Coming up soon in 2018 is the MTBA National Downhill series, covering 3 venues of racing for the series, the National Championships and the Oceania Championships in New Zealand. Kicking off shortly with a return to Coffs Harbour’s track after a long pause of riding at that venue and moving through 2 venues in NSW and 2 in VIC the National series will hopefully bring out the country’s best downhill riders to see who will take the podiums and glory in 2018.
Will reigning National downhill champ Jack Moir continue his great form or will one of our other riders take the crown?
With the Oceania champs being in New Zealand have a good turnout of Aussies ready to keep the honours from falling to our friends across the ditch?
Here’s a run down of all the stages in the calendar for 2018, in calendar order…
Round 1: Coffs Harbour, NSW
Date: January 20-22
The Coffs Harbour downhill track is one that’s been around for a long time however has been notably absent from state and national downhill series calendars in recent years owing to some unfortunate land access issues. The local club and track builders have now resolved those issues and have put in the hard yards to rebuild the track. The track is one that is challenging to ride at any pace with multiple line options and features.
A few words from the track builder:
“Some features to get excited for are the iconic log drop which sends riders off a fallen tree into some super fun turns and into the natural terrain of roots and rocks in the slippery forest. The trail is loaded with jumps of all sizes to enhance speed and skill and to clear natural landscapes. There’s some fun lines for all to manage and bigger gaps for the fast guys and girls. We’ve prepared a course full of natural obstacles and carefully planned lines that tempt a rider to go for the gap to shave a few seconds off their time. This course is fast at any speed you choose to ride.”
Previous Winners: Coffs Harbour hasn’t hosted a national round but it has hosted a few NSW State rounds. Back in 2011 in U19, Jack Moir posted a 2nd with Jake Newell 3rd, those two are now racing elite of course, with Jack Moir on world cup podium pace. Tracey Hannah won that round in Female Elite. Local pinner Josh Button will be looking to capitalise on his local knowledge.
Round 2: Awaba, NSW
Date: 3-4 February
The “Monkey” track at Awaba is a real test of downhill riders, being one of the longest downhill courses in Australia and requiring riders to have a huge amount of skill to navigate at race winning pace. The top section is quite technical leading to some flat-out riding before around half way down meeting a vicious rock garden. WIth a B-line available in the rock garden that sometimes takes more skill than the A-line and then even more technical features to traverse afterwards the track is definitely tough.
Last year’s National round was marked by heatwave temperatures, with the mercury soaring in practice to 45 degrees celsis plus. Let’s hope that heat doesn’t return again, but in racing anything can happen.
Previous Winners: At the 2017 National round, Troy Brosnan won and Jake Newell came 2nd followed by Jackson Frew. In Female Elite, Danni Beecroft took the win with Tegan Molloy in 2nd ahead of Sarah Booth and Kellie Weinert. Jack Moir didn’t compete in 2017 and being a local, if competing in 2018 will be the hot favourite for the win.
Oceania Championships: Dunedin, NZ
Course: Signal Hill
Date: February 9-11
Want roots? Want rocks? Want wide open grassland sections? The course at Signal Hill (Also home to officially the world’s steepest street) in Dunedin, South Island NZ has it all. Lots of log drops, roots, rocks, and a tabletop jump right at the finish line for the Oceania Championships. It will be interesting to see how many Aussies make the trip over for this round, but with plenty of talent from NZ ready to race here it will be an exciting weekend, Aussies or not!
Previous Winners: The current Oceania Downhill champions from 2017, held at Toowoomba are Josh Button in Elite Male and Danni Beecroft in Elite Female.
Championships: Bright, VIC
Date: 2-4 March
A mix of native forest and plantation pine lines the track at Bright which is a technical, loamy track built in a working pine forest. Last holding a National Champs in 2016, the Bright course is a favourite for riders (as evidenced by the #brightforchamps guerilla campaign) and for photographers and spectators with its combination of great alpine scenery and golden light.
These photos from back in the day in 2014 (check out Troy’s kit!) give an overview of the course…
The reigning Men’s champion from 2017 is Jack Moir with Ronja Hill-Wright taking the championship in 2017 at Mount Joyce. In 2016, the last time that Bright held a National Championships, Troy Brosnan took the Elite Male win with Tracey Hannah capturing the win in Elite Female.
Round 3: Narbethong, VIC
Date: 17-18 March
Previous Winners: No national round has been run at Narbethong, however Dean Lucas won a recent Victorian state round there with Shannon Hewetson in 2nd, with Ellie Wale taking the win in Female Elite. See our recent coverage of that race: http://gravitydownunder.com/2017/11/victorian-downhill-series-round-2-narbethong