Last weekend the second round of the Shimano British Downhill series took place in Fort William, just ahead of the next World Cup round that will also take place on the legendary track in just a few weeks time. With it being perfect preparation for the forthcoming World Cup it came as little surprise to see an absolutely stacked field, and a very international flavour. Anyway, we sent our World Cup photographer extraordinaire Laurence Crossman-Emms to capture what happened, and here's the fruits of his labour for you to enjoy...
You can almost call it Cairns wet...but at least everyone is prepared for it here in Scotland.
Rain jackets and umbrellas weren't enough to keep the rains away. Lift bound for race runs.
Sam Dale was on it at the start of this weekend, showing once again that he is a threat to those top 3 positions. Up in seeding with a 2nd place behind Danny but just missing out on a podium in the final by 0.3 second and finishing in 6th. The big man putting down the wattage on this demanding track.
Quietly getting it done, Greg Williamson takes home an 8th place finisher.
Ratboy Bryceland was another British rider putting down the hammer. Coming off of his great result in Cairns he has been looking even more confident on his bike. 4th this weekend puts him in great stead for the WC.
Out riding with Sam Dale all weekend these two boys have been constantly pushing each other down the hillside. 3rd for Marc Beaumont and nice to see him grace the podium.
After a flat in seeding, Matt Simmonds was keen to put down a time to challenge. Coming down 8 seconds up on the hot seat, he got comfortable and watched as riders couldn't touch him.
Gee Atherton showing that he still has Fort William by the testise. Taking the win and showing that his early glitch is over. Expect quick times come Fort William WC, he isn't going to go down without a fight at that one.
Ragot top step with Manon closely behind, a worthwhile trip for the French lady but more fuel in Manon's fire!
A successful weekend for Atherton Racing with several podium places and taking home all the spot prizes. Their young development rider Kade Edwards covering all grounds taking the win in his category also!
Gee & Simmonds enjoying their podium moments.
No need to jet wash, just leave your bike in the rain!
Welcome to Fort William and the second round of the British Downhill Series. That classic Fort Bill view looking prime as ever even with a fresh layer of cloud to cover. Weather not looking great and with most of us still not dry from Cairns we were keeping our fingers crossed to stay dry!
On upwards to the top of the hill, made easy by the gondola. Great to have a lift at a World Cup, spoilt to have one at a National. Practice day and the weather, although forecast terrible, held out well and pretty much a dry day was had with enough wind to keep the biters away!
Almost enough to still go for a slide...if you don't mind a few rocks poking through! Chilly at the top of the mountain reminds you that summer still isn't here...feeling hopeful for the WC in a few weeks time though.
Manon Carpenter feeling good coming into racing on the Sunday after smashing runs for a few days. No Rachel but with a stacked elite women field the pressure is still on.
Saturday practice is always a relaxed affair at the Nationals. No pressure riding to get yourself up to speed, no worries about having to race and just enjoying being on your bike. Rhuaridh Cunningham looking for a good result this weekend, looking on form in practice too.
The sun even made a slight appearance on practice day. It was short lived and almost unwelcome as when the sun came out the midges did too...and lots of them. Danny Hart pinned through the deer gate and getting in the runs.
A full packed and stacked Elite field with the likes of Neethling, Hill & Brosnan making this national race feel a lot more international...it could have been a World Cup there was that many Elites!
Good Samaritan Will Longden this weekend. After being out with the Madison Saracen Development team most of practice day, on race day he offered his bike to a young rider who had a mechanical on his own. It shows the spirit of downhill is still there!
The traditional Brendog whip that we all know and love back on track this weekend. Warming up for the World Cup, this one is sure to get the fans going.
Even with so many riders out on track you can still have your own little moments where you find your self starring at the ribbon on grade A track just weaving its way in front of you. Always a number one spot for the riders.
The signs of imminent rain. You could watch it as it rolled closer and closer towards us until...
Eventually it reached us, and it wasn't pretty. Engulfing the whole mountainside in a sea of cloud.
Flat pedals are excuses for only one thing, one foot tables. Joe Smith sticking a leg out and putting on a bit of a show.
Loic Bruni and Emmeline Ragot were both sporting new bikes, but they weren't letting on anything, mouths zipped and only the imagination to take hold. What looks like a new look frame design, possible suspension platform and half size wheels, but it was hard to tell under all the duct tape and telemetry gear they strapped to it! Bruni looking pinned either way but after pulling on an old injury he decided not to race finals.
Drew Carter putting down a great weekend...its must have something to do with the pink. 2nd in the final run for the Junior.
Sam Hill has ridden this track plenty so was up to speed right away, but just a little off the pace on the race runs, 17th seed and a 7th race run. The strong British field tightening down the screws.
Taylor Vernon kicked off his race day well taking 1st in seeding but was unable to pull it through to his final race run, snapping up 6th place. Slowly getting himself back up to speed which is great to see considering he couldn't ride a bike six months ago.
Tahnee Seagrave with one of her best set of results here this weekend, 2nd place seeding put her in great form, but the strong international elites pushed her to 5th in the final. That being said she was still the 2nd British rider. The Junior World Champ showing she is developing her skill set nicely!
Dropping in on her race run Manon caught up with several riders causing to get creative with the overtakes, choosing a few quite hairy moments! She grabs herself another 2nd place, something she is good at of late but missing out on the top spot by 3seconds to Ragot.
Ragot taking the win for the women here in Fort William on her robot bike. The women were lucky with the conditions, coming down on a dry track, the heavens opened almost straight after Ragot crossed the line.
Danny Hart on form coming into racing and 'almost' loving the rain! Taking first in seeding 3.5 seconds up on 2nd place Sam Dale, he was set for racing. But the changing track conditions put him off and he only pulled through with an 11th place, a spot back from team mate Neethling.
After further bike alterations, Gee Atherton is starting to look more comfortable on his ride. A 4th place seed set him up well for his race run.
All set and ready to go racing. A pretty chilled out morning of practice with some riders only dropping a single run to get warmed up. With such a 'back of your hand' track, it doesn't take runs and runs for the elites to get quick here. A few timing issues did set racing back a little though.
Just as the elite men were warming up for their runs, the heavens opened. Fort William is not a track that is too badly effected by the rain but the newly taped wooded muddy section got a beating.
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If you missed the full results from the Shimano British Downhill Series then make sure you check out our coverage for all the details.