The weather was perfect! The racing was hot!
As was the case in 2022, the Downhill season kicked off in Paarl with a double-header event last weekend. Up for grabs were points for the SRAM Western Cape Downhill Series
and the 2023 SA Cup. The event had record entries (I haven’t seen this many riders at a DH in at least 20 years) with no less than 16 of the 150 strong field holding some sort of international racing experience. Now, throw in a slightly revised track which added technicality and the scene was set for some heated racing throughout the categories. Here’s your photo-style recap of the action.
Despite warm weather, there wasn’t much dust for Saturday’s practice sessions and the trains were running thick and fast.
There’s been growth in the women’s category, making up more than 10% of the field this weekend.
‘Shredder Girl’ – still battling to keep her kit clean all weekend. Stay on your bike Christeleigh!
Namibian rider Anne Cramer lining things up on one of the tighter turns.
Junior Boys is a competitive category! – Angus Copeland rode a 2:09 on the day.
Jessi Nixon, in the clay chute rut during practice.
Chris Groenewald clocked a 2:19 – good riding!
Philip van Schalkwyk – blitzing the track all weekend and locked down P2 in Junior Men.
Jonah Gray is growing into his DH bike and seems to be getting faster and faster every season. A 2:14 is a solid time Jonah.
All eyes were on the reigning SA Champ, Beani Thies.
The rock chute towards the top of the track has been a feature on the Paarl track for over 15 years and this weekend was particularly rough, requiring more precision than ever before…
… but it’s not a problem for Chris Nixon. Riding with a blown rear shock (no rebound) he still managed a 4th in the Masters class.
Weighting the outside pedal, looking through the turn and weighting the front end. That’s just picture perfect form by young Sven Estebeth.
What a place to ride bikes!
“… did you see that? I was like, braaap, then boooooft…”
Tom Foerster has incredible speed and even more bravery it seems. A slam on Saturday ended his weekend. I want to meet this guy.
This guy I know! It’s Gary Barnard. He hasn’t ridden here in Paarl for about a decade – he got a little pinged about on his short travel trail bike but still kept it pinned for the win in Vets. Look out for Gary this season – his new DH bike is on the way and I predict he’ll be keeping the kids honest all year on it.
Heels! YES! Go Jenna.
Anvia Bredenkamp gets a little cross-rutted dropping into the clay chute.
This is why…
Seth Barnard, P6 in a stacked Junior Men field today and repping hard for Bike Network all weekend. Good man!
… you absolutely can’t….
…. cross-rut in the chute.
Local rider Ross Swanevelder has plenty of speed all weekend.
Very impressive riding with some big sends (and a category win) for the 111 of William Nelson.
Chris Wagner – a bit of flow, lots of speed and P1 in the pant-game this weekend.
Zak Jones is one of the faster in the Youth Men category and exciting to watch.
Danika Botha from Gauteng, third fastest on the day and P1 in Junior Women. Excellent riding Dani.
It must be terrifying be that tall and havng to squeeze under and around trees like Theo does. Strong yoga game this weekend bru.
… said he was feeling a little off all weekend. He still clocked an impressive time for P2.
Keagan Brand, P9 overall and P4 in Junior is a solid start to the year.
Long time Downhill Racer Ivo Kittel is always up for a day of gravity. P56 in the overall for Ivo today.
Beani, with a little flash in the eye treatment from Chris Taylor.
Pieter Venter said he struggled with the track. He didn’t have his best weekend but still clocked a 1:49 for P13 overall.
Connor Finnis, P3 on the weekend is a strong result from a rider who really shines when things get steep. World Cup steep.
Styling into P1 in Masters Men went Dale Barnard.
Pottie, carrying speed has started his turn very early – look how close his rear wheel is to the inside of the rock. What a Master.
Jonah, hopping the gnar.
2:15 on the day. Nicely done Ezra!
Chip off the old block Morgan Louw left no turn unschralped.
Ross Kew. He’s a talent. He’s not here to influence. I get the feeling he’s here to win. And win he did.
Dan Fairbrother put his new whip into P31 overall. This kid shreds!
How to jump: Pedal hard and pull. As displayed by one of the biggest huckers in the business, Matt.
P2 in sub-vets for Justin Victor from Mpumalanga.
Barry Futter lines up the last three turns before the finish. P2 in Masters Men for Barry today.
Lucas Hugill has plenty of speed and skill. A 2:33 on a track like this is very quick for a 12-year-old man.
Ike Klaassen doesn’t necessarily have the speed to win on a track like this but the form is good ahead of the 2023 World Cup season and Ike seems hungry to have a good year. Smash it bru!
Strong pant game!
Roxy Baynes navigating the rock huck with precision.
Jordan de Goede everybody! P20 in the overall and the fastest Hellsend Team Rider on the day.
Gary Barnard threads the Zeb to P1 in Vets.
Connor Taylor ‘pushes’ the front.
Scorpion! The feet are above the head. It’s horrible when this happens – I know all about it.
Hope you are okay Connor.
P3 in Junior Men went to Ethan Hunter. Dear Giant, – please get this kid onto a DH bike. He’s got crazy talent! Thank you.
PvS – fighting cambers.
Flying all weekend it’s no surprise that Frankie du Toit took the win in the Elite Women field. 6 seconds up on a short track is a significant margin.
Fourie van Wyk, P1 in Youth Men is a great start to the season young man. Well done.
Fastest junior on the weekend? – Ross Kew. How fast? – VERY fast. Let’s just say that beating PvS here is not easy. PvS is a machine on this track. The margins were tight and yes PvS took the win in the first run, but today was all about the second run and Ross stepped it up. I’ve got the feeling we will see more close racing between these two in the future.
Fastest man all weekend? – Theo Erlangsen. I’ve never seen him look this hungry on-track. He never gave an inch, worked every mm of the track for every margin – and looked incredible. Well done bru. The podiums!
Well done everybody!
here. Thankfully we don’t have to wait long for the next dose of gravity action as the riders head to Zevenwacht for the second round, on 11-12 February.
See you at the next one.
| The 2023 SRAM Western Cape Downhill Series is proudly supported by:
SRAM, All Mountain Co, TCS Wifi, Leatt, PYGA, Kamikaze Apparel, Armour Ride, BikePark Uitsig, cSixx |
IMAGES: Chris Taylor / firstname.lastname@example.org |