Saturday was Race Day USA style! The Sea Otter Dual Slalom is a firm favourite with the Sea Otter crowd who didn’t disappoint in their wild and noisy support for the GT Factory Racing team.
For this very tight and technical event the team chose GT Distortions, a bike they all love riding for the sheer fun of it. Conditions were dry and dusty so for the tyres the team chose Continental’s Rubber Queen on the front (for the grip) and Mountain King on the back (for faster rolling).
Practice was only 2 hours so riders needed to learn the track quickly.
After that came qualifying runs, one in the blue gate and one in red. Times are added together and the top 32 riders go through to the finals.
Rach sailed through in the Women’s competition.
In the Men’s qualifying Gee finished 12th but Marc Beaumont just couldn’t get into the groove, and in a field stacked with most of the top World Cup riders he didn’t make the cut.
In Finals Rach had a blast, smashing down run after run, entertaining the crowd and taking all comers bar Jill Kintner who was on blazing form taking both the Slalom and DH events.
After the race Rachel was still on a high “That was rad. The crowd here make it such fun, I’m well happy with 2nd, Jill Kintner is a shredder!”
In the first round of the men’s race Gee beat Bernard Kerr in the first round comfortably but the second round was harder. Gee made a small mistake and couldn’t catch super quick junior rider Luca Shaw then in his second run he made a bigger mistake on of the corners leaving himself no way to catch the other rider.
Gee said “We had fun. The course was awesome and the fans were crazy!”
For Sunday’s Downhill race Rachel took a heavy crash in practice and was forced to sit out. Marc and Gee faced a diverse field with all sorts of bikes on the track, from full DH bikes through Enduro 650b to race 29ers.
The team chose to ride their new DH bikes. Head technician Pete Michaliszyn explained “We knew that on this flat course it would be hard to beat the bigger wheeled guys but at this stage of our season it was important for us to spend time on the new DH bike rather than pin everything on a top spot.”
Gee and Marc looked strong in practice. There was no seeding/qualifying run which made judging speeds more difficult so the team strategy for finals was “Flat out!”
Marc had a small technical issue which caused him a few problems in his run, he said “ Fair to say the Sea Otter DH is a different beast to what we are used to at home… times were really tight so if you make any mistakes it costs you dearly!!”
Gee put in a really good run, finishing 12th – less than 3 seconds behind the winner.
The team will now travel home for more training before taking on Round 2 of the BDS at Fort William in May.
Thanks to Fraser Britton for all photos.