If ever there was a race to look back on in 15 years and fill your soul with love for the DH world cup, then this was it.
With 19 wins to his name, Greg Minnaar not only further cemented his status as the greatest racer of all time, he further proved what we keep saying – This is the rider with strongest head game in the field and a humble champion to boot.
Minnaarr’s 3.357 winning margin over Aaron Gwin was due to his sublime ability to manufacture incredible average speeds out of the unfriendliest of terrain. It is of note that this was also the second largest winning margin at this venue ever – and out of the top 5 biggest margins, Greg has 3. At the finish arena Andy Kyffin suumed it up perfectly
The podium was lit up by the arrival of Adam Brayton – who marked his 10 year anniversary race at Fort William with a stunning fourth place ride. Brayton’s first World Cup here was in 206 where he placed 58th. He has been beset by injuries over the last few years but looking fit strong, and healthy – Brayton is surely going to start reaping the rewards of his dedication.
The Female race was an expected result but the margin of victory was unexpected – and was four times more than Greg’s winning margin. Atherton looks more capable each race and is lifting the level in the female category to a level never seen before. Tracey Hannah took a deserved 2nd place at 12.049 seconds back followed by Manon Carpenter who, for the second year running, crashed in front of her home crowd.
Lastly, this race not only honoured its own traditions for excellence but honoured the life of Stevie Smith, in an emotional and powerful tribute to the Canadian rider. You’ll be in our memory forever Steve.
For all the in depth action, with stunning photography from Zach Faulkner, Ian Linton and Tommy Wilkinson, read on.
With big crowds present, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype. Staying calm is key.
5th place today for Junior Elliot Heap. The young Brit is start to show great promise with his results – and it’s 15 years since his boss ” No Wage Page” got his 10th place here at Fort William
It was a mixed bag for Matt Walker, here in Scotland. Riding with a broken knuckle, he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to ride. After a solid Qualifier, and looking like lightning on track, he was favoured to win…until he got a flat. The young Junior is composed though, and has a bright future in racing.
The Aussie ripper, Jackson Frew, looked at home on the fast and wild track this weekend. That appearance translated into results as it were, with a 3rd place in Junior men.
The quiet Frenchman, Gaetan Vige, blitzed into 2nd in Junior men today.
Finn Iles is on fire at the moment. He missed Cairns after a minor injury, but he is back and reminding everyone why #letfinnin happened, and he’s just getting wamed up. 1st place by 3.53 seconds.
Morgane Charre has the speed and skill to be on the podium box, she just needs to uncork a bit more! 5th place, and still charging.
What a weekend for Katy Curd! Looking like a whole new rider, she was executing her lines with precision, riding flat-out, and scrubbing. A well-deserved 4th in Elite Women!
The hot seat is a nerve racking zone with many contributing factors. Katy Curd looks on nervously.
A crash in her race run meant Manon Carpenter had a lot of work to do on track with only the motorway left to regain any time, but she rallied hard and still found 3rd place. She would not have won even without the crash, but she might have edged nearer to Rachel….
Tracey Hannah is on roll, back-to-back 2nd places! Her podium tribute to Stevie Smith was a touching one as well.
When we start seeing 2nd place finises, back-to-back, we know not to call them a fluke – 2nd place and crushing it.
Danny Hart Fan Club!
Early morning practice and while many doubting Brayton’s ability to stay calm under fire, he was out Swingin with the best of them. Swingin his bike, that is.
This weekend had a big undertone of it being Steve Peat’s last World Cup race at Fort William. He had a bar set up in the pits, a full custom kit and bike, and after awards, was bequethed a special gift. In the midst of all of the fanfare, he still had time to race, place 29th, and do it in style.
2nd at the first split, Loris Vergier was absolutely flying this weekend. He lost a bit of time later in his run though; 19th when the dust settled. Tommy is calling a podium this year – at the least….
Local destroyer, Kenta Gallagher actually won here in 2014 at the Scottish SDA race. He finished 17th today in Elite men. That’s some serious progress!
Martin Maes took a big digger – a very big digger….
And so did George Brannigan….
Mick Hannah can do well here at Ft. Bill, having finished 5th here twice (’10/’13), so he might have been looking to finish a little higher than 23rd – but he was hauling the mail all week, and is a real podium threat for Leogang.
11th place this weekend for Brook MacDonald. Plagued by flat tyres, we reckon that for finals he took things down a notch to make sure he just got down; he was certainly on pace to be jabbing at the top!
Fort Bill is a long and unforgiving track, so it only makes sense to chill out and take a nap approaching the Motorway jumps. Florent Payet, 12th.
Because we care Eddie, we care.
Eddie Masters is seen here optimising his aero capabilities. Unfortuntely, in his race run he’d have a couple off-track excursions, sending him down the list into 77th. He’s not phased though.
Connor Fearon had a break out year in 2015, finishing in 2nd at the now-legendary Leogang race. In 2016 he has clearly found form and is becoming a regular contender at the top. 10th.
It’s good to see Remi Thirion back and riding like his old self after an injury-riddled 2015. 9th here in Sunny Scotland.
What an impressive ride from Laurie Greenland! The last protected rider, and a first-year Elite, he is absolutely smashing it at the moment. 8th on the day!
Grounds keeper Willy looking relaxed, calm and at home here in the Fort. 7th place and potential to go further.
Greg Williamson stretching out to try and trim off as many tenths as possible. Greg had been doing some GPS testing up here earlier in the season and had worked out ( with the help of Morroco Media ) that going round the Visit Scotland jump was actually faster than jumping it. Greg is stylish as well as methodical. In front of his home crowd he rode to a 7th. There’s more to come.
Luca Shaw has found the recipe for success with his smooth and aggressive riding. He has thus far improved his results by around half at each race this year (21/13/6), so half of 6th at Leogang seems very possible.
The 2014 winner here at Ft. Bill, Troy Brosnan was looking for #1 again this weekend. He managed 5th, but he did have the fastest speed trap at 61.898kph! His power to weight ratio is incredible.
There is loud, and then there is the volume of insanity that was exploding up and out of the finishing arena during Adam Brayton’s run. 21st at the first split, but three at #2-#4, if he had a slight more tidy first split, he’d have beated both Gwin and Hart for 2nd place, as he was only .689 seconds slower than Gwin! 4th place is still a mega result, and we couldn’t be happier for the fastest fisherman on a bike!
Tension in the hot seat for Brayton! #wheresthe3G
Danny Hart had a fantastic weekend at Fort Bill. Some might see 3rd place as underachieving – It’s true he looked a little tight during his run, but he can be proud. He did nothing wrong – Minnaar just went faster.
Aaron Gwin was trying his hardest to make up time at the bottom, scrubbing aggressively to the line – he just couldn’t quite match the mad pace of Greg. 2nd place is normally a mint result, but having won here twice before Gwin was certainly looking to win.
Going into the Hotseat early doors, Greg Minnaar took a well deserved swig from his old mate and fellow legend Peaty. Two behemoths of DH.
It just wasn’t to be for Gee, seen here swingin early doors. A big crash sent him down hard and he may now miss Leogang.
We keep saying it – The strongest head game of anyone in DH.
Six wins at Ft Bill; That is a pretty incredible feat. Greg Minnaar extended his all-time wins, and reminded us that he isn’t slowing down any time soon.
We’d like to thank all the riders , amazing supporters, Mike Jardine, Dan and Toby and everyone who tuned into this race. It was truly brilliant and a fitting tribute to Stevie.