Corona Dirtmasters Downhill

Spectacular action highlighted the inaugural Corona Dirtmasters Downhill in the Ben Lomond Forest at the Queenstown Bike Festival today (April 24), as 80 competitors took on the challenge with top honours going to national downhill exponent Reon Boe of Queenstown, in a time 5.08.50 minutes.
Collen Tocher - Dunedin Photo: Camilla Stoddart
Boe was the fastest qualifier and the top seed and a big crowd gathered at the Brecon Street steps to watch him put in the quickest run of the day ousting second fastest rider, Rupert Chapman of Christchurch, who clocked 5.13.56, from the “hot seat.” “This was an awesome race and it such a good thing for Queenstown,” says Boe. “I am sure we can get lots more people to come here in summer and hopefully one day we can hold a World Cup downhill.” Festival co-ordinator Geoff Hunt predicts the Dirtmasters will grow into a major event. “This was the inaugural event in the inaugural festival and the huge interest it has created amongst both spectators and riders bodes well for the future. This is a developing sport and judging by the numbers of people on the hill, lining the street and gathering on nearby balconies, it’s the sort of action people love.” Competitors rode the Skyline gondola to the top of the course which was held on a track established by the Queenstown Mountain Biking Club finishing at the Queenstown camp ground. Riders then rode into the final finish arena via the Brecon Street steps. “It was fantastic to see the riders come down the stairs, getting lots of air and gapping the last set of stairs,” says Hunt. “It all added to the excitement of the finish which was hyped by the commentators.” Veteran mountain biker Tony Moore says the downhill has huge potential. “Today’s race was impressive, a really good start. Riders have come from all over the country and the draw is Queenstown and also the gondola. They like to know that their bikes will be looked after and putting them on a gondola means they will arrive at the top undamaged, unlike some events where they are shifted round on the back of trucks.” Moore says qualification is likely to become more competitive for future events as more riders are attracted to enter. “For this first event everyone qualified and we set a reasonably mellow course to allow ‘have a go’ downhillers to enter but as the event gets sharper the hill will become more geared to it and focus around higher end riders.” In the open men’s section Jec Rooney of Oamaru placed second in 5.16.10 and Edward Masters of New Plymouth put up a strong challenge finishing third in 51.16.18. Chapman won the under-20 section followed by Christchurch’s Nick McConachie in 5.23. One of the stars of the day was 17-year-old Reuben Olorenshaw of Nelson who held the hot seat against many older competitors with his blistering time of 5.18. “The course was in perfect condition after being slippery during qualifying, “he says. “It had dried out and was quite grippy.” Olorenshaw clearly won the under- 18 title and is eyeing a future in downhill biking and will compete at the World Championships in Switzerland in August. The veteran men’s title went to Seb Kemp of Queenstown in 5.22.44 , heading off local guru Jim Hawkridge who clocked 5.29.20 and Vertigo’s Tim Ceci in 5.31.59. The master’s title went to well known Queenstown rider Graeme (Morg) Morgan, who put on top performance recording 5.33.08 and holding the hot seat for 13 places, before being ousted by Ceci. The fastest woman of the day was junior Veronique Sandler of Nelson competing in the under 16 section and clocking 6.27.35. Veteran Teresa Blanpain of Dunedin won her category in 6.39.28 while the open women’s title went to Canadian Amy Freedman Davies who made her debut in the event. She recorded 6.59.18 despite crashing on the course to beat national women’s mountain bike champion Kate Fluker, also competing in her first ever downhill event. She timed out at 7.15.88, placing second, and says she will be riding in more downhill events in the future. “It was awesome and I was stoked because I shaved a minute off my qualifying time. This is such a great event for Queenstown, everyone’s loving it.” Photos will available on the web site of the

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