.

helderberg-201.jpg
Rika Olivier - top lady as usual.

helderberg-219.jpg
Jens Rubow pinned into the snake pit.

helderberg-223.jpg
Roman Kumpers exiting the snake pit.

helderberg-206.jpg
Dane Olsen.

helderberg-231.jpg
Andrew Neethling's number one fan - kitted out and ready to rock.

helderberg-241c.jpg
Sub Junior, Zachariah Wolfson, taking a fall but getting up and completing the track like a champion.

helderberg-264.jpg
helderberg-278.jpg
Needles in his natural habitat.

helderberg-289.jpg
Jonty Neethling on his way to 3rd.

podium.jpg
Photo credit: Jenny Nel.

Top 10 overall:

1. Andrew Neethling - 02:08.908 36.3
2. Stefan Garlicki - 02:10.611 (+00:01.703)
3. Jonty Neethling - 02:11.134 (+00:02.226)
4. Adi van der Merwe - 02:11.804 (+00:02.896)
5. Duran van Eeden - 02:15.723 (+00:06.815)
6. Theo Erlangsen - 02:16.946 (+00:08.038 )
7. Myles Kelsey - 02:22.695 (+00:13.787)
8. Dane Olsen - 02:26.049 (+00:17.141)
9. Roman Kumpers - 02:28.490 (+00:19.582)
10. Francois du Toit - 02:28.680 (+00:19.772)

Full results can be viewed here.

A big thank you to these guys for making round 1 of WPDH 2015 happen:
Duane Bosch - Shuttles organizing and trailer
County Ford - Ford Rangers for shuttles
Jan van Schalkwyk - Building and preparing the track, generator, trailer
Karl Ebal - Shuttles organizing,
XFusion - Michael and Jaco for noise,
Mobii - assistance with timing


8 Comments

nigelhicks, Feb 18 2015 11:48

That track looks awesome. Wish we had rocks like that here in KZN.

Nice to see a big crowd ... 67 riders is pretty good.

But where are all the ladies?  Only 2? 

Headshot, Feb 18 2015 11:51

Nice write up as usual...

popcorn_skollie, Feb 18 2015 12:11

Awesome photos too

Hairy, Feb 18 2015 12:35

flipping awesome photo's!

Bibi, Feb 18 2015 01:22

Ewald is the man when it comes to all these great pics!

iRide, Feb 18 2015 02:48

So bummed I couldn't be there to race it, but Ewalds pics are a great consolation prize!

Cassie, Feb 19 2015 08:17

Great pics!!  Just like if I was there myself...

Arnoster, Feb 24 2015 11:52

Excellent photos!