The Oceania Downhill MTB Championships took place on the weekend out at Kooralbyn Mountain bike park, a 90 minute drive from Brisbane. The Queensland weather turned it on for the event with nothing but blue skies and sunshine beating down on the dusty track. We spent the weekend track side and have all the action right here in our full race report…..
By Mike Branch | Photography Sam Herbert Media | Jack Datta
Kooralbyn is a location that is steeped in the history of mountain biking in Australia with a strong history in National cross country racing and some downhill racing in the late 90s and early 2000s. After over a decade of hibernation the trails were rejuvenated, brought back to life and the team at Kooralbyn Valley Mountain Bike Club resurrected the Black Snake Downhill Trail.
The Black Snake Downhill trail snakes it’s way down the hill from the scenic look out above, through private property into Kooralbyn MTB Park and finishes at the bottom of the hill near the carpark. It covers approximately 1.5km in length and drops approximately 170m in elevation, meaning that this trail has plenty of lung busting pedally sections and one where the fittest riders will have the advantage.
143 riders strapped on a race plate for qualification and race day, with no shortage of racers pushing the limits between the tape. The sheer number of riders hitting the track meant corners were getting blown out and the track was evolving over the weekend. with some new features on the track and dusty, loose conditions – it meant traction was at a premium.
Qualification day brought some unfortunate events for some of the top riders with Cassie Voysey unfortunately crashing in the top part of the track after clipping a grass tree, sadly leading to a shoulder injury that would eventually put her out of the race. Jackson Frew also crashed on one of the blown out bottom corners, cracking the frame of his race bike, meaning he would challenge race day on a borrowed bike.
The business end of the day saw the fastest qualifier Hayden Stead take the top step over Jackson Frew and Josh Arcus; whilst Ellie Smith continued her form as the fastest woman on two wheels in Australia, with the win over Sian A’Hern and local girl Jessica Hoskin. The U19 Men saw West Aussie Gus Kyme take the win over Nick Maxwell and Queenslander Taj Pollard; Elle De Nooyer took the win in U19 Women over Connor Mielke.
The U17 Men saw National Champion Carter Sloan take the top step with a time that was just 6 seconds off the Elite Men’s winning time and 8th fastest for the day overall. Sascha Mills continued to make a name for herself with another win to her name in the U17 Women’s category. Overall there would be nearly 80 junior riders competing at the 2022 Oceania DH MTB Championships and a strong showing of the fastest young talent in Australia.
FULL RACE RESULTS HERE
It was a big day on the hill and a day that saw many riders tackle an ever-changing track. There were some difficulties with the logistics due to the remote location and the live stream was disrupted as a result, the team adapted to the changes and kept bringing us another great event. Unfortunately one rider was injured and was transported via helicopter in a stable condition and we wish him the best with his recovery.
It was another great day racing bikes downhill with a bunch of like-minded people, the fact that the Oceania Downhill title was up for grabs only added to the pace and there were no shortage of smiles on the rider’s faces. This year was the first year the Oceania’s have been held in Queensland and it was great to see a solid showing of riders from across the nation.
Next year The 2023 Oceania DH MTB Championships will again make their way out to Kooralbyn Valley and the dusty, loose terrain of the Black Snake Downhill trail. Downhill racing is alive and well in this great nation of ours and we can’t wait for what awaits us for the rest of the year. As always keep the Brakes Wide Open, keep it rubber side down and see you on the trails…….