Two weeks after the literal and metaphorical dust had settled on Round 1 at Coffs Harbour, which saw Jack Moir and Danni Beecroft take wins with solid performances, the next round was at Awaba MTB Park. 2017 was the last time that Awaba saw a National round, which saw an almost unprecedented  45C+ heat which took its toll. This time round though, temperatures were in the low-mid 20's with forecasts of rainy spells which would hopefully offer great levels of grip and some exciting racing.

Local riders are well-represented in world-class talent with Jack Moir, Pat Butler, Jake Newell, Graeme Mudd, Joel Willis and others able to call this track home. They'd battle it out with other fast talent from all over Australia, with names like Tegan Molloy, Jackson Frew, Kye Ahern, Brent Smith present and up for the challenge.

Practice and Seeding

The Watagan Ranges , where the track is nestled

Saturday opened with a practice session, with riders all keen to get their lines dialed. Weather was in the end mostly tolerable, with some showers over the course of the day keeping the track bedded down and grippy. Of course the local riders were fast on course owing to local knowledge but other riders also put down solid-looking riding in the practice sessions, including Brent Smith, Jackson Frew and Tegan Molloy. 

Rolling into Seeding thankfully the rain held off, until at around the end of the U19 Men's seeding when the heavens decided to open into a very heavy storm. Spectators raced for cover and racers could only hope their tyres hooked up, many opting for a safe run, backing off the pace enough to stay in control.

Rainy seeding session
 

But the rain was not enough to hold back Jack Moir from a blistering seeding run, which had him timed at 17 seconds faster than Graeme Mudd in second place, and only 3 seconds off Troy Brosnan's track record in the dry!

 

Race Day

 

Sunrise over the ranges looking towards Lake Macquarie and the ocean.
 

There were clearer skies on Sunday, with only light showers predicted. This would be the case during the day with only a light amount of rain through the day but far less than Saturday thankfully.

Riders took their last chance to practice on the morning before moving into racing at around lunchtime through the different age classes.

In U19 Men's, Pat Butler, fresh from inking a World Cup factory team deal on MS-Mondraker showed every bit of his local knowledge to win, with a 5 second margin over Matt Carter.

Elite Female was hard fought, with Danni Beecroft crashing in the top section of track and snapping her handlebar under the grips and then fighting for enough grip to control the bike to the bottom, letting Tegan Molloy snatch victory by 7 seconds with Lisa Mathison in 3rd place.

Tegan Molloy
 

I had a pretty good run, I feel like I rode consistently the whole way down which was the goal for today. I was happy to come away with the win and to beat my target time was even better.  - Tegan

Elite Female Results
5th Kellie Weinert
4th Katie Lawlor
3rd Lisa Mathison
2nd Danni Beecroft
1st Tegan Molloy

The Elite Male though came down to the wire, with many hot seat changes throughout but especially in the top 10 riders. As the hot seats were changing hands between Darcy Coutts, Joel WIllis and Jackson Frew, many riders were unable to beat the best time of the moment until Graeme Mudd, fixing his brake problems of yesterday's seeding, smashed down with a great 3:30.75. But training partner and mate Jack Moir was not to be defeated on the day, coming across the line with an astonishing 3:24.321, sealing his two wins from two races and taking a good 6 seconds off the previous track record.

Jack Moir crosses the line.
 
You never really know if you're going to win but I was hoping for the win and it's good to do it. - Jack Moir

Elite Male Results
5th Josh Clark
4th Joel Willis
3rd Jackson Frew
2nd Graeme Mudd
1st Jack Moir

An end to another day of racing, and onwards and upwards for Jack Moir, soon to be off for his World Cup training camp with Intense and heading to National Champs to see if he can win back to back 2017 and 2018 champ titles.

We will not need to wait long for the next challenge, as next up in the National downhill calendar is the Championships at Bright and Round 3 at Narbethong, Victoria.


Full results here: http://www.vola-racing.com/msportspro/huntermtb/

Words & Photos: Ben Sykes