The GT Factory Racing team put in a sensational weekend’s riding culminating in a double World Cup victory for the awesome Athertons with Gee setting a new course record of 4:36.72 and Rachel absolutely smashing it, putting a clear 10 seconds into the rest of the field with her time of 5:08.84.
It was an emotional victory for the team – not only their first joint World Cup victory since 2010 but an emphatic end to Rachel’s run of disappointing second places on the course that she has called her nemesis. Emotions at the other extreme for young Taylor Vernon who took first in Saturday’s junior seeding only to suffer a mechanical in the top section on his finals run. Marc Beaumont posted a solid 11th spot in the mens elite to top of the weekend for the team.
The sun shone all weekend which meant the track was fast, loose and blown out. Taylor was up first and was last to start. Everything seemed to be going to plan when he was fastest at the first split but disaster struck when his rear tyre punctured, leaving him to roll down the hill to the groans of a sympathetic crowd. Taylor said ”I am gutted but it was no-ones fault, sometimes stuff just happens.“
In the women’s race Great Britains’s Manon Carpenter put in an amazing run to steal the hot seat from Emile Ragot with a great 5:18.985, even more impressive given that she was fighting food poisoning on Friday.
Rachel was last down having qualified fastest in Saturdays qualification round. She didn’t disappoint the record Fort William crowd when she went quickest at all three interval times, breaking the timing beam on the finish line she set an amazing 5.08.84 which set her winning margin to a massive 10 seconds. In her race run Rachel said “ It felt sketchy from the start – there were loads of places where I was half an inch off my line and skidding – it felt awful. I was convinced I’d thrown it away, I couldn’t believe it when I can through the finish and saw the time, and everyone was going wild for me. I made a sign for the podium because I want to say a massive thank you to all of the fans for sticking by me, and to GT for the brilliant new Fury and all of the sponsors who really work us, and to Dan Brown and Lundy and the team, I felt so relaxed this weekend, right up to my run everything went so smooth. Thanks.”
The podium in the Men’s Elite was always going to be hard fought with 6 or 7 riders qualifying within seconds of each other. The crowd went absolutely crazy as Brook MacDonald took the lead with 4.37.854, Steve Smith following just 0.2 behind. ‘Sick’ Mick Hannah was 0.2 up on Brook at the first split but he lost time to sit in third behind Smith until Sam Blenkinsop toppled him by 0.4. Gee was last but one to race and he positively flew down the track – despite a small bobble with a rock that damaged his chain, he was 1.2 seconds up at the first split and the crowd went crazy, at split two he was still 1.129 up and he finished on a lightning hot 4.36.712 – breaking his own course record. Only Danny Hart remained but he couldn’t get close to the top guys finishing 7th with 4.39.56.
Gee said “I am so stoked, I Loved that. When I saw Rachel’s results I knew I had it all to do – I’m really proud of her , thanks everyone.”
Rounding off the weekend in style GT Factory Racing also took the team award and the leaders jerseys in both the mens and women’s categories. The World Cup show now rolls on to round two next weekend where we return to another venue where the Athertons have managed the double, Val di Sole, Italy.