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World Cup Geek Stats: Lenzerheide 2016

All the stats on Danny Hart's maiden World Cup win

Finally! Nearly half a decade after the race that put him on the map as a world class downhill racer, Danny Hart now has a World Cup win to go with his rainbow stripes. While his World Championship win was one of the biggest wins of all time, this one was a bit tighter – less than tenth of a second stood betwen Hart and Aaron Gwin at the finish. Let’s take a look at where such a tiny sliver of time was won and lost…

The lie of the land

For once the sectors were quite evenly sized. The top section was the longest, at just over 50 seconds, the three middle sectors were between 30 and 40 seconds and then the final sector was a mere 23 seconds or so, but what an important sector it would turn out to be….

Sector 1

At the first split there were a few new faces in the top 10. Ruaridh Cunningham, on his way to his best ever World Cup result of 9th, was in third position at split 1, Remi Thirion back on form in 6th and Jack Reading in 7th. The usual suspects Aaron Gwin led the pack but Hart was only just over a quarter of a second back and Greg Minnaar slotted in to 4th place. The times were tight however – less than two seconds separated the top 20 at this point…

Sectors 2 & 3

Into sector 2 and at this point it was Greg Minnaar who was the main challenger to Gwin. He went fastest on the sector and closed the gap to a mere 0.073 seconds. Minnaar had an absolute stormer of a second sector, going 0.7 seconds faster than Gwin and taking over a second out of Hart. In contrast, the rest of the top 20 was convered by only a couple more seconds. While Cunningham and Reading fell away slightly here, Remi Thirion was still very much in the hunt for his second World Cup win, beating Hart to third place on the sector and moving up to fourth overall.

 

Gwin then started to pull away again very slightly in sector 3. He went fastest on the sector and pulled out about a quarter of a second on Hart and Minnaar, although both were still within one second going into the final minute of racing. Sector 3 was also where Brendan Fairclough started his charge up the field. After slightly disappointing 21st and 23rd places in the first two sectors, he was less than a tenth of a second slower than Aaron Gwin and moved up to 14th overall at split 3. Connor Fearon also had the best sector of his race, going 3rd fastest and moving up one place to 6th – knocking on the door of the podium…

Sectors 4 & 5

After three sectors it looked like it was going to be a familiar story for Danny Hart – a quick run, maybe a podium but agonisingly short of the win yet again. This time though, the story was different. Hart hit the gas in the final two sectors and no one had an answer. In sector 4, with the entire top 10 covered by only 1.8 seconds he took over half a second out of Aaron Gwin, which also halved Gwin’s lead and put him up into second place, just ahead of Greg Minnaar.

Conversely, this was where Minnaar lost the chance of another win for his tally, a mistake putting him only 19th on the sector, 1.8 seconds back from Hart. Remi Thirion was also still going strong in third place on the sector and consolidating his fourth place overall. Sector 4 was also where Troy Brosnan lost the battle for the final podium position and gave up the vital overall points that meant Hart would leapfrog him in the overall standings at the end of the race. A mistake put him 25th on the sector while Connor Fearon went fourth and sneaked onto the final podium spot with only the final 23 seconds of racing to go…

23 seconds to race and Aaron Gwin has nearly a half second advantage. If I was a betting man, I’d stick my money on Gwin to win 9 times out of 10. This time though, was that tenth time… Gwin didn’t do a lot wrong – going 6th fastest on the stage – but crucially, Danny Hart continued his flying bottom sectors and stormed feet up through the final turns to grab just over half a second and sneak the win by the tiniest of margins – less than one tenth of a second! Bredan Fairclough also finished off a storming bottom half of the course only just behind Hart on the sector and completed a stunning recovery from 20th at split 2 to 8th at the finish.

Putting it all together

Looking across all the sectors this was a tight tussle to rival the cut and thurst between Troy Brosnan and Loic Bruni in Cairns at the start of the year. While Gwin was faster in all of the first three sectors, Hart was only 0.25-0.4 seconds slower. Even when he went faster in the bottom two sectors it wasn’t by much – just half a second in each one but importantly just enough to sneak the win in the end.

Name Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Sector 4 Sector 5
Aaron Gwin Fastest Fastest Fastest +0.525 +0.503
Danny Hart +0.284 +0.394 +0.254 Fastest Fastest

We can see this in the heatmap where they shared four out of five of the top sector times and only Gwin was outside the top 5 with his sixth place final sector. This also shows up the obvious hole in Greg Minnaars run in sector 4. Just goes to show the tiny margins that World Cup races are won and lost on these days.

Sector heatmap

The position tracker shows up the story of the race quite well too. Hart down in third place at split 3 but taking advantage of slight mistakes from Minnaar and Gwin, and also putting in some quick sectors to sneak the win. The other standout line on this chart is the steep rise of Brendan Fairclough up from 21st at split 1, climbing steadily to 8th as the race progressed.

Position tracker

So, another name to put on the list of World Cup winners. It’s fair to say that Danny Hart doesn’t do boring! From one of the biggest wins of all time to one of the tightest it’s always been exciting! Can he put some more pressure on Gwin in the final two rounds to add some even more excitement in the overall? Here’s hoping…

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