The First world cup came early this year with Pietermaritzburg South Africa hosting the season opener March 15-18th. The 2012 race season showcases some of the stiffest competition ever on the circuit and the South African course is designed to separate the strong from the week. Equipped with stiffer suspension, light-weight parts and dropper posts the racers would surely have to pedal their way to a victory. There would be no coasting here.
Heading down to the first race of the season was more Norco DH Athletes than you could shake a stick at. Even with Ben Reid out with illness the lot included Jill Kintner, Bryn Atkinson, Dan Stanbridge, Duncan Riffle, Olie Burton, Ludovic May and Isak Leivsson.
With 7 athletes racing on the 2012 Norco Aurum this was a great test for the work put in by Norco engineering and the Dirt Norco Race Team.
In qualifying Jill Kintner was able to come in for 5th spot for the women. This placed her in a great fighting position for a podium spot in the finals. In the men’s elite category a whopping 134 racers came out to compete. In his first world cup back since injury Jill’s partner Bryn Atkinson qualified competitively in 18th place. Shortly behind was Dirt Norco’s Duncan Riffle in 37th and Oliver Burton in 48th. Super-D specialist Ludovic may and Norwegian rider Isak Levisson squeaked through to the finals in 74th and 75 spots. Unfortunately Dirt Norco’s Dan Stanbridge flatted and missed qualification for the main event.
After a further day of practice the finals came around. With enough moisture to keep the dust down, the track was fast, hot and punishing. It was clear far ahead of time that fitness would be a major consideration in winning the season’s opener.
In the women’s race, Jill faltered slightly in the top section before fighting through and gaining time back down the course. Jill climbed up one spot from qualifying finishing on the podium in 4th spot. In the men’s field, competition is even tighter. The fight for top 50 seems nearly as competitive as the fight for top 5. Bryn took a quick start before bogging down in the pedally bits and finished as the Norco top male in 24th position. Oliver Burton had by far his best race to date in an extremely impressive 27th spot. The newest addition to the Norco roster is Dirt’s Duncan Riffle who finished his first race on the Aurum in 37th place; 3/10ths of a second behind was Norwegian rider Isak Leivsson. Ludovic May finished in 68th position.
4. Jill Kintner (USA) Team Norco International 8.492
24. Bryn Atkinson (Aus) Team Norco International 0:10.657
27. Oliver Burton (Gbr) Team Are Bikepark By W-Racing 0:11.178
36. Duncan Riffle (USA) Dirt Norco Race Team 0:13.211
37. Isak Leivsson (Nor) Norco Bicycles 0:13.491
68. Ludovic May (Sui) Norco Factory Team
The 2012 Norco Team is the largest it has been and has more talented riders than ever before. The first World Cup is out of the way and we have a bit of a wait before Italy’s Val Di Sole kicking off on June 2nd. In the meantime, you can stay in tune with the latest racing in the British National Series and the upcoming Sea Otter Classic.