It felt a little like Camelot weatherwise - in that it rained all the way to Gurston, and then stopped shortly after we got there, and quickly developed into a lovely warm day, with a healthy tailwind that swiftly and completely dried out the track. And then, just as we had everything nearly packed away, it started raining again!
However, despite the vagaries of the weather, and the track being used by farm machinery since the autumn, the surface was surprisingly good once dry, and enabled some excellent times to be achieved.
The hill saw a record number of 9 Gravity bikes, as the meeting was also the first round of their annual championship, so competition was keen. Ian Round emerged as overall winner, with a time of 53.47 secs on his second qualifier, pipping Justin Greaves into second with 53.91, and Zack Leader 3rd with a 55.19. Jethro Flowerdew followed with 55.31 in 4th, with Stefan Cree 5th with a 56.06, Danny Floyde on 58.59, Matt Cross 59.09, young Sam Phillips 1.00.47 and Daphne Smith 9th with 1.06.38. Some really good times, several personal bests - and superb looking bikes!
The 3 Street Lugers were headed by Gareth Chamberlain at the finish, with a smooth 57.44; Martin Hull in 2nd with 59.65, and Bruce Smith - also cracking the magic minute barrier - with a 59.65.
The 5 'Taster Day' Street Luge novices were all unusually fast from the start, but at the finish it was OUMF's Andy Boulet who took top honours with a qualifier of 1.02.85, edging out Gareth Baggott with a 1.03.43 in 2nd. Friends Doug Inge and Steve Humpston took 3rd and 4th with 1.04.75 and 1.05.69 respectively, while 5th man Johnny Longden was actually quickest in practice, but failed to nail a qualifying run - so, frustratingly, the promise of his early 1.02.78 was never realised in the final results. Maybe next time...?!
Of the 11 Stand Ups, only 5 were gunning hard against the clock, and right up to the end, with times being chipped away at, it was anyone's guess who would emerge winner. As is often the case, Pete Connolly, Chris Vanstone and Jon Braund were the main contenders - and when Pete donned his new 'Star Wars' aerodynamic helmet, we knew things were getting serious! On their first qualifiers they were seperated by 100ths, all on 53 seconds - with Pete quickest on 53 dead. However, while he may have thought he had it in the bag, Chris pulled a stunning final run of 52.50 and took the laurels - for both Stand Up, and Fastest Time of the Day. Pete couldn't better his first time and was second and Jonathan's 'sliding' best was a very creditable 53.78 for third. Will Greatrex took 4th with 58.22, and Ed Carter 5th with 1.00.41.
That a Stand Up time could be a full second faster than the fastest Gravity bike just doesn't seem credible, but we were all there to witness it! And, thanks to Ian Penny and his highly skilled, drone flying photography. Check out multirotorvista.com for more!
All riders owe a big thank you to Vlad Ardeleanu who stepped into Robert Brown's shoes as Chief Timing Marshal and did a superb job; the day couldn't have gone ahead without him. And I know everyone sends their best wishes to Robert for a speedy recovery.
All in all, a great day's riding right across the skill sets and disciplines, and let's hope the next Gurston meeting comes together nicely on Easter Sunday April 16th.
PLEASE NOTE - 23 have already signed up for the 16th April already - in the last 24 hours since it was posted - so book your slot now to avoid disappointment.
Gurston Downhill Longboard/Luge/Gravity Bike Race Report - 12th March 2017
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