Laurence has been up on the hill getting dusty to bring you his first banger of a riding gallery for the 2014 season. The wheels are all different sizes and the track has changed so dive in and take a look at what has gone down today.
All the riders trying to get the inside scoop on Greg Minaar as he come pinned through the rock garden in the top section. Locals advantage some may say, or maybe this is just his kind of track. Taking away the 1st place in timed practice, almost as a statement of 'Come and get me'...either way he is looking quick and expect top times tomorrow from him.
Mick Hannah is no stranger to speed. Tucked and insanely fast through the middle section...I am surprised his tyres held out. Mick is going to be looking to get on that top spot this year after narrowly missing out last year to Greg Minaar. Not a timed practice to rival the top but a cruisey 10th put his name up there. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/24_audio.mp3"]"
But the trail bikes just keep on battling! Gwin piloting his 40s Enduro to the fastest top section of the day, through the rocks and in the super dry conditions the only sub 2min...maybe there is something in this. Best keep an eye out in tomorrows quali.
No Nomad's here. After Josh put up a sneeky shot of his new stealth Nomad before the first day, it almost looked like the Syndicate may have also jumped on the trail bike theme, which was then reinforced by the release of Enve's new wheel range. But just smoke and mirrors, swish V10s with all the carbon!
Sam Hill seems not to be effected by his crash here last year and with no signs of slowing down he is lit as ever. Hot in the rocks with a alternative line to most riders, he can still turn up the heat through the gulley section and over the big table tops, an all round solid rider which is what this track needs!
Coming out of the 2013 season on a massive high, Loris Vergier comes steaming into this year all guns blazing. Within two runs on the track he was already up to speed, clearing the doubles and looking like he could give most of the elites a run for their money. Which was then made apparent when he took the top spot in timed practice! Loris talks about the start of his season. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/20_audio.mp3"]"
Gutierrez not really phased by the heat and dust. Long sleeves and trousers, can't imagine how hot he is under all of that, especially after the pedal! All Giant riders getting to grips well with the new 27.5 Glory.
Heating up towards the afternoon and into a bit of timed practice sessions. With no Rachel out on course today due to illness, Emmeline Raggot was able to take the bragging rights home today picking up top spot in timed practice. Looking at the times though it really isn't much to go by as the women seem to be broken up by minutes and not seconds.
But at the end of the day you have to lay out the fact on the table from what we know. Troy Brosnan putting up a massive fight in the trail bike corner taking the 2nd place in timed practice with a top split that was comparable to 1st placed Minaar. Looking great all day, the Aussie off season has been good to this young one!
Looking focused and determined, Manon Carpenter was not sticking around today. Fastest through the speed trap out of the girls with a huge 61Kph which rivalled most of the mens speeds!
Young Taylor Vernon out on track today and not seeming to be holding back after his huge accident last year that saw him having extensive back surgery. Talking tentatively about the track and worrying about his speed, he isnt going to know how he matches up until seeding for the Juniors tomorrow. No timed run for him today so the pressure is on.
Trail bike, short travel forks and big wheels. Mitch Ropelato running a pretty similar set up to the one he was on at Worlds last year, but the only difference is the whole team has chosen to jump on the band wagon with both Aaron & Troy running supposed 'stock' Enduro frames with 40s on the front. Not sure on wheel size as it seems to be a bit of a touchy subject down in the Spesh tent, but all I can confirm is they are not 26 inch!
Brendan Fairclough just seems to be out loving riding his bike. The time spent playing around on the trail bike all winter seems to have paid off for his. He has brought along with himself his little Scott trail bike and he's having a hoot of a time whipping all over the track during practice!
Rob Warner out on track today giving valuable line advise in the rocks..."straight through ere and jump the lot!"...Cam Cole looking suspiciously on.
The new GT out in action and looking like it seems to be doing the job...but is it rider or steed? Marc Beaumont looking comfortable all day on the bike which set him up well for the 13th in timed practice, above team mate Gee who took it cool with his 45th place.
Another rider opting for the short travel trail bike, Adam Brayton putting on a show as he bounces around the rock garden. The odds just don't stack up for the small bike though, running an already hard suspension set up for the pedal and having to battle with the short travel through the rocks, almost make sense to run a slightly heavier bike just to get the room to move.
Young-star Mike Jones impressed the World Cup scene last year as he rode for FMD. Scoring himself a big Factory deal he is now riding along side his childhood idol, Sam Hill. He talks about his experience riding with the man himself and how he is nursing a broken hand! "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/9_audio1.mp3"]"
No longer in the junior devision, Tahnee Seagrave now has to battle it out with the big girls! Still holding her own and looking quick on her new Devinci, she leads a train of women down the track during practice this morning.
Same practice schedule as last year, riders split into two groups with Junior and Women coming down early and the fast Men coming down after. Perfect conditions here to go bike racing, blazing sun and dusty tracks!
Its pretty interesting walking around the pits here at PMB and looking at all the different tech and bike that the teams are bringing along. From trail bikes with 40s on to butchered air shock DH rigs. Riders are trying it all in their own little style. Fox's RAD rear shock here that was first seen at Worlds last year but after some further tweaking is now seen on most factory riders rigs.
The man behind the madness here on course, Nigel Hicks, trail designer talks us through the main changes to the track and what he has done to make this such an exciting round! It's interesting to hear his ideas about bike choice and decision making. It has almost left riders with a sour choice to run the wrong the bike! [audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/5_audio.mp3"]
PMB is a pretty safe place in all honesty but the constant sighting of security, high fences and gate control does make the race feel rather confined. I suppose you better be safe than have a whole teams rides go missing!
So the Atherton’s came to town with this one. From a distance the frame is very 'similar' looking with only a few tweaks here and there. The major works seems to be all up front. Zero direct mount stem placed right on top of the 40s. Gee's mechanic, Pete, is keeping all the secrets tight to his chest though, in the audio clip he talks us through it. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/3_audio.mp3"]"
Early start down here in the pits for practice today. 8am and warming up already for what will be a long day. Emilie Siegenthaler stretching out on the TRX before heading up the hill.
And we are rolling. The big wheels started turning and within no time the speeds were heating up as fast as the competition. Bikes on track...we are going racing!