Coffs Harbour, a town known for its beautiful beaches, stunning National Parks, a rich history of local downhill racing and a Big Banana, was always going to provide a great platform to start this year’s MTBA National downhill series. With a several year hiatus since a race had been held here at Coffs Harbour, local organisers were keen to show the rest of Australia what a fantastic downhill venue they could provide. Located 15 minutes from the town centre on Mount Coramba, the track with an Elevation variation of 300m over a distance of 2km, is best known as loose and fast, consisting of open fast chutes, tight technical forest sections and an abundance switchback turns, step -downs, logs drops and the intimidating ‘Executioner’ water bar fire road gap.

National park meets beaches and estuaries. Coffs Harbour definitely put on a show this weekend.
The local currency

With a start list including local rider Josh Button, current national champions Jack Moir  and Danielle Beecroft, World cup riders Graeme Mudd and Tegan Molloy and a host of strong national series regulars, competition for the first round was always going to be tough. Could our current national champions continue their winning form here on home soil after successful racing overseas or would we see a host of new racers riser to the top step? With a start list of 180 riders including a large contingent of racers making the trip down from QLD and plenty of regulars back for the season and wanting to make a name for themselves, only time would tell.

Josh Running his 2017 World Champs Kona Operator – with complementary Casper white racing kit
Team mate Tegan Molloy was also running her World Champs frame with fresh number 2 plate to match. All eyes were on Tegan to back up her success this year at the Cannonball Festival
Aptly named ‘The Executioner’ this steep fireroad gap was intimidating for many riders with many opting to not risk it due to the high speed nature of this section of track. Word quickly spread that Jack Moir had sent the huge gap Saturday morning and slowly but surely the list of successful attempts rose by the days end.
Pacey Stockton hitting warp speed on the fireroad. This is the landing of ‘The Executioner’ with the kicker in the dust cloud in the distance – Yes all the way back there
Tegan looked strong all weekend, holding good speed through all sections of the track
QLD’er Niki Barber always looking stylish for the camera
Cooper Downey making easy work of the short but tight rock chute
Matt Carter
The loose dusty corners (think cairns World Champs) were no issue for Jacob Mossner
Hayden Wittingslow shows everyone how its done – just hang it out the back
Jackson Frew seemed to be adjusting fine to the new bike and team seeding in 6th place.
Daniel Hallam, part of the large contingent of riders that made their way down from QLD.
Luke Meier-Smith pinning it on a Enduro bike – Luke would eventually the win just less than 10 seconds clear of 2nd. A bright future lays ahead for the young pinner
Josh Button at home in the dust
Jake Newell a favourite of many photographers, stylish as always
Seeding was the first real test of how much speed and grip the track really had. Ellie Smith kept it composed through the forest chute with a first in seeding.
Andrew Cavaye also made light works of the dust and roots, with the Young QLD’er slotting into 14th in seeding.
Fourth place seeding for Muddy in conditions that contradict his namesake. First, second and third seeding would be taken by Jack Moir, Joel Willis and Josh button respectively.
A solid day on the bike would see Tegan Molloy finish 3rd in seeding. Lisa Mathison would seed in 2nd with Danielle Beecroft setting the fastest time of the day in Elite Women.

Race Day

Luke Meier-Smith on the way to victory
Reigning Expert Men National Champion Jason Henderson would again prove why he is at the top of the podium with another win. His time would have put him 30th in Elite men.
Zane Stratton keeping it low through the corners. With the stump drop directly before, maintaining speed and line choice were critical here to ensure you didn’t lose time.

U19’s Women

In the u19’s Women, Ellie Smith took out top spot with a time of 4:17.967; a solid 18 seconds clear of second place rider Sally Potter. Aimee Allmand followed in third place.

Ellie Smith on the gas to the finish

U19’s Men

With a stacked field of 28 riders including the likes of Aaron Gungl, Niki Barber, Patrick Butler and Bryce Heathcote, the times were close and competition was fierce. 1st Place qualifier Ethan Corney was unfortunately unable to back up his time of 3:40.828. Coming down the mountain with 4 risers yet to go, Matt Carter set a blistering time of 3:35.929 which would give him the win and would have placed him 7th in the elite men’s field. Aaron Gungl and Niki barber were soon to follow and would slot into second and third, 0.554 and 0.937 seconds back respectively; times that would also place both riders in the top 10 men’s elite field.

Niki Barber with razor sharp focus. 3rd place is fantastic result for the young pinner
Pat Butler now riding for Mondraker, good things to come from this young rider.
Matt Carter, your U19’s Round 1 winner putting down the power

Elite Women

Once again in the Elite Women, it was a question of who could knock Danielle Beecroft from that top elite Women’s step. With Katie Lawler back from injury and Tegan Molloy fresh off a win at Cannonball, the win was truly up for grabs. Crossing the line with a time of 4:11.902 Tegan Molloy would take out third place, another solid podium result for the Thredbo and Kona rider. Next down the hill, Lisa Matheson would snatch the hot seat from Molloy, a staggering 11 seconds faster for the QLDer with a time of 4:00.338.

Kellie Weinert sending it into the forest, another great result with 5th place on the podium.
Back from injury, and back up to speed, Katie was back to her form from last year. Just the result needed to start the season off well
While Tegan couldn’t back up her result from Cannonball earlier in the year, a podium finish of third for the opening round is a strong start to the national series.

With such a solid time the crowd was left wondering, could Lisa take the much wanted win with a time 5 seconds quicker than Beecroft in seeding. Alas it was not to be, with Danni Beecroft putting in a lung busting effort to take 7 seconds off her seeding time and take the win with a time of 3:57.025.

Lisa Mathison sending the finish line tabletop into second place for the QLD’er
Danielle Beecroft does it again. with the Crankworx series a short while away, Danni is looking ready to take on and fight for the Queen of Crankworx title

Elite Men

With Local hero Josh button unfortunately out of the race due to a nasty ankle injury, all eyes were on Graeme Mudd and Joel Willis to challenge Jack Moir for the win. With a top seeding time of 3:31.938 Jack was going to be hard to beat. The first rider to come within a second of that time was young QLD pinner Andrew Cavaye with a solid 3:32.299. With such a fast run by the QLDer many were starting to wonder if Cavaye had set a time that would challenge for the win, or did the crop of experienced World Cup riders yet to come down the hill have an ace up their sleeves.

Andrew Cavaye on a scorcher of a run. The finish line table top became a scrub contest as racers tried to save those precious microseconds
A top ten result for Josh Clarke in the Elite Men category
Jackson Frew railing into fourth place aboard his new Commencal.
Andrew stoked and looking comfortable in the hotseat. Hopefully we will be seeing more results like this from him in the near future.

Fourth seed and Ex Trek Factory Racing rider Graeme Mudd would eventually be the one to dethrone Cavaye who managed to stay on the hot seat while the likes of Harry Parsons, Josh Clarke, Jackson Frew, Jake Newell, Joel Willis and the Karver himself Chris Kovarik battled it out for the other podium spots.

Finishing out the podium with a 5th place, Jake Newell
The Karver has still got it. 12th place for the Aussie DH Legend
Focused and off the brakes, Muddy had no issues adjusting to the dry conditions back in Aus after a long stint overseas in the wet. 2nd Place for Graeme Mudd.
Joel Willis was looking fast all weekend. Unfortunately Joel couldn’t backup 2nd place seeding and finished 7th on the day

Racing is not without drama. With only Jack Moir left to run and the timer started, it was announced by the commentary team that Jack had indeed suffered a flat tyre and Graeme ‘Muddy’ Mudd had taken the win with a time of 3:28.991. With celebrations beginning and Mudd accepting the win given the unfortunate circumstances, a cry erupted from the track above the village wear a cloud of dust could be seen along the track. In a flurry of confusion and surprise, Jack Moir appeared out of the forest at blistering pace, sent the finish line tabletop and sprinted to the line while the entire crowd and race village sat there squarely scratching their heads wondering what just happened…

The clock read 3:21.137 ….

Jack had taken the win when everyone thought it was all over, all thanks to great sportsmanship, A MacGyver mechanic, a never say die attitude, and a multi-tool.

“I tightened the axle up through the wedge hole because it wouldn’t fit through the other end and the multi tool got stuck in there and I couldn’t get it out”

A gentleman in defeat, Muddy reminiscing on what was a crazy end to a fantastic weekend of close racing


Womens Elite podium 1st – Danielle Beecroft 2nd – Lisa Mathison 3rd – Tegan Molloy 4th – Katie Lawlor 5th – Kellie Weinert
Men’s Elite podium 1st – Jack Moir 2nd – Graeme Mudd 3rd – Andrew Cavaye 4th – Jackson Frew 5th – Jake Newell

We got in contact with Jack himself after the race to find out what was the story behind the multi-tool with his race mechanic Andy pulling out all the stops to get him down the hill…

“I went up for my race run with Andy and everything was all good. About 20 minutes before my race the wheel started leaking air out the valve, We thought it was just the valve and went to swap that out from the Carbine (Andy’s bike), but then rolled the tire off and realised it was the rim tape slightly peeling off. We tried to run the Carbine wheel, but it obviously wouldn’t fit, we pulled the rim tape off the Carbine and tried putting it around the edge of the rim where the rim tape was peeling off but it didn’t work as it wouldn’t stick properly with all the sealant. Then with about 5 minutes to go Joel went into the gate, I still had no tire on the bike, so he told Kingy (Ed: the commentator) that I probably wasn’t racing as my tire was flat. We then realised that Andy had a tube in his back wheel, so we changed that with just a multi tool, I tightened the axle up through the wedge hole because it wouldn’t fit through the other end and the multi tool got stuck in there and I couldn’t get it out. So I just sprinted through the gate with that hanging out of the axle, sealant all over my disc and 40 psi in the rear.”

Jack Moir and his race winning bike

Full results here:

Words and Photos: Sam Routledge