Well, well, well… another year and again the Shimano GP series hosted by Rockytrail Entertainment has concluded. The racing this year has provided some fantastic race locations – some new, and some old favorites. Some of the new trails visited this season include Glenrock MTB Park just south of Newcastle, as well as the new Singleton race location. Both locations provided additional interest to an already diverse array of race locations as part of the series.
Last Saturday (23rd July) was the last race on the Rockytrail GP calendar for the 2016, which drew racers to the flowy trails of Awaba in the central coast/hunter region of NSW. The weather was set for a perfect day of singletrack goodness. As it turns out after some iffy weather mid week, Martin and the Rockytrail crew decided to relocate the race to the delight of many, from Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s South West, to the Awaba MTB Park about 1.5h north of Sydney. This was to ensure the race could fully go ahead with little probability that the race be postponed due to the trails of Mt Annan still being closed following rain earlier in the week.
As always, the showing from Quantum Racing was strong. We had the usual hitters of Stefan Merriman & Andy Lloyd flying the flag in the 4h solo category, Alex Kooijman in the 7h solo category, Paul van Egmond in the Super Masters solo category whilst usual solo contenders Jacob van Egmond and Blake Shergold decided to pair up to contest the team of 2, 4 hour category.
The race started at 9am sharp with riders shuttled back along the entry road for a nice fireroad start to space out the bunch before heading into the tight twisty singletrack. As soon as the gun went, it was full gas with all racers jostling for the best position possible. With a little rain in the day’s prior, paired with relatively low bike traffic prior to the race, the trail was initially very slippery and a little muddy in spots. However, as the day went on, and riders started their 3rd and 4th respective laps, the trail was back to running in pristine condition with the mud turning to loam, and the trail offering much more grip. Still, watch out for those slippery tree roots though. Stefan and Andy Lloyd were out the front as usual, with team of two Jacob & Blake not far behind. As the race went on, many racers lap times started to slow with the breaking bumps & Heartbreak Hill around mid-way around the lap, really starting to take their toll. This included our own; Andy Lloyd who almost succumbed to the force that is; Stefan Merriman in the final Lap. Stefan really turned up the heat in the final lap, with a blistering 35:06 minute monster of a final lap, whereby he managed to reel in Andy with a respective time of 36:37 – still not a slow time. With a final sprint for the line Lloydy remained victorious over Stefan despite managing to catch up and both finish with the same final time.
Whilst the members of the Fast GP were battling away, you can’t look past the ‘Furious’ GP competitors opting to stay out on the trails for an extra 3 hours – that’s almost a full day at work. Quantum Racing’s representation consisted of the one and only Alex Kooijman of the male masters category. Don’t let Alex’s relative inexperience to the 7h field in previous years fool you – he can ride a bike. Over the seven hours Alex’s lap times only slowed by 5.5minutes, showing some serious endurance and ability to judge and gauge speed to go the long haul. Alex managed to finish 12th overall, 4th out of the soloists, and 1st in category – a stellar effort.
On behalf of all of us here at Quantum Racing we would like to thank all of our sponsors for their ongoing support. TWE Wheels, JetBlack Products, Pivot Cycles, the Odd Spoke, Way2Live, Mitas Tyres, SR Suntour & JTR & Associates. Additionally, we’d like to extend a special mention to Ondrej Slezak for his continued support of us all and overall dedication to the team. We all really appreciate it and hope you can come back to racing soon.