Chipps, well done for having a go, none of the dirt staffers have made it up yet
A downhill bike is an excellent choice. Get hold of it as soon as you can and practice, get it dialled in, be comfy on it. Some take airsprung enduro bikes most use a DH rig....a handfull of us race hardtails, be carefull of them, lively bunch, Jesse Wigman managed to get 4th overall.
I will be taking a bouncy bike this year and joining Vets myself (must email frazer)
Get there early and you normally get access to the track in the morning, you really want to get up there and have 1 or 2 slow roll downs to look at lines, drop offs etc etc, the big world cup gap jump is not a feature, and the hip jump and Tissot jump can be ridden round.
If possible get up there a day or 2 before. If you have a practice day, take it easy, you may have trouble walking if you over practice. You really don't want to try and race with out looking at the track.
The start, not so manic, take your pick, try to sprint a DH bike uphill in full armour for a couple of KM with out bonking/puking or just womble up at a nice pace. The uphill start is designed to spread things out, and it will. Orange225 (and many others now)have a habit of turning DH rigs into a hardtail for the sprint (zip ties, wood wedges)last year was way too hot for me and i nearly puked in me helmet on the way up, year before that i zipped past 50 riders on the hardtail on the ride up.
Racing it self varies, the real contenders are knocking out 5+min runs over and over again, the rest of us are trying to survive 6 hours so take it a bit easy, however the faster you go the smoother it is, slower beats you up more.
Expect to be passed maybe a few times a lap, so far rider conduct has been excellent, some sections do not allow overtaking they have to wait, NEVER look back ever you will crash, get over hold your line and shout the overtaker through when safe to do so, large sections of the track have minimal pull over space or run off.
The spares you take in to the technical area are what you have, no nipping back to the van mid race.
Gears are only needed for the sprint start, Orange225 (and many others) ditch rear mechs and chains mid race, shed some weight go faster, save energy by not pedaling.
A spare set of wheels is a must, if you can set up with rotors and cassette and inflated tyres ready to roll for an instant swap, have a pump and tube on you anyway, and master the art of DH bike wheel removal. It may be faster to roll on a flat or try to fix it. I managed to run down from the top in 38mins when the tyre bead let go, this was quicker than trying to get back and take the gondola down and i still bagged the run (crap time but a run)
Riders drop out from run 1, bikes let go, suspension fails, wheels break etc etc etc
I belive the outlaw riders will be on heckle duty again, this can vary from being manhugged by a drunk in a ginger wig, to being flashed by 3 young ladies (can email you a photo of that if needed)
It's late and i am tired as i have been out having my first ride on susser for many years, pre race getting to know my bike, i have done write up's for all the previous races, so a quick google search should bring up lots of ramblings and photos (mostly on dirts webber)
Fantatsic event, killer mix of riders and racers and some mental racing.
P.S. what bike you picked ?