Saracen British Downhill Series – Round 2 – Fort William – Sunday 12th May 2013

For round 2 of the Saracen British Downhill Series the team headed north to the Scottish Highlands and the UK’s Outdoor Capital Fort William. Widely regarded as one of the toughest downhill courses on the World Cup Downhill circuit, this race was seen by many of the world’s top downhill racers, as the chance to get some time on track a month ahead of the opening round of the 2013 World Cup Series which takes place in Fort William over the weekend of the 8th and 9th June.

Fort William’s 3km downhill course winds its way down the slopes of Aonach Mòr and is punctuated by unforgiving rocks, jumps, drops and steep rooty tree lined sections. All of this before the riders are fired out of the woods and onto the final section of the track known affectionately as the motor way which see riders launching over a series of massive jumps before dropping down a steep shoot and jumping into the finish arena.

As with round one the weather was a big factor and the riders were in for another wet and windy weekend. However the Fort William Track is designed to handle the worst of the weather and aside from the short sections through the trees the track conditions were a lot better than round one.

However as the riders get to the top by cable car the wind was a major consideration and with this in mind seeding which normally takes place on Sunday morning was brought forward to Saturday afternoon. With only a morning’s practice on track Blockhead Downhill team rider Josh Lowe was still getting up to speed as he recorded a time of 5.27.24 in his seeding run which was still fast enough to seed him in 9th place.

With the racing starting at 11am it was an early start for the team on Sunday morning. Josh was the first rider down as practice got underway and he focussed on getting his lines dialled and the Fox Suspension on his Trek bike set up for his race run. By the end of the morning’s practice session Josh was feeling confident that the seconds he’d been looking for had been found and that he was ready to improve on his seeding run time.

Racing at National Level is never easy and at the top of the course you could cut the atmosphere with a knife as a heady mix of nerves and adrenaline filled the air. Not only were the racers against each other and the clock but they were against the course too and Fort William course is renowned for being unforgiving for those that don’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

Josh was more than up for the challenge though and made the perfect start to his race run launching out of the start house. Carrying speed is all important when it comes to making time through the challenging fast rocky top section of the track and Josh wasn’t hanging around.

However Josh’s chances of repeating his win at round one were soon gone along with the air in his front tyre as he rounded one of the many corners only around a minute into his race run.

Not the result the team had all hoped for but there were a number of positives to take away from what had been a very productive weekend. “Unfortunately punctures are an element of racing. We do all we can to prevent them and this was the first of the weekend. Josh had done 8 runs of the course over Saturday and Sunday with no problems. It’s unfortunate that this happened on his race run, especially as we had every chance of being on the podium again” said Team Manager and Performance Coach Ian Warby.

“I was feeling confident and riding well, so to puncture as high up on the course as I did was frustrating. The changes we’d made over night and this morning had made a big difference and I was feeling confident of putting in a good time.  There are lots of positives from the weekend and I’m looking forward to getting back on the podium at round three in Innerliethan in a few weeks’ time” said Team Rider Josh Lowe.

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