Downhill season is upon us! While the Enduro crew flocked to Falls Creek and Thredbo for their massive opening weekends, 280 Downhillers descended on Narbethong for Round 2 of the Victorian Downhill Series (VDHS). Held over two days (18-19 Nov), athletes would practice all day Saturday and Sunday morning before racing Sunday afternoon. Queuing up in the shuttle line were some big names of Australian DH including World Cup star Dean Lucas, Shannon Hewetson, Joel Willis, Olly and Ben Zwar, Darcy Coutts, Lee Ellis, Aaron Gungl and the Pannozo brothers. 8 women would also line up including returning star Ellie Wale, Sarah Silverlock, Rachel Hore and young Jessica Sheridan.

As there is a National DH round to be held at Narbethong early next year, many people were here to test out the track in a race situation. The shuttle line was long but steadily people were ferried to the top thanks to the volunteers from Fat Tyre Flyers and the VDHS. The morning of Day 1 dawned clear after an overnight soaking of rain so the conditions couldn’t have been much better. The track is lush soil that weaves it way down dense forest and is pure joy to ride, but nothing this good could last forever…

Almost 280 riders in the shuttle line on Saturday morning.
The shuttles couldn’t quite get all the way to the top. A short hike became a good warm up
Crafty bike rack at the top.
Dean Lucas and Olly Zwar scoping out the track early.
With such a long track (0ver 5 minutes), most riders stopped frequently to check lines.
This notorious rut! A blind drop leads to a massive rut down the centre of the track. Either left or right were fine but the centre line had many people on edge.
Ellie Wale is back! After a while away from the sport it’s great to see her back on track.
Darcy Coutts up into Elite!
Pushing back up to try out the new double drop section.
Jay Cottrell getting loose on the double drop.
Sarah Silverlock making the track look easy.
Shannon Hewetson was hauling ass every time I saw him. The defending champ was hungry for that top step.
Liam Panozzo creeping in the jungle.
Liam lead Joel through the loam and ferns.
Joel Willis made the trip down from Sydney to take on the Victorians!
Super dense forest down here in the Yarra Valley
Around 2pm the clouds began to gather and there was thunder on the horizon, it started to drizzle not long after.
Even one of the best Downhillers in the world was finding it a bit slippery. Dean Lucas just as the storm hit.
Then… The storm really hit hard…
As most riders called it an early day, some stayed on to session the hill with friends.
Maximum grip…
Smiles all round
The last ones standing.

Day 2. Race Day!

Once again the shuttle line was packed. Racers trying to maximise the early morning practice.
No riding uphill for these riders.
The rut claims another victim early on Sunday.
Liam Panozzo in the early morning light.
Early morning light…
Elliot Reid had another one of those weekends… Next race mate!
Shannon Hewetson on the fern slalom course.
Yes, there were leeches… Lots of leeches…
Qualifying came around and Dean Lucas took the fastest time, we’d see him be the last man down the hill later that day.
Oliver Zwar back on the big rig, hope to see him back up to speed on the new bike next year!
Post practice mishaps…
Aiden Varley had a smile all weekend, he couldn’t crack the top 10 this weekend though. (Probably because he was looking at the camera).
Not all of the short travel mountain bikers fled to the alpine areas. Jonah Cosgriff was one of the fastest enduro racers taking the win in U17 Short Travel Class.
David Ferroni took the win in Veterans!
One last shuttle up for today’s fastest.
Tracey McGuire. 5th place in Elite Women.
Jessica Sheridan took 4th in Elite Women, the future is bright!
Rachel Hore took 3rd in Elite Women
Sarah Silverlock took Silver this weekend. 2nd Elite Women.
But the champion by over 1 minute was Ellie Wale!!!
3rd place in U19s with a sub 5 minute run was Ethan Corney.
Cooper Downey took a solid 2nd place in U19s
Aaron Gungl took the win with a scorching 4:46!!! He would have placed 3rd in Elite with that time!
Conditions for the Elite Men were pretty much perfect.
5th place went to Ben Zwar. Is he now the faster brother? We’ll find out at the end of the season!
4th place went to Lee Ellis who went 11 seconds faster than his qualifier!
Joel Willis slid into 3rd place, almost upsetting all of the Victorians…
Shannon Hewetson was on a mission but just missed the win. 2nd place and a season back on track!
The one and only. Dean Lucas, 1st place in 4:41
Ben Zwar, stoked.
Joel Willis trying to figure out how to improve in time for the National round here next year.
Aaron Gungl joking with Shannon Hewetson. “You just beat my time”
Dean was cooked after his run!
Post race story time.
Your fastest women in Victoria!

Elite Female
1st Ellie Wale 6:01.853
2nd Sarah Silverlock 7:05.994 (+1:04)
3rd Rachel Hore 7:29.038 (+1:27)
4th Jessica Sheridan 7:43.998 (+1:42)
5th Tracey Maguire 8:07.888 (+2:06)

The Elite men podium (with Ollie Davis stealing the show).

Elite Male
Dean Lucas 4:41.729
2nd Shannon Hewetson 4:45.413 (+3.7s)
3rd Joel Willis 4:48.918 (+7.2s)
4th Lee Ellis 4:49.977 (+8.3s)
5th Ben Zwar 4:50.903 (+9.2s)

All results can be found at the: VDHS Facebook

Big shout out to all of the volunteers at Fat Tyre Flyers and the VDHS. This crew runs the best series in the country. 

See you next year at Round 3, on 27-28 January at Mount Buller!

All photographs and story by Matt Rousu. Check out his website at