Wednesday 27 April 2016

Race Report: 2016 World Cup Round 2, Cairns, Australia, 23nd-24th April 2016

Rachel Atherton takes the win by 7 seconds

Celebrations for the unstoppable Rachel but disappointment for Gee Atherton in 22nd and Taylor Vernon DNS

Mixed emotions for the Trek Factory Racing Downhill team this weekend with awesome Rachel taking her 8th consecutive World Cup win but Gee was one of several big names who just couldn’t find their flow this weekend, finishing 22nd.
Taylor crashed out in practice; instead of starting his Finals race in his best-ever position he was hospitalised, being X-rayed for possible fractures to his arm and shoulder. He’s been given the all-clear and is back with the team - heal up soon, Tay!

Women’s Elite

The weather in Cairns has been uncertain all week, producing chaos in yesterday’s Qualification Race where every woman in the race crashed out. At one point Rachel tweeted that she was running down the hill after her bike! 

But to the riders’ huge relief, Finals day dawned sunny and dry. The track was running fast, but even in the drier conditions the “rock garden”, a huge obstacle near the top of the course, was catching out a lot of riders, including fourth seed, Emilie Siegenthaler. But not so the 3rd qualifier, local rider Tracey Hannah who lives just 10 minutes from here and sailed through the rock garden in exemplary fashion to take the hot seat by 6 seconds.
Only the UK’s Manon Carpenter and Rachel Atherton were left on course. Manon was slower into the rock garden and couldn’t quite make up the time on Tracey crossing the line into 2nd place. 

Rachel won here in 2014 at the last Cairns World Cup. The last woman on course carried good speed through the rock garden then drove hard up the jumps to show an advantage of 2.8 seconds at split 1, extended to over 5 secs by split 2. Rachel is known for her physical power so her relentless pedal to the finish surprised no-one - she crossed the line over 7 seconds clear of the field.

After the race an exhausted Rachel said: “That final pedal was a killer! I heard the commentator say 7.5 seconds down and I was really disappointed, I’d felt like I had a good run, I panicked! I’m glad I got that wrong, and of course I’m ecstatic to win but at the same time there’s a part of me that’s gutted for Tracey – I know how emotional it is to win on your home turf and she rode a great race.”

Women’s Elite Finals Results

1 Rachel Atherton     Trek Factory Racing DH                              3.48.56
2 Tracey Hannah       Polygon UR                                                 3:55.664 +7.09
3 Manon Carpenter   Madison Saracen Factory Team                  3.58.37 +9.8
4 Tahnee Seagrave   Transition Factory Racing/FMD                   4.01.58 +13.02

Rachel extends her lead in the UCI Women’s Downhill standings with 490 points.  She is 135 points clear of fellow Brits Tahnee Seagrave (355 points) and Manon (350 points).

Men’s Elite

In the Men’s race, Taylor Vernon couldn’t start. He said: “I’m absolutely gutted, a stupid crash on my 2nd practice run of the day, but thankfully nothing’s broken so I’m hoping to be back on track for Fort William. I’m gonna have some bruises tonight!”

Australian (and eventual 5th place finisher) Josh Button was still in the hot seat when 10th qualifier Gee Atherton came on course. Last time Gee rode this course in 2014 he took the win so there was a lot of excitement in the crowd as he came on course. What could he do in these very different conditions?

Gee started strongly. He looked very smooth and fast across the rock garden but was perhaps a bit wide as he came into the jumps, just 0.48 back from Button at the second split. But a small mistake in the roots of the central section put him 1.8 back by split 3. Gee is known as one fittest riders on the circuit so should have taken the bottom section of the course in his stride but today he couldn’t pull back any time and crossed the line in 14th – enough for an eventual 22nd.

No-one could get near Josh Button until the top 4 qualifiers, Loic Bruni, Aaron Gwin, Troy Brosnan and Mick Hannah, were on course. Bruni was first up. The Frenchman put in a scorching run, keeping it low over the jumps and going 4 seconds up by the 2nd split to take the hot seat by almost 4 seconds. Would it be enough for his first ever World Cup win?

Third qualifier Aaron Gwin crossed into 2nd, almost 3 seconds back then only the locals were left on course. Mick Hannah had a little mistake out of the gate but was delighted to sprint into 2nd. Could last man down Troy Brosnan catch Loic? Troy  stayed smooth, he was 0.02 back at split 3 and the crowd went crazy, now it was all about the sprint! He crossed the line just 0.49 back – Loic had his first win and it was 3 out of 5 Aussie for the Cairns top 5!

Gee said: “Massive congratulations to Loic, a storming run from him. A terrible day for me - just couldn’t put it together here and I’m gutted for Tay missing his Finals run. News is looking a bit more hopeful from that side though – heal up soon, bro!”

Men’s Elite  Final Results

1 Loic Bruni               Specialized Gravity powered by Sram       3.23.69
2 Troy Brosnan         Specialized Racing                                     3.24.18 + 0.49
3 Mick Hannah           Polygon UR                                               3.24.62 +0.92
4 Aaron Gwin             YT Mob                                                      3.26.64 +2.95
5 Joshua Button                                                                            3.27.48 +3.78
22 Gee Atherton        Trek Factory Racing DH                             3.30.89 +7.89
Taylor Vernon            Trek Factory Racing DH                             DNS

Progress made and lessons learned at Donington Park

Silverline Subaru BMR Racing endured a challenging weekend at Donington Park for Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

With the very small time frame between Brands Hatch and Donington Park, the team was once again realistic about using the opportunity to focus on developing the cars during the weekend to make as much progress as possible with the new Subaru Levorg GT sports tourers.  With the cars having had very little time out on track, each session is being used to learn about the cars to make improvements in a bid to find the right set up to ensure that we move forward to produce the best package possible.

Saturday’s qualifying session looked to be a tricky one with a constant change in weather and subsequent track conditions. Colin Turkington set the quickest time out of the Subaru Levorg drivers setting the 11th fastest overall lap time of 1:14.160 followed by Warren Scott in 16th, James Cole 17th and Jason Plato 18th.

Race 1 saw Warren involved in an incident with Ollie Jackson at Redgate, which fired them both into the gravel. The race came to a dramatic end for the team after it was eventually red-flagged following James’ Subaru Levorg catching fire as one of the fuel ancillary systems failed. James escaped without injury with the assistance of the marshals and fire crew, but unfortunately the car sustained a great deal of damage putting an end to James’ weekend. Colin was once again the quickest driver of the quartet finishing in 10th position and scoring points for the team with Jason just out of the point scoring zone in 17th. Warren was able to return to track after his earlier excursion and ended the race in 25th place. Mat Jackson was handed the win ahead of Josh Cook and Tom Ingram.

Race 2 commenced with the drivers lining up in the positions that they finished the previous race and, with Colin being 10th on the grid, he was in for a chance of another top 10 position. Despite making a great start, unfortunately Colin sustained contact on his right rear causing a puncture and sending him into the gravel.  Warren finished 19th ahead of Jason in 20th. The race was won by Rob Collard with Aron Smith and Gordon Shedden completing the podium.

For Race 3 Warren and Jason both started on row 10 of the grid in 19th and 20th positions with Colin starting all the way down in 27th due to his earlier non-finish. Despite his starting position, Colin progressed through the field from the back of the grid making up an impressive nine places and finishing in 18th place, just behind Jason in 16th. Unfortunately Warren retired from the race upon instruction from his pit crew following the same component failure that was seen on James’ car in race 1. Matt Neal took the honours from Gordon Shedden and Sam Tordoff.

Jason Plato said:Donington proved to be very productive for Silverline Subaru BMR Racing. We continue to gain valuable insight into the development of the team’s Subaru Levorgs. We achieved a great deal this weekend, which will accelerate our performance on track in the coming weeks. We know the areas we need to improve upon and are working flat out to find solutions. 

“I'm still confident that our target of challenging for podiums will arrive before mid-season. 

“Everybody at Silverline Subaru BMR Racing is up for the challenge and is feeling a certain degree of inner calm that success is just around the corner.”

Colin Turkington said:  “We walk away from Donington with a few more grey hairs, but with an abundance of information and a deeper understanding of the Subaru Levorg. Changeable conditions on Saturday provided a new set of challenges, but we coped remarkably well and my confidence with the car is growing all the time. 

“Having only completed a shakedown run with the cars since the last event, I was happy to once again qualify just outside the top 10. I enjoyed a typical BTCC battle in Race 1 and it was pleasing to bring the car home in 10th position and score a few more championship points. An early puncture ruined any chances of advancing in Race 2 but again in Race 3 I was able to show the strengths of the car and progress through the field.  

“It's onwards and upwards from here and I'm already looking forward to getting back in the car at Thruxton. We know there is work to do to close the gap to the front runners, but we have the people, skills and experience to make that happen.”

James Cole said: “I came away from Donington with only positive thoughts about the future with Team BMR and the Subaru Levorg. Despite our little problem on Sunday we are starting to see the cars’ potential - this process just takes time.

“Saturday was a very productive day for the team and me, I enjoyed the mixed conditions of qualifying, and making the decision very early to go from wet tyres to dry tyres on a damp track really showed the cars handling strengths. It filled me with a lot of hope for the coming rounds.

“I’m thankful to walk away with just a few singed hairs after a scary Race 1.”

Warren Scott said:  “We are pleased with the information that we are getting from the cars despite it being a tricky weekend and only two weeks after the launch of the Subaru Levorgs, and I am confident that we are showing signs of real improvement. 

“The general reliability of the cars is very good and the future looks impressive for all of the Silverline Subaru BMR Racing drivers.  We look forward to improving on the issues found to get the cars closer to the front of the grid.”

Alan Cole, Team Manager said:  “We learned some valuable lessons at Donington Park and the team did a great job despite it being a tough weekend.  We will continue to improve the car as much as possible before Thruxton where we meet in just over two weeks’ time.”

Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place at Thruxton, Hampshire, on 7th and 8th May.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Mountain bike legend gearing-up for emotional farewell at Fort William World Cup

Steve Peat joins young riders in Glasgow to launch the UCI’s UK leg of the Mountain Bike World Cup

Former Downhill World Champion and mountain bike legend, Steve Peat, has recently been in Glasgow to launch the Fort William stage of the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, set to be his last competitive appearance at the event.

The fan favourite, known on the circuit as ‘Peaty’, is retiring from World Cup racing at the end of the current downhill season following a career spanning 20 years and including 17 World Cup wins, 52 World Cup podiums and one World Championship.

This year’s Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup and BUFF® 4X Pro Tour will take place over the weekend of 4 and 5 June and promises to be more exciting than ever. Work is underway to add new technical features and jumps to the infamous 2.8km downhill course, while a host of attractions will be on offer to keep fans entertained.

As he prepares for his final World Cup event in front of a home crowd, the 41-year-old rider from Sheffield was joined in Glasgow by up and coming young riders to announce tickets going on sale. He said: “Competing at the Fort William World Cup has always meant a lot to me and it will be an emotional day saying goodbye to the fans and riders for the very last time.

“The atmosphere at the event is the best on the world circuit and it’s always been a proud moment riding in front of a home crowd. Winning at Fort William in 2005 is still up there as one of the best of my career and while I was really disappointed to miss out on last year’s event through injury, I promise to make my last Fort William one to remember.”

200 of the sport’s biggest stars, including 2015 World Champions, British rider Rachel Atherton, and France’s Loic Bruni, will be competing as they race against the clock down the slopes of Anoch Mor.
Alongside the downhill action, famous trials rider and YouTube record breaker Danny MacAskill will also be in attendance over the weekend with his Drop and Roll Street Trials team. The Red Bull athlete will be wowing the crowds with an array of tricks, which has seen the Scotsman build a huge fan base across the world.

Event organiser, Mike Jardine, from Rare Management, said: “The two-day event is a huge celebration in which riders and fans come together in a family friendly atmosphere for the only UK leg on the World Cup circuit.

“We expect this year to be extra special as the mountain bike community says goodbye to one of the true legends of the sport. The atmosphere will be electric and we’re looking forward to giving Peaty a true Fort William send-off.”

Over a quarter of a million fans have descended on Fort William since the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup came to the Highlands 14 years ago, delivering a £30m boost to the Highland economy since 2002.

The event, which is supported by EventScotland and Highland Council, is the third stage on the UCI World Cup Downhill calendar which kicked-off in Lourdes last weekend. It was recently named as the number one mountain biking event to attend in 2016 in a Red Bull Top 10 list. 

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We have supported the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for many years now and are looking forward to the 2016 event as much as ever.

“The event is hugely important for the Highlands and for Scotland as a whole, and we are sure that mountain bike lovers in their thousands are already making travel arrangements for this exhilarating weekend of action, which will include witnessing Steve’s final tilt at the Fort William title.”

Prices remain unchanged from last year’s event, with tickets costing from £14 for adults and £8 for children aged 6 – 17 years old. Family packages are also available starting from £36. For more details on the event and to buy tickets, visit

Rachel Atherton takes the win by 4.5 seconds, Trek Factory Racing DH take top team

Race Report: UCI MTB World Cup 2016 Round 1, Lourdes, France, 9-10 April

It was certainly a dramatic weekend at Lourdes for the start of the 2016 season with a crazy track, an even crazier French crowd and changeable weather contributing to a good few crashes. Rachel bought home the trophy on her first international race for Trek Bikes with Gee finishing 7th (laying the demons of his 2015 ride here to rest) and Taylor in 32nd. It was enough to earn the brand new Trek Factory Racing Team the first “Top team” award of the Series. We’ll be looking to hold on to that one…

Times were surprisingly wide-spaced on this fast track…


Friday’s practice was “nuts” and Saturday’s qualifiers almost equally wild as the slippery track managed to unseat an awful lot of the top riders. Gee took a tumble at the wall during practice but played it safe for a cool and clean run to qualify in 3rd, favourites Greg Minaar (qual. 32nd) and Aaron Gwin (qual. 10th) both crashed out at the top of the fast off-camber section. Local hero Loic Bruni smashed the qualifying field to go 5 seconds clear - would this be his first World Cup win? Trek Factory Racing’s Taylor Vernon played it safe and was well pleased with his 22nd.

Men’s Elite Qualifying Results

1 Loic Bruni                             3.18.07
2 Josh Bryceland                     3.23.74 +5.67
3 Gee Atherton                        3.24.71 +6.64
4 Steve Smith                          3.25.36 +7.28
5 Troy Brosnan                        3.22.67 +8.84

25 Taylor Vernon                      3.33.89 +15.28

In the Women’s qualifying race, it was a British 1, 2, 3 with Tahnee Seagrave taking the win by a 4.5 second margin, despite a crash! As in the Men’s race speculation rose high – would this be Tahnee’s first World Cup win as an Elite rider? Rachel qualified second, having “struggled to get into race mode resulting in a less than 100% run” and Manon Carpenter qualified in 3rd over 8 seconds back from Tahnee.

Women’s Elite Qualifying Results

1 Tahnee Seagrave                    4.09.77
2 Rachel Atherton                      4.13.09 +3.32
3 Manon Carpenter                    4.18.06 +8.29
4 Emilie Siegenthaler                 4.28.81 +19.04
5 Morgan Charre                        4.36.56 +26.7

As the weathermen had predicted Finals day dawned sunny and dry. The track was drying out fast but there were still slippery patches to catch out the unsuspecting, especially during the Women’s race which was first up.

Australian Tracey Hannah was in the hot seat when British Manon Carpenter came on course. Manon kept good speed all the way, she looked smooth and kept it safe, applying the brakes over the finish jump to cross the line into the number 1 spot.

Second-place qualifier Rachel Atherton came on track wearing the rainbow stripes of the reigning World Champion. As soon as she was out of the gate it was obvious that she was riding faster than anyone else in the field. She found a little more speed over the wall but stayed in perfect control, going 6.6 seconds up by the first split. She looked very much in control, stretching her lead to the best part of 10 seconds by split 5. Rachel sent the final jump to cross the line over 10 seconds up. Only Tahnee Seagrave was left on course.

Maybe feeling the pressure a little, Tahnee lost a bit of speed in one of the first turns and was almost 5 seconds back on Rachel by split 2. She rode the bottom part of the course fairly steadily to come into second place.

So Rachel took her 27th World Cup, 10 years after her first World Cup victory in Brazil and it was an awesome 1, 2, 3 for Great Britain!

Rachel said: “The crowd here have been absolutely wild! It was gnarly how hard we had to push it. With the weather and the track changing so much I wasn’t sure how much I could push! I knew that Tahnee had smoked us in qualis, even with a crash so it was always going to be all or nothing, crash or win! 

Women’s Elite Finals Results

1 Rachel Atherton                     3.50.38
2 Tahnee Seagrave                    3.54.55 +4.47
3 Manon Carpenter                    4.00.64 +10.25
4 Tracey Hannah                       4.03.97 +13.59
5 Emilie Siegenthaler                 4.12.19 +21.8

In the Men’s race, Taylor Vernon was a casualty of the unpredictable conditions. His suspension set-up proved too soft for the drying track but his eventual 32nd is his second best World Cup result to date so Team Director Dan Brown was not down-hearted. Taylor said: “I regret not upping my spring rate, it was way too soft. I’m disappointed not to match my quali result but I’ve learnt from it.”

Aaron Gwin had qualified in 10th. He looked assured on his new bike from YT from the second he left the gate, 1.1 seconds up by the first split. He continued to stretch this advantage with an insanely fast mid-section leaving the remaining 9 riders to go flat out or go home.  Fourth-place qualifier Steve Smith got closest with a smoking run that saw him cross the line 2.4 seconds back, enough for 2nd place. Then Gee was on course. Uncharacteristically for him, he looked to be on the brakes as he came down the wall (scene of his practice crash) losing him a little time. After the race he said: “I was pleased enough with my run but not with 7th place. I took it a little too easy in places today which cost me.”

Second-placed qualifier Josh Bryceland edged Gee down as a spot as he crossed in 6th then only Loic Bruni was left on course. Loic was on fire, already a second up by split 1, making a mistake and dragging a foot but immediately getting back the time! He set a blistering pace and looked certain to take his first World Cup victory on home soil but a crash in the woods lost enough time to push him back into 14th place. Aaron Gwin was the winner.

Men’s Elite Final Results

1 Aaron Gwin                             3.09.13
2 Stevie Smith                            3.11.60 +2.47
3 Danny Hart                              3.11.81 +2.68
4 Troy Brosnan                           3.13.28 + 4.15
5 Amaury Pierron                       3.13.44 + 4.3
7 Gee Atherton                           3.14.41 +5.28
32 Taylor Vernon                              3.22.95 +13.82

Friday 1 April 2016

Silverline Tools teams up with Subaru for a return to BTCC racing

Silverline Tools teams up with Subaru for a return to BTCC racing

UK tool brand Silverline is once again sponsoring a top British Touring Car Championship team. The global tool manufacturer, which won the championship with Jason Plato as team Silverline Chevrolet in 2010, has confirmed a sponsorship deal with Team BMR for the 2016 season.

The team will be known as Silverline Subaru BMR Racing.

“We’ve been keeping a close eye on developments in BTCC over the past few years and think now is a great time to rejoin forces with Jason and the team, especially with Subaru on board. It’s going to make for a very exciting season,” said Rob Henry, Silverline brand manager.

Renowned car manufacturer Subaru will enter the Touring Car Championship after signing a sensational three-year deal with Team BMR. The squad will run the all-new Subaru Levorg Sports Tourer in this year’s series, with both Jason Plato and Colin Turkington spearheading the title assault.

Speaking from the latest testing at Brands Hatch, Jason Plato said “It’s fantastic to welcome my good friends and long-time sponsors Silverline back as Title sponsor to our exciting Subaru BTCC project. We have a great history of winning races together, when I won the championship with Silverline in 2010 I was presented with an enormous spanner, I look forward to an even bigger one in October!”

Based in Somerset, Silverline is a leading industry manufacturer and supplier of more than 5,000 hand and power tools to traders throughout the UK and Europe.

The first race of the BTCC series starts on Saturday 2nd April at Brands Hatch in Kent.