Downhill practice & qualification, 4X finals.
It’s been an excellent day for the Brits, with Katy Curd winning the womens 4X final and Rachel Atherton & Danny Hart finishing fastest in downhill qualifying.
Fort William always has a fantastic atmosphere and the awesome weather no doubt added to that today, keeping lots of spectators up on the hill for the duration of the riding and everyone else wandering the expo in search of shade/a breeze/an iced coffee.
Dry weather means the track is running fast and loose, with pinch flats being the order of the day. More than a handful of riders rolled in on flat or unseated rubber and young Brit Harry Malloy finished his qualifying run on foot – to big noise from an enthusiastic crowd – after destroying his rear wheel.
In the womens qualifiers, Atherton (GT) proved unstoppable, cruising in over six seconds in front of Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre). Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) finished in third, a further 3 seconds back – no mean feat considering she spent yesterday suffering from food poisoning. We’re looking forward to seeing what she pulls out of the bag tomorrow.
The usual names were still present at the top of the men’s qualifying times, though not in the order you might expect. Aaron Gwin finished over eight seconds adrift on fastest rider, Danny Hart (Giant) – though just 0.176 seconds separate Hart and second-fastest rider, Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing). Sam Blenkinsop and Mick Hannah both make it into the top 10 while Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat are well down the list – we’ll wait and see what happens tomorrow for the real thing, though there’s some good news for lovers of showboating – Cedric Gracia is through to the final, qualifying 79th out of 80.
Last event of the day was the 4X finals – big crowds packed the stands to watch Czech Tomas Slavik (RSP) and home favourite Katy Curd (Rose Vaujany) take the top steps. Jubilant faces are always a great end to a day’s racing, even more so when it’s a domestic rider taking the crown.
The weather forecast remains good for tomorrow so hopefully we’ll see more of the same (and won’t have to use our parasols as brollies) – though if you were watching last year you’ll know that a glorious Saturday just like this one gave way to a damp and grey Sunday. It could yet be all change. Events kick off at 12.30 with the junior mens DH finals but we’ll there from sparrowfart bringing you the latest news on @STWFortBill.