Fort William British Downhill Series is a popular one for racers and things are no different for us here at Wideopen.
words by Dave Konstanz, photos by Ian Lean
The official unofficial practice session started on Friday with both of Team Wideopen’s Youth riders Morgan Tyrrell and Chris Cumming keen as mustard to get on track and see what had been set up by the BDS team. With Kye Forte away building a dirt jump project for Red Bull and Matt Jones it was all about the young guns this weekend.
The guys discovered a track that had seen some work. Some bits had been smoothed out a little and the jumps had been given a face lift. With a heap of dry days running up to the race the track was fast, loose, dusty and covered in marble rocks. It was high speed and wild!
The extra day of practice meant that they were able to try different settings on their Nukeproof Pulse bikes without the risk of hindering valuable practice time on track. Morgan tested out a custom semi-slick tyre set up on his Conti’s, prepped up by his mechanic Dru. He was blown away by the difference that it made on the fast rolling track. It’s rare you can run something like that in the UK so we made the most of it whilst we could!
Chris was looked after all weekend by Chaz Curry, who worked for MS Mondraker last year. His last trip to Fort William had resulted in Laurie Greenland netting his first elite top 10 of the world cup season. Chris has a few trips up to Fort William to go before he’s in elite, but he made the most of Chaz’s advice and got stuck into going fast all weekend. It’s crazy to think that Chris has raced at Fort William 7 times and is only a first year youth!
Official official practice kicked off on Saturday and the track was largely unchanged minus the lip on the bridge jump at the top of the motorway section. Apparently there was a risk of getting the jump wrong and ending up in the bushes 20ft below….
A big day of riding on Friday didn’t stop the guys getting on track early. A bit of rain in the night had dampened the dust down and just made the track even better. Lot of grins and lots of runs later the guys were happy they’d done what they needed to do. Both Morgan and Chris got four solid runs in, with Morgan managing to get a 5:26 down – just 10 seconds slower than his race run the next day.
Sunday, race day.
All practice had come down to this. With a couple of practice runs on Sunday Morning under their belts, the lads were keen for qualifying.
Setting off just one minute after each other based on their series standings, both lads were on track at the same time, with Chris finishing in 9th spot and Morgan smashing it into 4th. The depth of the field in youth is crazy, these guys are pinned and putting down some serious times – the fastest youth rider would have qualified 22nd in Elite!
Chris set off first and had a brief spell in the hot seat. He ended up in 8th, which wasn’t the success that he was hoping for off the back of his win at the IXS in Kranska Gora – he said that he had ridden a bit safe and reserved. Onwards and upwards lad!
Morgan had qualified 4th and ultimately that is where he ended up in his race run too. He didn’t quite have the run that he was hoping for, but he kept it rubber side down and brought home a podium spot which is no mean feat, particularly on a World Cup track.
With Fort William done, Chris heads over to Germany for the IXS and Morg sets his sights on the MIJ race this weekend at Fort William. Next stop after that is the British Downhill Series at Bala.