The wheels have started rolling in Mont Sainte Anne and Laurence Crossman-Emms was there for us to capture it all...
Waking up this morning to a bit of the wet stuff! Unfortunately, for once, the forecast was correct meaning we all donned the rain jackets and mud guards for todays practice.
A slightly daunting view as you looked up into the hills early on. Low cloud covered the tops whilst the rain still dribbled down low. A welcomed spot of wetness for the dry, dusty track.
Almost what it feels like to be riding today, wet, damp and warm. Heading up for the first practice run, looking down on the freshly untouched track, admiring your clean bike and holding the thought of being dry and clean, because today was going to be a messy one!
And up into the clouds. The gondola took you for a wild ride as it pulled you through the clouds. With the fog only seeping down to half way, it meant you could really open up the gas come the middle jump section.
The sight out of the start gate wasn't that much to talk about, starring into the whiteness of clouds and thinking of the track in your mind, because there wont be any seeing where your going! A full white out at the top of the track made the morning rather interesting.
Dropping down into the double rolls and setting you into the track. Probably the only 30m of track which wont be affected by the rain. As soon as you dropped off the boards it all became a little bit damp to say the least.
Startled looks as riders found it difficult to battle through the thick cloud in the open sections. You really had to think about your lines and where the track went.
Visibility really was this bad. What made it even worse was this was no slow section. Coming through these straights at mach 10, the trail would all of sudden take a dive into the trees, with the cloud making cornering even more exciting as you pin it into the trees.
Not even a third in to the track and your tyres are filled with mud. The drenched dust turned the track into a sludgy slide which made traction rather unpredictable coming into corners.
A new feature to be added into the track. This mid track rock step down was made even more sketchy with thick layer of gloop on the take off and landing. After a bit of drying out and a few run ins, riders soon got this feature dialled, but it didn't half make a mess of the track.
Ruts soon started to appear on most corners of this freshly built track. It wasn't long until the track didn't look anything like it did yesterday during the track walk. Rutted berms, uncovered rock gardens and blind holes made the track start to resemble the track of recent years…you should be careful what you wish for!
Getting greasy and foggy in the woods all morning meant the track had a beating with most of the dirt being flung off the side of the trail. Another few days of wet could see a real mess of the new track 'improvements'.
Harry Heath once again looking pinned in practice with his determined expressions. It never fails to amaze me the facial express this guy can conger up on track!
Making your way down track and the fog looked like it might be rising over the hills. Even the open sections were finding themselves beaten up with rock gardens popping up in all kind of places and in all kinds of shapes. Enough to catch a few riders out, with Harry Molloy being sent off on a stretcher.
Rocks and roost. Danny Hart blowing up the track and not giving one! He was looking like he was enjoying the mud, he seemed right at home going flat out through here.
Wyn Masters looking flat out on his wild Bull today. Enjoying the track and even having time to throw in a whip here and there, he really looked like he had this track by the horns!
Florent Payet, and like most riders through here, absolutely pinned off the second hip. Gaining a ton of speed off the first hip and whipping through the berm into the second there wasn't much room for mistakes. Landing off here into some muddy ruts it took you through a couple of fast speed berms and continued under the lift before diving back into the woods.
After her successful qualifying place and her overall 2nd at Andorra, Manon Carpenter will be looking to unsettle Rachel this round and take the top spot. Checking out the track from above she makes a queen like wave to her spectators below.
Blowing up the track with heavy braking. As the cloud started to break, the sun began to shine and bathed the track with some much needed warmth, drying out the open sections quite well.
The classic wooden bridge step down is still included in the track with some right shapes being pulled off here. Junior Lappierre rider, Loris Vergier setting a pace for himself in timed practice.
Emmeline Ragot putting down fastest timed practice run for the ladies today with a 4:57. Expect a bunch of time to be knocked off that come qualys and with Rachel and Manon not putting down a full run time it still could be anyones game.
And like it never rained here, the sun was back into full swing with the cloud all blown away. It had once again turned into summer. The track almost turning dusty in places and the ruts started to dry solid, it could all be a different ball game again tomorrow if the rain stays away!
The king of go karting, Marc Beaumont was able to throw it down on the tarmac track a few nights ago but will he be able to do the same here on mud track? Going big into the final wooded sections.
After his historic win in Andorra, Remi Thirion will be looking to put together a streak of wins this weekend in MSA. 9th in timed practice will put him in good mind set come qualys tomorrow.
Gee Atherton rolling with his recently acclaimed national champs colours. He seemed to be settling into the track well. He kept it contained and focused through the jumps, he was here to go fast and not play about. He has a top stop to defend this round after his 2nd place in Andorra.
Sam Hill using the force on his timed practice run. Riding with his eyes closed he has the ability to feel every single bump through his fingertips. He might want to open his eyes if he wants to take the win this weekend.
Afternoon light slicing through the trees and drying off the slippery rocks. Stepping into the woods in the bottom section, the track takes technical turn with big rock slabs and boulders to get your heckles up.
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By the looks of it the rain was just what the track needed as hundreds of riders hurtling down a damp track can soon turn a manicured section into a proper test. Obviously the MSA gods have had their way and are doing everything in their power to make the track worthy of its predecessors. Bring on the racing!