The story of qualifying is one of hits and misses… of finding the flow and of getting into the groove.
This is a track that on the surface looks pretty simple, but to race it successfully you need to be in the zone, to find the right pace, to get the grip and link it all together. The first rock section is only about 25 seconds into the track yet get it wrong and it will affect your rhythm and perception of your run. Many riders I spoke to at the finish line mentioned that they had got this section wrong and that had then had a knock on effect to the rest of their run.
Greg Minnaar finished second but was noticeably unhappy with his run. He had messed up the rocks and that then set the tone for the rest of his run as he tried to make amends. Missed lines, blown corners… as he strove to make back the lost time things may have even become a little dangerous. But he should be happy, the run may have been unsatisfactory but the result, and points, will be much welcomed. And lets not forget that Minnaar won here last year.
Gee Atherton didn’t have much fun up there either, but the biggest loser of the day was current series leader Aaron Gwin. There is no doubt that Gwin is the one to watch, the man of the moment. Second at split one, second at split two (but only by a tiny amount) it all went wrong in the woods and on the now infamous ‘Plunge’ (broken legs, broken commentators). He came into the rooty section before it pretty hot, unclipping one foot as the back end of his bike swung around behind him. Both feet then unclipped, he tried to get back on his bike but with his seat and pants getting slightly tangled he ended up kind of buckarooing about as he tried to regain some kind of control. He went off ‘The Plunge’ not in control and ended up over the bars and down the track… it was not a pretty sight. Thankfully he got up immediately and carried on with his run. Lets hope there is no serious injury for race day.