With a short break between Enduro World Series races, Team CRC Mavic riders Elliott Heap and Kelan Grant took the chance headed to Fort William, Scotland, to race the 4X and Downhill World Cup.
Team Manager Nigel Page brings us this report from an electrifying weekend at the Fort:
Even though the team is not racing or focussing on downhill this season, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go and race the iconic Fort William round of the UCI Downhill World Cup at the weekend in front of the amazing crowd.
As ever it was an epic event with an amazing atmosphere, with a passionate crowd who really got behind the best downhill riders in the world – the sun even came out for the finals!
Whilst Sam Hill is back in Australia preparing for the next round of the EWS, Elliott Heap and Kelan Grant decided to give the Downhill World Cup a go for the team.
Elliott hasn’t ridden his downhill bike since last year and Kelan doesn’t even have one, so it wasn’t going to be that easy competing against the world’s best downhill riders, but these boys don’t care.
We built up the Nukeproof Pulse 29er prototype for Kelan and Elliott dusted off his 275 Pulse which he last raced at Val Di Sole in 2017, where he finished in the top-25 before focussing on enduro racing for 2018. Thanks to SRAM and RockShox for getting us set up with the brand new awesome Boxxer DH forks for their bikes and also to Mavic for the downhill wheels. Really appreciate the great support guys 🙂
On top of this Elliott decided to enter the round of the World 4X Pro tour (which always hold a round at the Fort William WC) on his Mega Enduro bike. Elliott has never even raced a 4X event before!
This turned out to be the highlight of the weekend for me. Not since the glory days of 4X when all the big stars raced have I seen more exciting racing. Elliott won the crowd with his really impressive riding skills and moves coming from behind every lap, making passes on insides of corners where no-one else was riding and scrubbing and whipping jumps like Bubba Stewart in MX racing!
Elliott made it all the way through to the semi-finals but drew the much tougher semi-final so he didn’t get through that round, but made the small final for the race for the last podium position. By this time the heavens opened and the track turned to ice. Elliott was in second place and went for his signature inside line move on turn two but unfortunately his front wheel washed out in the mud and then he went down in the next corner battling and unfortunately hurt his shoulder pretty badly.
Amazing racing Elliott and it just shows if you have the skills you can ride any bike and maybe if 4X riders all swapped to enduro/trail bikes the industry would back this amazing discipline once again? Thanks Elliott for the entertainment you are a superstar!
This year in the Downhill World Cup (where usually it’s the top 80 men that qualify for Sunday’s finals), it has been cut to just the fastest 60 in the Elite men’s category, which makes it even harder to make it into the big show on Sunday.
Kelan was still getting to grips with the DH bike and doing his first DH race in a while by the time qualifying came along and just to make things worse it started raining hard after the fastest men had gone down, so making it even tougher for the lower ranked riders to qualify. Kelan didn’t push hard enough, in his own words, and was kicking himself that he was only five seconds off qualifying which I think was an amazing ride considering he was racing against the fastest DH racers in the world. Good effort mate.
Elliott made it through to the finals but unfortunately couldn’t push it in the finals as his shoulder was just too weak. Thanks to Marty for taping him up and Elliott still managed to throw the biggest whips for the crowd on the final big jumps.
As usual the finals were super-exciting and a big congratulations to Amaury Pierron for taking his first Elite men’s win and Tahnee Seagrave for smashing the women’s field and also a massive congrats to young Reece Wilson from Scotland running the number 81 plate for fourth place in the Elite men’s race. Stoked for him!
Thanks to the Fort William fans, Rob and Ewan for their work this week and all our sponsors for the support. It was great being back at a WC DH event and seeing some great friends.
[All images by Fraser Britton]