15 Mar 2018

Chris Panozzo and Sian A'Hern have been crowned Gravity Gods and overall champions of the Shimano Bike Buller Festival at Mt Buller, Victoria this weekend as the fastest of the field across the three key gravity races.

The 10th annual Shimano Bike Buller Festival saw an action-packed schedule of racing for all types of riders, including downhill, gravity enduro and cross country, sensational weather and almost 500 riders competing on Mt Buller’s world-class trails.

Start line of Thule Stonefly Circuit XC

Racing got underway on Saturday with the Thule Stonefly Circuit 30km XC race; complete with bluebird skies and not a breath of wind, riders powered through the beautiful snow gum wilderness of the Victorian alpine region. After the XC racing was done and dusted for the morning the action continued over on the north side for the Saint ABOM Downhill with 180 riders tackling this renowned downhill course.

Brendan Johnston won the Men’s Thule 30km Stonefly / Corn Hill circuit. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Current XCO National Champion, Cam Ivory, hot on the heels of XC winner Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston
WA’s Reece Tucknott claimed 2nd in the XC seeing Ivory finish 3rd. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Kathryn Mcinerny took out 1st place in the Women’s XC
XC top 3 female Kathryn Mcinerny 1st, Karen Hill 2nd, Sarah Tucknott 3rd

Another feature event of the weekend was Sunday’s XTR Gravity Enduro; Round 4 of the Victorian Gravity Enduro Tour – that put another 260 riders to the test over Mt Buller’s challenging trails. Sunday concluded with the SPD Mt Buller Super-D which saw 12kms and 1,100m of vertical descent from Baldy on Mt Buller, all the way to the base of the mountain.

Rounding out the long weekend’s schedule was the DHaRCHO Outlaw All Mountain Trophy on Monday that saw riders doing multiple laps on more technical MTB trails featuring fast open sections, rocky switchbacks and drop-offs; the trails dry and fast.

The variety of races held over the weekend were combined into the ‘Gravity God’ category where riders results were added together to determine a weekend winner.

Chris Panozzo on his way to 1st in the Saint ABOM Downhill. Photo: Mandy Lamont
SPD Mt Buller Super D. Photo: Matt Rousu
SPD Mt Buller Super D. Photo: Matt Rousu

Chris Panozzo, 30 of Tawonga South (VIC) dominated much of the racing across the weekend, winning the Saint ABOM Downhill on Saturday, the XTR Gravity Enduro on Sunday and runner-up in today’s DHaRCO Outlaw All Mountain Trophy. He also came a close second to Cameron Ivory in Sunday’s SPD Mt Buller Super-D.

With a cumulative racing time of just 50 minutes and 40 seconds – Chris Panozzo was crowned overall champion of the weekend and took the Gravity Gods title for elite males.

“Thanks to all the competitors for coming out, it was great to see the volume of riders coming and racing, it was perfect weather and a great venue to do it,” Panozzo said.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who were out there, they do a lot of work behind the scenes, and to Shimano, they provide a lot of support behind the scenes so if you get a chance say thanks guys, cheers, thank you!”

Panozzo also won the XTR Gravity Enduro which along with a couple of 2nd places saw him claim the 2018 Men’s Gravity God title. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Paul Lamb racing the Urban Downhill section of the XTR Gravity Enduro. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Jack Hayhoe gets some airtime_on the DHaRCO Outlaw Race. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Ben McIlroy took 2nd on Saint ABOM Downhill. Photo: Mandy Lamont

Just one minute, 20 seconds off Panozzo’s pace was Jeremy Hamilton (29, Rowville, Victoria) who rode into runner-up with a total time of 52 minutes of gravity racing. Third place in a time of 52:18 was New South Welshman, David Ludenia (28, Lawson) who was 2nd in the SPD Mt Buller Super-D and 3rd in the XTR Gravity Enduro.

Gravity Gods runner up Jeremy Hamilton. Photo: Mandy Lamont
David Ludenia wrapped up the Gravity Gods overall men’s podium. Photo: Mandy Lamont

In the women’s field Sian A’Hern, 19, Queanbeyan, NSW also battled a top-level field of elite racers but couldn’t be beaten; winning all the gravity races across the three days and the Gravity Gods title in a total time of one hour, one minute and 28 seconds.

“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for putting on such a great weekend, it was really awesome,” A’Hern said.

“This is the first time I’ve been here, so I’m definitely going to come back! A big thanks to Shimano for helping out all the riders over the weekend. It was just awesome, thank you!”

ABOM Downhill was the first win of the festival for Gravity God female champion, Sian A’Hern. Photo: Mandy Lamont

Downhill specialist Sian A’Hern also took the win in Sunday’s XTR Gravity Enduro. Photo: Mandy Lamont

Second overall was 26-year-old Victorian Rachel Hore of Beaconsfield who secured two 2nds and a 3rd in the gravity races with total 1:03:40. Rounding out the women’s Gravity Gods podium was Annelie Marquardt (28, Sherwood, QLD) with a total time of 1:06:50.

Gravity God female runner up, Rachel Hore, racing ABOM Downhill
Gravity Gods female 3rd overall, Annelie Marquardt. Photo: Mandy Lamont

The weekend wasn’t just about elite gravity races with a range of spectacle events to keep friends and families entertained across the weekend with the 16” Dual Slalom and Pump Track Pursuit on Saturday night, the Schwalbe Kids Village Ride, the Picnic in the Park festival and The Moment movie premiere and Eskapee slideshow adding to the atmosphere.

A great turnout of future Gravity Gods for the Schwalbe Kids Village Ride

16″ Dual Slalom thrills and spills
16″ Dual Slalom winner, Hayden Fletcher. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Pump track pursuit. Photo: Mandy Lamont
Pump track pursuit winner, Gaelan Slaney

“To welcome some of Australia’s best riders and see how much they enjoy the trails and event format, is a real buzz,” said event manager Sam Maffett from Rapid Ascent. “The quality of the riding, the camaraderie and the friendliness out there makes it a real joy to be part of. Combine all this with the superb trails here at Mt Buller and perfect weather and it really has been a sensational weekend.”

“Thank you to everyone for making it one to remember, and to all of our fantastic sponsors.”

For more information head to www.ShimanoBikeBuller.com

Shimano Bike Buller Results:

Gravity Gods male Top 3

  1. Chris Panozzo 0:50:42
  2. Jeremy Hamilton 0:52:00
  3. David Ludenia 0:52:18
Top 3 male elite: Chris Panozzo 1st, Jeremy Hamilton 2nd, David Ludenia 3rd

Gravity Gods female Top 3

  1. Sian A’Hern 1:01:28
  2. Rachel Hore 1:03:40
  3. Annelie Marquardt 1:06:50
Top 3 elite women: Sian A’Hern 1st, Rachel Hore 2nd, Annelie Marquardt 3rd

Race Results are available HERE.

Photos as credited, courtesy of Rapid Ascent.