Dirt’s very own ‘Geek Statistician’, Mark Shilton, ploughs through all the facts and figures to give us the low down on what happened at the Lenzerheide World Cup in the Senior Men’s race:
Another World Cup and yet more surprises and records tumbling. Greg Minnaar now out on his own as the most successful World Cup racer of all time and, at the other end of the spectrum of experience, Dean Lucas took his first senior World Cup podium two years after three podiums and a win in his final year as a junior. It was also the closest race of the season. Only 6.486 seconds separated the entire top 20 in the men’s field compared to 11 and 12 seconds at Lourdes and Fort William.
Time gaps across the podium, top 10 and top 20 so far this year
|Winning time||Podium||Top 10||Top 20|
|% Gap (% slower than winning time)|
To put it another way, Ruaridh Cunningham in 20th place was a mere 3.6% slower than Greg Minnaar. That’s how tight the margins are on the shorter World Cup tracks these days. So where did Greg find that extra few percent for the 18th time? Let’s take a look…
Although the first couple of corners were some of the trickiest on the course, the times were very tight at split 1 meaning it was possible to be a little way back here and still make it up come the finish line. There was less than 2 seconds separating the top 20 here but Greg Minnaar started as he meant to go on by going fastest by 0.4 seconds from Connor Fearon with Dean Lucas in third. Brendan Fairclough, winner of the Swiss Cup race in Lenzerheide last year, was right in the mix at split 1 in 6th place but the most surprising new name on the list was Slawomir Lukasik. He didn’t race in Lourdes or Fort William and failed to qualify in Leogang but here in Lenzerheide he qualified 16th and was running in 8th place at split 1.
Of the riders that ended up in the top 10, Aaron Gwin was back in 26th at split 1 and Brook Macdonald was 31st; 2.1 and 2.3 seconds back respectively. Gwin’s run looked more scrappy than usual on the live feed and it showed up in the times on track.
Into the second sector and Minnaar just kept up the relentless pace. Connor Fearon went down and was out of the equation but Bruni and Lucas were hanging in there although they gave away 0.1 and 0.5 seconds respectively. Incredibly, after a crash in sector 1 Bernard Kerr was charging down the rest of the course regardless. He went third fastest in sector 2 only half a second slower than Greg. First year Senior rider Amaury Pierron was also looking to make up after a slow start. He was 62nd at split 1 but the fifth fastest sector 2 moved him just into the top 20 overall at split 2.
Slawomir Lukasik went 11th fastest in sector 2 but with others making mistakes this was enough to move him up to 7th overall at split 2. With Fearon’s crash, top 7 sector times from Troy Brosnan and Remi Thirion moved them into the last two podium slots at split 2. By split 2, the top 3 were within a second of each other, but there was a further second back to Thirion in fourth place.
Sector 3 and Greg Minnaar was denied a clean sweep of sectors by a mere 6 thousandths of a second. Gee’s fastest time in sector 3 was enough to sneak onto the podium ahead of Remi Thirion and nearly overtake Troy Brosnan as well. As it was Brosnan held on to fourth spot by just a quarter of a second. Sadly for Slawomir Lukasik he washed out in one of the many loose corners and crashed out of contention – hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future.
Minnaar may have rightly grabbed the headlines but Dean Lucas had enough of a time buffer to go 10th in sector 3 and still hold on to third place overall – his first senior podium. Aaron Gwin managed to make up three places on the bottom section to make 8th place by the finish. It might not have been what he’s been used to this year so far but those extra points could well be crucial come the end of the season. It was also great to see Steve Smith continuing his rehabilitation with 9th place – his first top 10 of the season.
A record breaking weekend
A scorching hot and dusty weekend ends with one veteran taking over from another at the top of the all time wins chart and the scores at two wins apiece for Minnaar and Gwin so far this year. Although Loic Bruni is still yet to make that top spot he’s been consistent this year and holds onto second place in the overall. Gwin still has the advantage but the gap is now down to less than 100 points and with three rounds to go, whoever can grab the initiative in Mont-Sainte-Anne will surely be well set to take the overall crown at the end in Val Di Sole. It’s a huge cliche to talk about building momentum in a season, but the thing about cliches is that they tend to become cliches because they’re true…