Posted by Editoress on 06/14/04
NORBA #2 DH Snowshoe, WV
Courtesy 23 Degrees Sports
Greg Minnaar won his first ever NORBA race today at the 2nd round of the famous US Series in conditions that during this morning's qualifier, were some of the toughest seen for some time. After a large amount of rain in the West Virginian Mountains over the past week, the forest sections of this long course became extremely thick with mud, and in the women's qualifier some riders even had to walk their bikes in sections.
One of the added advantages for the Team G Cross riders in these muddy conditions is that due to the gearbox, or internal transmission, on the bike the riders had no concerns about having a rear derailleur choked with mud. The frame design also meant less mud stuck to the bike and this ensured that both riders had less chances of mechanical issues in today's conditions. Training at a NORBA race is quite different to a World Cup because there is only 7 hours of training compared to 16 at World Cups, so both riders really had to get quality training runs in, well before today's race.
In the qualifier both Greg and his 17 year old team mate Cyrille Kurtz of France rode strong, chasing important points. Greg qualified a massive 15 seconds ahead of second place, with a 5m 36.3secs, even though he crashed early and went off course and finished the race with his SDG seat twisted to one side. Cyrille rode at 100% and finished an excellent 5th place. But both riders knew though that some of the top riders had not ridden at 100% in the qualifier.
In the final Greg was hoping to get under 5m 30secs and chase his first ever NORBA career win. He won the NORBA Series last year through consistency, but after Round 1 this year, where he was given 8th place, the objective today was to chase points in the overall. For Cyrille, the objective was to ride a solid final for a top ten result. After having a crash in Fort William last week in the final, following a strong semi final today was about consolidation and not crashing by pushing too hard.
The final went to plan for both riders, with Cyrille taking 12 seconds of his qualifying time to finish an excellent 6th place, and Greg taking 14 seconds off his time to amaze the crowd with his 7 second win over John Kirkcaldie (NZL). Tire choice was critical in the finals as the sun was drying up the open sections of the course, but the forest section remained very muddy. Greg rode his Maxxis Wet Scream 2.2 tires, and Cyrille opted for the Maxxis Swamp Thing 2.5's. Since the top 6 riders in the race all used Maxxis tires, it seemed to be the tire brand of the day.
Greg Minnaar (Winner) "I had a big scare in the qualifying race when I crashed just after the start, so I was a little more cautious than normal at the beginning of the final, but I really went hard in the bottom half. This is a super tough course on both bikes and riders, and I'm just really thrilled to have won a NORBA Downhill finally, and the RN01 bike worked brilliantly. The fans were great, all shouting my name on the course, that's a first for me here in the USA, so a big thanks to them for that."
Cyrille Kurtz (6th-place finisher) "I am just so happy. I never thought I could finish top 10 in a NORBA in my second race here. I was so tired after my qualifier I was worried I would not be strong enough for the final, but I just tried to stay smooth and keep my energy for the last half of the course. There were sections on this course where you nearly stopped completely because of the mud, and I was thinking I was no good, but then I was surprised by my time. I guess everyone was finding it tough."
Team Director Martin Whiteley "This a great result for the team. We are really getting into our stride now. The mechanics and engineers did a superb job on the bikes this weekend in truly difficult conditions, and of course the riders rode a brilliant set of races. We are here at this race instead of the World Cup in France because Greg and the team believe that if you own a title, you should defend it, and as the 2003 NORBA DH Champion, this is an important objective for Greg this year. The objective for today therefore was to chase hard for points in Greg's case, get him back into contention for the series lead, and for Cyrille to build on his 18th from Big Bear and shoot for a top 10. Both guys did us proud."
The team now leaves for Mount Snow, Vermont, for Round 3 of the NORBA DH Series. There are six races in total and all count for the overall points.
1. Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda) 5: 36.3
2. John Kirkcaldie (Team Maxxis USA) 5: 51:9
3. Dustin Adams (Team Giant Pearl Izumi) 5:55.6
4. Colin Bailey (Team Maxxis USA) 5:57:4
5. Cyrille Kurtz (Team G Cross Honda) 6:00.4
1. Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda) 4:10.24
2. John Kirkcaldie (Team Maxxis USA 4 :13.60
3. Colin Bailey (Team Maxxis USA) 4:14.13
4. Bryn Atkinson (Ironhorse/Madcatz) 4:14.17
5. Jared Graves (Yeti Cycles) 4:14.84
6. Cyrille Kurtz (Team G Cross Honda) 4:16.62
7. Andrew Neethling (Honda Turner) 4:17.12
8. Ben Cory (Big Crank Racing/Tioga) 4:19.16
9. Rich Houseman (Foes Racing/Funn) 4:20.47
10 . Cody Warren (Team Haro-adidas) 4:20.76
Overall Standings after Round 2
1. John Kirkcaldie (Team Maxxis USA) 358
2. Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda) 349
3. Eric Carter (Mongoose/Hyundai) 315
4. Jared Graves (Yeti Cycles) 314
5. Bryn Atkinson (Ironhorse/Madcatz) 307
6. David Klassenvanoorschot (Intense/Fox) 291
7. Joel Panozzo (Progressive/Intense) 272
8. Rich Houseman (Foes Racing/Funn) 271
9. Colin Bailey Team (Maxxis USA) 265
10. Ben Cory (Big Crank Racing/Tioga) 256
11. Cyrille Kurtz Team G Cross Honda) 255
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