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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Full results here: www.vola-racing.com/msportspro/huntermtb/
Words and Photos: Sam Routledge