Qualification time and the only instance where it’s 1 rider against the clock. You don’t have to worry about covering the insides so as to not be either overtaken or taken out, quickest lines only here. Image one shows Scott Beaumont under the start hill doing one last inspection of the track before his run where he would qualify 11th. Image 2 is Stefano Dolfin pushing up to the gate to qualify 13th. He had to withdraw from racing after just 1 run in practice on race day due to mentally struggling. Hat’s off for being so open about it, it is the gnarliest 4X track in the world and when you’re racing against 3 other guys you have to be switched on otherwise you could easily leave in an ambulance. The final image is of course the start lights. Some riders go on the audio beeps, some on the lights either way when the lights are on green you should already be on your way out the randomly dropped gate. For the nerdy analytical amongst you, if your front when was over the drop out of the gate before the lights went off, you had a decent snap and initial drive.
The crash Hannes Slavik had in 2019 on the second double on the pro line into the woods was absolutely horrific leaving him in hospital for a good bit of time. So much so that we were having jokes about how he managed to topple a tree with his body on impact. He managed to put the monsters back in the closet and qualify 5th fastest. To see a rider of his level mentally struggle with something you know they’re more than capable of is an interesting spectacle. The mind is an interesting thing, it can propel you and it can certainly hold you back.
It’s all the ones for Josie McFall. Qualifying first for the first time in her career she got to don the #1 plate to the Burgtec Ride Wides. She was also the very first rider on track come race day eager to try new lines for racing.
And just like that, it went from blue skies to an absolute was out. Don’t get me wrong, the deep dusty track needed a bit of water to get it running prime but as the old addage goes, be careful what you wish for, you may not like what you get. 20 minutes into a proper downpour Erik Emmrich checks his phone and delivered the good news that it should pass over in 15 minutes.
As Emmrich had called, it soon started to clear up. Naturally, people were hesitant to be the first rider back on track. How was the first turn going to be? how were the take-offs on the massive proline? the roots in the woods… Former racer Davide Dolfin wasn’t too worried about the rain though sporting a rubber ring duck which kept Hannes Slavik’s young one entertained.
Being the showman that he is, Tomas Slavik understands how to run events. Before racing starts he does rider introductions to the crowd. This year it was a different take where each rider would be able to do 1 lap of the course as they are introduced. Pictured, organiser of the 4X ProTour Scott Beaumont sends the second double out of the woods into a 180 berm. It’s a good job it’s a pan shot otherwise you would have struggled to spot him in the vast crowds on the side of the hill.
As the pre-race performance crescendo, Ex Czech Air Force and 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Champion Martin Sonka put on an utterly perplexing display which had the crowds looking on in awe. The way he can throw a plane around and not have one of the wings just rip off due to all kinds of pressures is insane. I think the basic way to explain it would be to imagine Gee’s crash where he rag-dolled down the hill. That, in an aeroplane but then throwing on a bunch of throttle and flying out of it… Over and over for close to 30 minutes.
Being the quickest man on the hill the previous day Tomas Slavik starts proceeding off leading out the gate and into the first straight much to the delight of the local fans.
In the Women’s Michaela gets a strong start and randomly decides to send the proline for the first time as she is leading. With all this newfound pace into the woods it all goes massively wrong and she stacks it. This allows Anna Slancova and Josie McFall through and that’s how it finishes.
1st – Anna Slancova
2nd – Josie McFall
3rd – Michaela Hajkova
What can I say about the men’s? Tomas had a clean sweep all weekend winning not just qualification but every single race he was in including taking the final in a comfortable fashion.
1st – Tomas Slavik
2nd – Gustaw Dadela
3rd – Peter Pala
4th – Nicolas Nevrkla
5th – Dominik Kvapil