So we left the pit area this evening with the ground looking some what damp. With the rain still pouring and with no intentions of stopping the riders retreated to the comforts of their accommodation to discuss sailing tactics for this weekends boat race!
Minnaar going for the full front back and sides from Jason Marsh.
The best way to get the kit cleaned off...jet wash!
With the pit area practically flooded, the best way to transport around was bare footed. So much for worrying about all the creepy crawlies and spiders!
Although for some it was a rad day out on track, playing around in the woods, there was till plenty of not so happy faces. Not everyone comes to World Cups to play in the mud and splash around, especially when you come to Australia...it should be mandatory sunshine!
With the numbers dropping off toward the middle of timed practice, riders were starting to call it a day, there is only so much sliding around int he woods you can do until it takes a toll on the body.
The persistent rain was starting to slowly turn the track into a creek with riders coming down just caked head to toe in muck.
The boys were still pinned on track though, cooking the mud on the rotors and callipers was a sure sign of that.
Mistakes were being made left right and centre. The Ruffin brothers getting caught up in a two man pile up in the lower rooty section of the track.
One of the big favourites to win this weekend. Sik Mik Hannah has been preparing him self for this race on home turf and with the local support here to back him, maybe he can finally win that gold he has been hunting for the past few seasons!
...the goggles came off altogether. It would only take a few of the top corners until your face was covered. Some riders finding it difficult to adjust to the changing conditions.
The tear offs came out first to tackle the mud...but it didnt last long until...
Snapping close at Gee's heels in timed practice today was another Brit rider. Matt Simmonds put down a fast full lap and came in just 0.7 behind. 'Just like riding in Wales' he said with a big grin on his face.
Aussy boy Connor Fearon dropping into the corkscrew and on his way to 2nd in timed practice. 0.3 seconds behind Gee meant that they were both in it to get that top spot. Hard for the times to mean a great deal today with the changing track conditions but expect rider to be pushing the 4min mark come race day!
Gee Atherton in the top rocks prior to the downpour nice and clean. Focused all day long from him and trying to get over his unexpected result in PMB. Ditching the zero stem and back on the more conventional set up he grabbed first in timed practice, showing he isnt out yet!
Some modifications to the whoops were made last night. A good few inches were cut off the tops and filled in bottoms after riders raised concerns about the feature. An alternative left line was spotted on track walk but not with these changes the quickest line seems to be right down the centre.
Loic Bruni seems to be starting a trend of having big offs in practice. After a huge off at PMB he might have thought twice about coming into the speed trap at mach ten. Slipping out on the mud off the fly off he soon found him self metres away from his bike hurtling backwards down the track. Up, walking and okay, he will be bound to feel it in the morning.
The track soon started to tear up, which did a good job of covering absolutely everything. Kit, bikes, spectators, you name it, I left the race site today a little more orange than when I came in!
Not a huge number of quick Juniors this year so far and it really seems to be a fight between 3 or 4 of the riders. Last rounds winner Luca Shaw looking quick, but pipped to the post in timed practice by this man, Loris Vergier. With over 2min in the difference, the times were really not something to go by.
Even the Australians were not used to this weather. Tracey finding the conditions tough on track today and it definitely was no longer the track she knew a few days ago. Coming into this race both her and Mik are confident of good results, but with the weather turn like this its anyones game!
The rain making speed management even harder coming into these uphill sections. Even though some riders are shooting through here at 75kmh the soft gloopy mud is making the legs work as they crank up over the top of the climbs.
Pushing through the rain the fast section held up well. A couple of fast moto ruts formed but the big lines were still on. A long triple and big step down were just a few of the lines in this section that could buy you some valuable time.
Early on rain dampening retired a few photographers mid practice. Nathan Hughes throwing in the towel, ringing out his shirt and headed off to nurse his camera back to life.
Emmeline Ragot, foot out flat out? Hmm, maybe just steady and safe, but not the only one through this tough section. I saw a few elite riders bull ride their top tubes through here! Ragot one of the only to put down a solid top to bottom timed run which secured her the bragging rights at this round. Once again, like the Juniors, huge time differences between 2nd place Manon and 3rd place Rachel.
It just kept coming. With spectators, media and marshals all running about not really knowing what to do, you almost had to just accept the fact you were at the top of hillside with no cover and are just going to get wet. But the show must go on as they say. Riders laughed off the first few wet runs, thinking similarly that it was going to ease off and everyone could get back to some serious practice. However, after the first few hours of non stop rain, riders had to pull their fingers out and keep at it.
The few of the wise photographers donned their jackets and affixed their weather protection but this was still not enough to hold out the rain, thats not to mention the ones who didn't come prepared. Soaked wet through cameras and all, with a few of the media guys equipment giving up all together and having to make a surrendering retreat to the pits! WC vet John Lawlor braving the rain in his borrowed jacket.
They lied, it never stopped and just kept coming! The heavens opened and within minutes the track went from solid and tacky to an ice rink. With no signs of it holding off, its looks like we were in for a soggy one. The Brits looked like they were right at home! Scot Lachlan Blair getting loose on in the mud.
And then out of what seemed like nowhere the clouds pulled in and it started to rain. But no worries, I was assured by a fellow local that it always does this in these parts of Aus.'It will rain for no more than 15mins, then sun will come out and it will be amazing!'
Slick was an understatement in the top section. A greasy layer of claggy mud covered all the surfaces…rocks...roots, making not the easiest of conditions to ride in.
Group A riders started to fill in on track mixing in with the girls and gunners. Brook Mac second run in and making light work of the super slippy roots and rocks in the upper section. This was by far one of the toughest sections on track, maybe not the most technical or demanding but the combination of off camber rocks, clay mud and speed were a recipe for a few spills.
The sun even broke through mid morning and it was really starting to heat up. The track was running super fast as the girls and juniors were startied to send some of the big lines. Morganne Charre pinned through the moguls.
Junior Australian local Joel Willis quick through the motorway section on his 26inch wheels. Most people rolling out on their full rigs this weekend with no trail bikes in sight. A few sections that could warrant it but on the whole 200mm of travel is required.
Rachel Atherton back on it in practice today after her mysterious bug which left her unable to practice at the last round. Enjoying the morning practice with team mate Taylor Vernon.
Great morning track conditions after a slight watering over night. A couple of the top greasy sections were starting to rut up and dry a little with lines starting to form. One of the tighter sections of track here in the bottom which makes for a different feel in comparison to the 10 foot wide motor way up top.
And jumping straight into it, 8.30am and the first of the Group B practice riders flock onto the track. After a steady sighting lap, riders were starting to get familiar with the lines and memorising this fresh track! Claire Buchar making light work of the swooping turns on the bottom rooty section.
Uplifts all ready to roll with bikes packed to the brim, primed to head hillside and really kick off this second round of the World Cup DH! Trail diggers pulled another all nighter to complete the uplift road, the trucks made light work getting the bikes to the top with not much fuss!
All set up here at the bottom of the track. No expense spared, the locals have gone the extra mile to add some tidy finishing touches to the pit and tech areas in preparation for the thousands of expected spectators!
A pleasant morning here in Cairns. A bit of a light mist covering the tips of the hillside tree, but with signs of it brightening up and the sun popping its head out it was looking like it was a good day for practice!
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Laurence has just about dried off after practice and has beamed over a bumper sized gallery from practice in Cairns. His audio box suffered from a bit of water damage but hopefully some hair dryering will sort that out for the rest of the weekend.