In an electric day of racing GT Factory Racing’s Gee and Rachel Atherton smashed their respective qualifying runs, Rachel was a full 6 seconds clear of the field while Gee beat a back in form Aaron Gwin by 1.36 seconds and 3rd place Steve Smith by 2.04 seconds.
Taylor Vernon took it nice and easy aboard his new GT Fury to qualify in 9th – 9 seconds adrift of Phil Atwill and Fort William’s Junior winner Noel Niederberger.
Taylor said “I have never seen anything like this track before but the guys have been awesome helping me find the best lines! I promised ‘em I wouldn’t go crazy out there today, I think I’ve been giving Polish Pete some headaches!”
Team-mate Marc Beaumont came across the line in 14th – about 10 seconds back from Gee but some faster men were still to go – leaving him 21st in the field by the final reckoning. Marc said “A bit of an untidy run today, I’ve got a bit to do for Sunday.”
The forecasted rain held off today which meant that the sun was hot and the course was really cutting up.
In the Women’s Elite there weren’t many surprises amongst the fastest women with the top 6 qualifiers here looking very much like a reshuffled pack of the top seven in last weekend’s Fort William Finals, only Miriam Nicole was missing with a qualifying place of 13th today. Rachel’s GB Team-mate Manon Carpenter put in a smooth run to qualify 3rd with 4.02.444, four seconds shy of Ragot’s 3.58.054 but once again nobody touched Rachel who led at every split to post an amazing 3.51.866 setting the twittersphere on fire once again
Rachel said “It felt a bit untidy again to be honest, but it didn’t translate to the time so I’m happy. It’s so good to be back in Val di Sole.”
In the Men’s Elite Gee put in another fast and smooth run while Aaron Gwin rocketed back to form with a nail-biting run of 3.16.837. At the first split he was the only man on the course to go faster than Gee – by 0.3 secs but he lost time on the mid section (at the 2nd split he was 18th fastest overall) only to pull it back at the bottom, finishing second by 1.3 seconds.
Gee said “It’s rough out there to be sure. Because it’s so loamy every run is completely different, I’m not taking anything for granted. I am pleased with today, now I’m going to go and cool down.”
Finals will take place on Sunday, tune into www.redbull.com/bike at 14.15 GMT for all of the action.
1st Phil Atwill 3.28.095
2nd Noel Neiderberger Gstadd- Scott 3.28.668
3rd Innes Graham MS Mondraker 3.32.742
9th Taylor Vernon GT Factory Racing 3.37.33
1st Rachel Atherton GT Factory Racing 3.51.866
2nd Emmeline Ragot Lapierre Gravity Republic 3.58.054.
3rd Manon Carpenter Madison Saracen 4.02.444
1st Gee Atherton GT Factory Racing team 3.15.425
2nd Aaron Gwin Specialized 3.16.837
3rd Steve Smith DeVinci Global Racing 3.17.482