After a few years absence, Golden Grove Orchard returned to the Western Australian DH race calendar as the site of state round #4. With steep open grass sections and plenty of rocks, the track at Golden Grove is very different to the technical pine forest tracks WA riders are used to. A good showing from volunteer track builders in the weeks leading up to the event had the track in great condition. It began in natural bush at the top of the hill with a few dusty blown out corners and a rock garden, before heading through fast sweeping grassy turns and a few drops in the middle section, then shooting through a fast rock section out into the open, off a drop and into a steep fast grass paddock with two ski jumps.
108 riders showed for the race and a taste of the world’s best orange juice available from the orchard. Saturday practice saw everyone coming to terms with the open nature of the track, with bunting poles getting punched and smashed to bits all down the track. Kian Ismaili showed why he holds the nickname “hucker”, gapping from a sketchy rock exiting the second rock garden across a road, landing into the next berm. The marshal at this point (who has been kicking around the DH scene for a while) described it as one of the loosest things he had ever seen! Sunday morning saw frost on the ground, which led to some drifty moments for those who chose to ride the bottom grass section. Many riders instead focused their attention on practicing the rapidly blowing out upper section. With the sun soon blazing, some corners turned completely to powder. With dust in the air it was hard to believe it was winter! Racing got underway with the U13s; Thomas Gaskin and Justin Tang had a good battle, with Thomas taking the win. In the U15 category Aaron Leagas continued his dominance, 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, Jake De Klerk racing up a category rode well for second place, with an attacking style resembling that of his old man (club president Paul De Klerk). Bernard Scott had the measure in U17’s, while Ellis Moore won the never-ending battle for the top step in Masters, 0.9 seconds ahead of Paul Fage.
In the Vets class Walshy once again laid down a speedy run for an old fella and took top spot. Ryan Litterick celebrated becoming a father by taking the win in Expert ahead of Albany’s Nathan Symonds, and Rebecca Bacchus put in a solid time to take out Elite Womens.
In the U19 category mad hucks weren’t enough for Kian Ismaili, coming in 2nd behind the super smooth Jackson Davis (Swell Specialized) with Tom Anitich in 3rd.
Coming into this race Luke Ball led the points chase ahead of Deon Baker and Mitch Bryant. With Sam Hill and a bunch of other rapid elites to contend with, they were all pushing hard.
Come finals time it was no surprise that Sam Hill (CRC Nukeproof) was on top of the box, 6 seconds clear of the field. Behind him times were tight, with 2nd place Todd Masden, 3rd place Deon Baker (Giant WA Racing) and 4th place Luke Ball (Carine Cycles) all on the same second! Mitch Bryant sent some hucks and wild drifts to round out the podium in 5th. Heading into round five the points chase remains unchanged, with Luke Ball (441 points) leading Deon Baker (394 points) and Mitch Bryant (305 points).
Thumbs up to Paul De Klerk and the other volunteers from PDMBC who made the event happen, commissarie old mate Dave, and all of those who volunteered their time to marshal on the day! Round five of the series heads back to the pine forest of Wellington Mills. Keep your eyes peeled for a build day that will be announced on the PDMBC Facebook page. With four shuttle buses and some fresh loamy sections of track planned, it should be a good time. See you there!
Words : Rex Dubois Photos : Sean Lee