Nothing new can really be said about 2020 and the challenges we all faced during the year. The WP DH season was no exception to things being negatively affected, but luckily we got to end things on a very high note indeed. For the first time in years, Hellsend Dirt Compound played host to a DH event, and it did not disappoint. This spectator friendly track offers everything from tight & techy, to loose & fast - and ad to that one of the easiest and bike-friendly shuttle roads in SA.
Vuurberg, one of the more scenic locations on the DH calendar.
The weekend doubled up as a shuttle day on Saturday, and a race day on Sunday. This, as well as the inclusion of the Enduro category, saw just under 90 riders enter the overall event, and 71 take part in the race on Sunday. Track conditions remained pretty good throughout which is unusual for a summer time race in the Western Cape. The racing was hot between the top boys as to be expected and times were super tight with only 0.4 seconds separating the top three riders in the elite men’s field, and less than 2 seconds the top 5.
The event was fully Covid regulated with an officer on sight to monitor the procedures.
Bit of pre-race banter as riders wait to go up with the first shuttles.
Hendre De Villiers
In the women's race, Frankie du Toit put down a winning race time of 2:10:401, with Lizelle Sweeney in 2nd and Jess Gwynne-Evans in 3rd.
The day was really cool. The WPDH races are always really well organised, though there were a few crashes that delayed things a bit, and also disappointing to see so few girls here. It got super windy towards the end which made things very interesting on the jump section. It was a cool track - great to be racing again, to see all the familiar faces and end the year on a high.
Frankie du Toit
Frankie du Toit
Francois du Toit
The mens race saw Niko Velasco take top step with a race time of 1:40:569, Tim Bentley in 2nd some 0.2 seconds behind him and Johann Potgieter 0.2 behind Tim.
The track was super blown out, but pretty sick. It actually cut in quite nicely - I think it got better throughout the weekend. For finals the wind picked up but didn’t end up being too bad. Super tight times, and I knew I had to push pretty hard. For finals I had a slow leak at the start of the track, so I had to miss my start time and pushed back to the last man down the hill, and had someone bring me a pump. With a minute to go I pumped it up to like 45psi, and just dropped in. So I wasn’t stoked on the run, so definitely didn’t expect to win, but pretty happy to take it.
On the casualties front, a few riders (and many a wheel) got caught out in the rock garden. Nicholas Johnson had to be taken to the Mediclinic by the on-site ambulance and checked out, but is recovering at home. A less serious crash saw Matt Lombardi go OTB at the same spot at the exit of the rock garden, taking him out of contention for the rest of the day. WP DH has really kept its promise in making Downhill a safer sport which hasn’t seen any major injuries. It’s also important to note that each and every track is vetted to the new safety guidelines WP DH adheres to make this sport accessible to more pinners!
A big thank you goes out to title sponsor SRAM, the volunteers and the committee for putting together a great event, and a great season ender. We hope to return to the normal racing season during 2021.
Full results can be viewed here.
See the full race gallery on Shift Media