With the Norco Factory Racing boys on new bikes, the equipment was in check, the only thing standing in their way was the challenging Lourdes track. Rooty, rocky and hardpacked, it wasn't going to be easy.

Words: Thomas Gaffney

Henry  Fitzgerald took to the hill, the stoke was high, loving the trail and bike. All through practise he looked solid but come qualification run and in his nations jersey, he washed out, putting him out of contention for the big day. A sobering entry to his first elite world cup, showing just how unforgiving the category can be.
Joe Smith was looking super quick, ready for war and eager to get a good result under his belt after some stormers at Crankworx Rotorua. But in his qualification run he flipped the bars just before a big compression and after taking it like a champ, rode another 100 foot before ducking out the the tape with a dislocated shoulder. A sad start to the season for Joe, who has never not completed a qualification in world cup competition until now. Heal up soon brother!
Sam was feeling good, just excited to ride after being off with a shoulder injury from New Zealand and it showed! Looking loose and fast Sam came through qualifications in 17th place, but eager for more come race day. Race runs came and Sam was looking good, pedalling hard, even in the air! Frenchman Fayolle had set a blistering time, enough to hold Blenki off, with Sam finishing 20th, enough to protect him for Fort Will and sit in a top 20 spot coming into a fresh season. Just a start of things to come for the kiwi."