17 May 2017

DFT United Race Report - NW Cup #2

The Pro GRT round in “always sunny Port Angeles” continues to be the highest attended DH race in North America with over 540 racers all showing up for a chance to ride the epic Dry Hill trails. This race brings in a diverse group of riders hailing from all over the USA and Canada who navigate to a tiny place out on the Olympic Peninsula in hopes of returning home a winner. The Pro GRT brings fast riders, insanely tight results, and next level heckling. Leading up to race weekend, it became clear that weather was going to be a factor with “always sunny” and dry being far from what the racers would be experiencing over the 3 day event.

Practice started early on Friday for Pro/Jr. Expert with the weather being kind enough to allow the riders to get in a full practice without any rain. Pro rider, Kent, got up to speed quickly and was feeling very comfortable with the track and his TR500.  He spent some time working giving tips on line choices to his teammates Baily (Pro) and Sylas (Jr. Expert). Sylas was looking good and up to speed by the end of practice. Bailey was feeling pretty good and dialing in a few more things on his bike as practice came to a close. Just as the Pro/Jr. Expert practice came to an end, the sky opened and un- leashed its fury in the form of copious amounts of rain right at the Cat 2 practice started. Coming off great results at the CDC Enduro at Tiger Mountain, Cam Gibb and Louie Blair were looking to back those up at the Pro GRT round in Port Angeles. After a mere 2 laps in monsoon conditions, Louie was feeling great on his TR500 and loving the course. Both riders decided to call it done for the day sloshed their way back to the team tent.

The weather was all over the board on Saturday with more monsoon rains in the morning, sun, hail, drizzle, and sprinkle’s throughout the rest of the day keeping racers and organizers on their toes for continuous changing track conditions. Cam and Louie had much better practice conditions on Saturday and the boys got up to speed quick and got some much needed fast laps in on their track. Saturday was also Cam’s 15th birthday. Going into qualifying on Saturday afternoon Sylas and Kent felt like they had some good runs and were ready for qualifying.  Bailey was still working through some set-up issues with the sloppy conditions and working on getting in the groove. Up first in qualifying was Jr. Expert, Sylas Linnemann, who had a solid run nailing down 19th/45. The Pros dropped in next with Kent Billingsley flying down the track on a great run coming placing him 31st/96. Bailey was the last DFT United racer to drop, but due to an unfortunate crash finished his qualifying run in 93rd/96 and looking to turn things around on Sunday with a good run. Sunday was another mixed bag of sun and rain keeping all race tracks adequately saturated and super muddy. Up first on Sunday for his race run was the birthday boy, Cam Gibb, who turned 15 on Saturday and was looking to improve on his NW Cup #1 finish.  Cam came ripping out of the woods sprinting to the final mega berm into the finish line and pulling in a 25th/53 in the stacked Cat 2 Men 15-18. Up next was super grom, Louie Blair, who is on the hunt for a podium after his 5th/20 finish at NW Cup

Number one Louie blasted out of the woods, scrubbing the finish table and sprinting around the mega berm to the finish just missing the box with a 4th/29 in Cat 2 Men 0-14. Jr. Expert rider, Sylas Linneman, was next to drop for DFT United.  Sylas fell victim to a sequence of unfortunate events leading up to and during his race run. A broken chain in his last practice run right before his race run required a rush back down the hill for a quick repair then quickly having to load back onto the shuttle to get to the top for his race run. Sylas started his race run on a burner feeling really good, then as he approached the waterfall section near the bottom of the track, a Track Marshal stopped Sylas for a downed rider on course ahead. Sylas coasted to the bottom after the Marshal released him. He was granted a re-run and had to hustle back to the top in order to drop in before the Pros category hit the track. Unfortunately, his re-run ended early with a crash near the top of the course. It was a tough day for the always positive Sylas.

Race weekend always ends with the main event, the Pro Men Category.  First up in this category for DFT United would be Bailey Villalovos. After a disappointing qualifying run the previous day, Bailey was looking for clean run in tough track conditions.  The young pro could not catch a break on this course crashing on his race run ending his opportunity for redemption. Kent Billingsley was feeling good all day and looking to pick up about 5 seconds on his qualifying time. Kent was able to keep the rubber side down and pinned on his race run. He came ripping out of the trees over the final table and into the final berm slotting in 33rd/96 for the weekend, taking 5 seconds off his qualifying time.

The NW Cup crew never disappoints, even with crazy rains and copious amounts of peanut butter mud that has found its home in everything.  It was a great weekend of pushing limits and stretching comfort zones.

Up next, this coming weekend Louie will be headed to the CDC Round 2 – Post Canyon Enduro. Memorial Day weekend will have Bailey, Louie and Sylas at Mt. Hood for the NW Cup #3 race. That same weekend, Josh and Kent will be heading over to Kellogg, ID to pre ride the Silver Mountain Bike Park in preparation for the North American Enduro Cup race near the end of June