Wowzers! What an incredible opening for the 2012 World Cup season!
Victor Lucas and Sebastian Schieck bring you 20 amazing images from an epic Pietermaritzburg World Cup opener in South Africa!
Mick Hannah has always liked this course, high speed, hot and dusty. And he is also happy with his new team and bike setup. His confidence showed all week and he was on a blazing run with the fastest first 2 split times, but somehow the others caught him in the last leg. Fitness? A mistake? Taking risks? Not sure but it's good to see him on the podium again.
The last rider to scrape through qualifying on Friday was Dan Sheridan in 80th and this is his first time to qualify for a World Cup, after a full season last year. Its not easy at this level, but if you are determined, you can get there. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Dan-Sheridan.mp3]
Brook MacDonald took a massive digger on Friday that has made him an overnight Youtube sensation, it also gave him plenty of gravel rash like this fine specimen on his knee. Still the Bulldog is tough bugger and actually he's a bit like the Honey Badger - he just doesn’t give a shit. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Brook.mp3]
Al Bond has been racing all week since breaking his collarbone about 3 weeks ago. With some laser treatment and heavy strapping he was been able to ride although its hardly been comfortable for him... At least it maybe took his mind off the pedaling. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Al-bond.mp3]
When you visit Africa you have to get some of the local culture...some friendly locals wanted their photo taken with the Monster Death Metal Disco Wagon. They also told me all about the race in Zulu. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Zulu.mp3]
Emmeline Ragot made it to 3rd today. This has got to be a tough course for a small rider - she was actually fastest on the first split, which is the technical part, but then lost time towards the end.
An amazing second place today for Manon Carpenter. Her dad must have been jumping around the house back home in the UK. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Manon.mp3]
For Tracey Hannah to make a comeback after 4 years and win her first race is the ultimate under-dog wildcard story. Made extra special by her brother Mick taking 3rd in the mens race. It's certainly going to make this year exciting for womens racing.
Greg Minnaar. Local hero, I'd go so far as to say he will be mayor of this little town some day. The fans are out in force again and the noise during his run was incredible. It was the perfect racing drama - starting with a disastrous first split, he somehow pulled back 1 second in the pedal and another second in the last section in front of the insane crowd.... Things got messy in the finish area. (Top audio is a short blast, bottom one is the full monty!) [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Greg-minaar-short.mp3] [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Greg-minaar-long.mp3]
You really have to be here to get the full experience, but if I ever get a job as commentator, I now have some gems to use... "He's in the start-chute now folks fasten your seatbelts! Here he comes down the mountain into a big push-out, thats a lot of gravity there! Oh Nice! He got good lift on that one, look at the airtime! From Zero to Hero you have to keep it together and he better not get a technical or he'll be off the bubble. Now he's spitting himself out of that kick-back, and he's just .004 off, thats 4 hundredths of a second folks, ten and a half centimetres! This guy nearly won the World Rings one time and with those technical assets he's certainly large and in charge today! Look at that! and he's coming over the line with a flat wheel! Thats the end of his match! Well we have certainly had a magnificent fiasco here today! [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Needles.mp3]
After it had rained quite a lot on Saturday afternoon the track was a bit sketchy this morning. You could easily catch a bad spot and just slide off. Timothy Bentley had one of those moments in his first run. But dialed the Cloud Nine section on his second try as fast as it goes.
The lower section of the track was crowded with people and the atmosphere in the finals was amazing. Photo: Sebastian Schieck [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/0318_140505_Crowd.mp3]
Just 0,05 seconds off the podium. Jared Graves was very close to one oft he top spots today. Still - ending up in 6th is an impressive result that will fuel him for the upcoming rounds. Photo: Sebastian Schieck [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/0318_161923_Jared-0.mp3]
While Greg Minnaar lost time at the top and Mick Hannah on the bottom, Aaron Gwin seemed to have a pretty consistent run coming in second today just 0.6 seconds off. Photo: Sebastian Schieck [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/0318_161634_Gwin.mp3]
Unfortunately two of the top women riders weren´t able to start in todays finals. Floriane Pugin crashed in saturdays practise session and injured her shoulder and this morning Sabrina Jonnier was taken out by a tree after she slid. We hope to see both back on their bikes soon. Photo:Sebastian Schieck
After quite some bad luck at his home World Cup the last two times, everything worked out pretty well this weekend for Needles. [audio:http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/0318_163246_Andrew-0.mp3]
Steve Smith didn´t have the smoothest final run today but managed to hold on 5th in the end. Photo: Sebastian Schieck
What a comeback for Tracy Hannah taking the leaders jersey in round one of the season and the number one plate into Val di Sole. Photo:Sebastian Schieck
Triple digits. Big anniversary for Peaty today, racing the 100th World Cup of his career and still going strong. Cheers Steve.
Rob Warner can't wait to get to the after show party! Putting the power down in the golf cart.. Photo:Sebastian Schieck