With practice in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon, Saturday was chock-a-block from start to finish at Fort William. Riders had plenty of time to get more familiar with the race track and the new rock-armoured section in the woods, while also getting their setup dialled in for the loose and dusty track surface.
The weather just about managed to hold up for most of the day, with only a brief shower falling between the women’s and men’s qualification sessions. Later on in the evening around 7pm though, the heavens finally opened up. A torrent of rain lashed it down over the Nevis Range, dousing all the poor marshals, photographers and spectators who’d amassed around the finish line chute to watch the 4X finals.
We were cooped up in the Media Centre next door to the finish line area, where the heavy rain had began pouring in around the open doors, and part of the marquee’s roof had given way in the near corner – conveniently right where all the power, routers and Wifi units were sitting.
The rain petered off about an hour later, just in time for all the the midges to resume their hunt for human blood. Likewise, the sticky conditions haven’t gone anywhere. Right now we’re at 91% humidity, and the temperature is due to peak at around 22°C today. In the woods section, it feels like a tropical rainforest. A bigger concern for riders than heat and humidity is more rain – the current forecast predicts rain to hit around 1pm, and if it’s as heavy as it was last night, then that’ll be a big issue for racers out on track.
The schedule for today kicks off with the Junior World Cup finals at 9:45am. Elite Women will be racing at 12:30pm, and the Elite Men will be racing at 1:30pm. We’ll be on-course to capture all the action in and around the racing, so stay tuned for more drama and excitement from the racing action.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a gallery of images from yesterday’s qualifying sessions, to give you some insight into the track conditions, the atmosphere, and just how pinned these racers are. For full results from qualifying, see our news story here on who was fastest on the day. Enjoy!