4X ProTour 2013 round 1 – Szczawno Zdroj, Poland
How quickly the winter months have passed! Riders have been training hard and all the organisers have been working just as hard to make sure that season 2 of the 4X ProTour continues on from the fantastic 1st season in 2012.
Round 1 of the 2013 season was held at Szczawno Zdroj in south west Poland. The track in Szczawno Zdroj is widely regarded as one of the finest 4X tracks in the world. At around 42 seconds long, there is a mix of high and low speed, technical and huge jumps. There is something to suit all the riders and the racing is always amazing to reflect this.
Riders began to arrive on Thursday. As ever the immaculately prepared track look perfect, however, the weather was not so good. Rain for most of the week had really got into the track and it was pretty wet. However the drainage here works well and the track was still in great shape for racing.
By Friday the rain had gotten worse, and when riders began signing on in the afternoon, the decision was made the cancel Friday evenings 1st training session. All the riders agreed that this was the best decision as the weather forecast for Saturday was better and an extended practice session on Saturday would mean that hopefully the track would be in better shape and not rut up as much.
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As the riders arrived on Saturday morning for the 1st practice session, the organisers clearly made the right decision as the sun was shining and the track was already looking much better. So the riders got their first rides on the track to work out their lines and get the jumps dialled. The track although it was still drying, was still quite tacky and giving the riders a few problems, especially on the 50 foot Pro Line doubles.
Late in the afternoon, the crowds began to arrive to watch the qualifying rounds. They were going wild for all the local Polish riders and one by one the riders gave it their best shot to claim the fastest time. Still, we feel, one of the allures to crowds around the world is that 4X demands a single perfect lap just to qualify. A mistake and quite simply riders will go home and do not even race in the main event. It’s a ruthless system but one 4X riders and fans love. The pressure on each rider is immense, but who could keep their cool and take the fastest times.
In the women’s it was Katy Curd who took the fastest time. With an awesome lap, Katy hit the first double of the Pro Line and looked as quick as some of the men. Lucia Oetjen finished 2nd and Celine Gros was 3rd. Unfortunately Helene Fruhwirth crashed out hard in practice and hit her head pretty hard. She will be back for round 2.
In the men’s, Tomas Slavik took the fastest time and began 2013 the way he ended in 2012. Michal Prokop finished 2nd and Scott Beaumont was 3rd. The guys were absolutely on the ragged edge. They make it look so easy but the speed that they hit these jumps at has to be seen to be believed. Quentin Derbier deserves absolute respect for hitting the 50 foot 2nd ProLine double. Conditions were tricky and hitting this jump was really impressive.
So it was onto the finals. The race action was fantastic. So much calculated racing from all the guys it was great to watch. Slavik, Prokop, Beaumont all went unbeaten to the semi finals. In the first semi, Slavik lined up against Lewis Lacey, Michael Mechura and Quentin Derbier. As the gate dropped Slavik powered into the lead. Lacey and Derbier spun up on the start gate and found themselves chasing Mechura. Positions held until the last straight. Slavik had the lead locked up but 2nd was up for grabs. Across the line in a photo finish Derbier got the final transfer position. It was really close, but that is 4X!
In the 2nd semi final, Prokop took 1, Boom Boom in 2, Jakub Riha in 3 and Felix Beckeman in 4. Prokop and Beaumont went bar to bar on the first straight, Beaumont dived inside and Beckeman railed the outside. Prokop led it out and Boom Boom slipped into 2nd. This semi final was close but the positions held to the finish line.
In the women’s final, Katy Curd went from 1, Oetjen in 2, Gros in 3 and Monika Hrastnik in 4. Katy was on it all day. She got the snap and just did not look back. She rode an amazing lap and took the win. Oetjen took 2nd and Gros in 3rd.
So it was onto the men’s finals. Michael Mechura took the win in the small final and this gave him the last step of the podium. A crash in turn one caused some carnage with Lewis Lacey coming off the worst with an aggravated shoulder injury. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
The final race was the big one. Slavik took gate 1, Beaumont in 2, Derbier in 3 and Prokop in 4. As the gate dropped, Beaumont got the jump, but on the first drop Slavik got ahead. Prokop went for a big cut back in turn 1 and slotted into 3rd. Beaumont hounded Slavik up to the last turn where he made a mistake and Prokop pounced. In a drag race down the last straight Prokop just got ahead. Slavik took the win from Prokop, Beaumont and Derbier.
An awesome final and a great start to the 2013 4X ProTour.
Round 2 of the 2013 4X ProTour will take place in Fort William, Scotland on June 8th. For ticket information, please visit www.fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk
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