The stage was set for the opening round of the EMS Enduro Shimano Australian tour at Nerang, on sunny Queensland’s Gold Coast. With riders flying in from all over the Nation, the race was looking to be a cracking start to the series, but the weather had other plans….
Nerang State Forest is situated just west of the sandy beaches of Surfer’s Paradise, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. A world-renowned holiday destination and home to many a bikini-clad beauty, the Gold Coast is a mecca for beach side living and warm, sunny weather. As the riders began arriving for the race, the weather had other plans and days of torrential rain led to difficult conditions.
After negotiations with land owners failed to allow EMS to access the best trails at Nerang for the race, the stages were released and an air of disappointment resonated. The course was to be just over 15km long, with less than 500m of elevation and made up of 5 stages. For a national event this was disappointing and definitely did not showcase the best trails Nerang has to offer, with the local SEQ Enduro series accessing better trails throughout the season.
More disappointment was to follow with the forecast of heavy rain during the race and winds up to 40 kph rolling in at midday on race day. EMS Enduro made the difficult decision to drop one of the stages to ensure all racers were off the course by midday and out of the forecast strong winds. This cut the course to just over 13 km and for a Enduro World Series Qualifier, the challenge was certainly low in comparison to most other EWS qualifier rounds.
Despite the short course and difficult racing conditions, just over 150 racers strapped on a race plate and hit the trails. EMS did a great job of ensuring the start was smooth, timing was on point and the facilities were great, so all the racers had to do was pin it in the wet. Sam Hill had flown in to race the EMS series and it looked set to be a difficult race to win in the elite men’s category for anyone that wasn’t a world champion.
Local legend Ben Forbes managed to pip 2 x EWS World champion Sam Hill by just under ten seconds, upsetting what many predicted to be a whitewash. Third place was taken out by Adende Jager, just over 16 seconds behind Ben Forbes and six seconds slower than Sam Hill. The Elite Female category saw Rowena Fry take the top step, followed closely by Emily Parkes, with Cati Pearson stepping on the bottom step.
All other results can be found on the EMS Australia website
The first round of the EMS Enduro Shimano Australian Tour was certainly packed with action and difficult weather conditions coupled with limited trail use led to a tough race to manage. Despite these set backs, EMS delivered a hassle-free race with minimal disruption and great facilities. Local legend Ben Forbes will be stoked with his win over Sam Hill and it makes for an interesting start to the series. We look forward to seeing what EMS has to offer in the next round on November 11 in Derby, Tasmania. Hopefully we see a ray of sunshine down there and a touch more gravity…..