Team CRC Mavic rider Sam Hill competed at the Downhill World Champs in Cairns, Australia, over the weekend, finishing an incredible sixth place on his Nukeproof Mega enduro race bike.
Team Manager Nigel Page braved the Australian critters to bring us this race report:
Team CRC/Mavic rider Sam Hill decided to swap disciplines from downhill to enduro this year after competing in some of the Enduro World Series rounds in 2016. Sam’s been riding amazingly well in his first full season at the Enduro World Series where he is currently ranked first with one round to go later this month.
Sam’s Scottish target for Worlds qualification
With the Downhill World Championships being held in his home country of Australia, Sam decided he wanted to try and qualify for the Australian team racing just one downhill race this season at the second round of the UCI DH World Cup in Fort William, Scotland. This was the first time Sam had ridden a downhill bike in over a year and he placed 18th which ended up good enough to make the Australian team.
The Cairns track
The track in Cairns is not on a huge mountain like a lot of the other World Cup venues but still has some really rough sections, is super high speed in other parts and has some big jumps. They last held the World Championships here in 1996 and the track is basically the same layout but with a few added features, some big jumps and a tricky rock garden.
Surprisingly (to the rest of the world), Sam decided he wanted to ride his Nukeproof Mega 275C enduro bike which he races the Enduro World series on, based on the fact that this is the bike he rides all the time and felt it was good enough for him to handle the downhill track.
Nukeproof, along with the help of Refurbmybike, did an amazing job of getting Sam a custom painted frame, Monster and 100% a super cool helmet and Mavic taking care of the custom coloured Aussie kit. Sam was looking fast and trick before he even got on the track!
It turned out Sam wasn’t wrong and from the first day of practice he looked super-fast and comfortable on his enduro bike, even hitting the huge jump ‘Mick’s Drop’ before the whoop section of the track.
As Sam had only competed in one downhill race this season, he was given a number 75 ranking which put him first off in the race.
They had a timed training session a few days before the race where Sam placed 12th but he was fourth and fifth at the first two splits and just cruised to the finish, so we knew Sam had a good chance of a great result.
Race day nerves
Sam’s nerves were pretty high come race day but he knew he was riding great and it seemed like the whole world was behind the downhill legend racing his enduro bike in possibly his last ever Downhill World Championships, which he has won three times at senior/elite level and twice as a junior.
Sam put down an amazing run, pushing his Nukeproof Mega to the absolute limit and crossed the line with a 3.32 time just a couple of seconds off his goal to go under a 3.30 but with a strong headwind when Sam came down for the final last 20 second flat sprint to the finish line.
This put Sam in the Hot Seat for nearly the remainder of the race and in the end his time was good enough for sixth place! What an achievement for a man that has only done one other downhill race this season and racing the world’s best on his enduro bike.
Well done Sam we are super proud of you and your achievements this year.
Frenchman Loic Bruni ended up being crowned World Champion for the second time in his career narrowly beating Cairns’ home town hero Mick Hannah by just 0.3 of a second and 2017 UCI World Cup champion Aaron Gwin in third.
More to come…
Thanks to everyone involved in making all the custom kit ready for Sam and for everything so far this season, we just have one more very important race to go this year, the EWS finals in Finale Ligure, Italy, in a few weeks’ time.
Cheers from the land of dangerous critters.
[All images by Fraser Britton]