Over the last number of years CRC/Nukeproof Ireland rider Ben Kennedy has become one of the most promising young riders in the UK and Ireland. As the first Irish rider since Jamie Popham to win the British Downhill Series (2011), Ben also picked up the Irish National Championship title in the same year.
With his 2013 season kicking off with a 2nd place finish at the opening round of the IDMS in Mallow, Cork this promising Dublin based rider knows he can do better this season. We catch up with Ben to chat about his new team, new bike and 2013 plans
Ben welcome to the Chain Reaction Cycles family. You’ve had a good start to the season taking a second at the IDMS RD1 in Mallow, Cork. How was the race for you?
Thanks guys, I can’t thank you enough giving me such great support this season. The first round went well, It was a steady enough start to the season so I am quite happy. Saturdays practice went very well, the weather was beautiful and the track was riding amazing in the dry. Unfortunately the weather didn't hold for race runs on Sunday but the track held up well and was still riding great in the wet.
My seeding run was fairly steady, my hands froze up in my run and I was unable to shift gears but still managed to come down 5 seconds ahead of 2nd place. For my race run I felt I wasn't pushing hard enough in the forests as It was quite wet and I just wanted to stay upright. It was a steady enough start to the season and I’m really looking forward to the next round at the new MountainBikeNI.com trails in Rostrevor in May.
Last year “Team Nukeproof” had a good season with Greg Williamson picking up some great results in particular. As the youngest member of the team do the other guys push you on? Or is it a case that you’re faster than them!
I would love to be saying that it is the case that I’m faster than them but that's not so yet – but I do give them a pretty good run for their money on a good day!. I’m very fortunate to be a part of a team that has two other strong riders. It’s great having Kipper (Chris McGlinchey) and Dan to ride with at the races. They have pushed me on over the last few years as I try to keep up with them and follow their (sometimes) crazy lines!
You’re pretty familiar with the Nukeproof platform as you rode a SCALP last season – how’s the new PULSE getting on?
The Scalp was a great bike; I really liked it and had two of my best seasons on=board that bike. This year Nukeproof have completely stepped it up to a new level bringing out the PULSE. It not only looks amazing – but it rides rides even better. I’m looking forward to flashing my Pulse around the pits in the upcoming races this season
The big announcement for Chain Reaction Cycles this season was undoubtedly the signing of Sam Hill. How do you feel to be riding alongside Sam as a fellow CRC athlete?
It’s every kid’s dream to be riding alongside someone as legendary as Sam – and for me to actually be doing it is something I have dreamed about since I started racing. I’m in good company and if the Nukeproof Pulse is the bike of choice for someone as successful as Sam that’s all I can ask for!
Despite being based in Ireland, the British Downhill Champs has been a big part of your race calendar now for a few years – especially as you took the overall title in 2011. How have preparations gone for this year? Do you think you can reclaim the title this year?
I really enjoy the BDS as the standard of racing is really high and it’s a really well organised batch of races. The bigger and faster tracks in the UK suit my riding style and my plan for 2013 is definitely to hunt down that title again. My winter was pretty solid as I managed to keep my training at a high level and got plenty of time on the bike so I feel like I’m in the right place. Unfortunately I had to miss the first round last weekend so that means I’ll have to give it everything I have for the rest of the races I will be doing.
You can follow Ben and the rest of CRC Nukeproof Ireland over on Facebook