The time trial determines the starting positions for the race proper. The fastest rider on the day will thus leave first, with the next fastest rider starting second, based on the time deficit. It is vital to let it all hang out, so as to not haemorrhage too much time. The time trial start was delayed by 2 hours as the top of Bushman’s Pass experienced significant snowfall overnight, and the helicopters could not get airborne due to poor visibility. The route was a 40 odd kilometre loop starting and finishing at Bushmen’s.
By the time racing got underway the snow had virtually melted, apart from on the surrounding mountain tops. An icy wind cut to the bone, with temperatures at around 4 degrees, but a wind chill factor of note! Nothing seems to deter these phenomenal athletes, who simply race on, unfazed. By the time the time trial had finished, the gauntlet was well and truly thrown down.
The top ten times were as follows:
Wade Young – Sherco Factory Race Team. 1hr 21,53
Blake Gutzeit – Bidvest Yamaha bLU cRU Racing. 1hr 21,54
Travis Teasdale – Brother Leader KTM. 1hr 21,59
Graham Jarvis – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing. 1hr 22,40
Alfredo Gomes – Factory KTM Racing. 1hr 23,48
Andreas Lettenbichler – Brother Leader KTM. 1hr 25,41
Manuel Lettinbichler – Brother Leader KTM. 1hr 25,46
Scott Bouverie – Brother Leader KTM. 1hr 27,19
Kyle Flanagan – Bidvest Yamaha bLU cRU Racing 1hr 31,19
Dwayne Kleynhans – Brother Leader KTM. 1hr 33,40
To touch on the ‘Battle of the Babes’, Sandra Gomes put a shot across Kirsten Landman’s bows with a blistering 1hr 51,18 time trial. Kirsten came in at 2hr 24,01.
The weather report looks very favourable for the rest of the race, with big blue skies and moderate temperatures. Conditions could not be better. The rain seems to have laid the dust, and created great loamy traction. Visibility is perfect. Now it is all down to the riders, and perhaps Lady Luck will have some say. We will keep you posted as the drama unfolds.