Aussie BMX prodigy set for big leap at Supercross World Cup in Pmb

2009-08-21 00:00

THE UCI BMX Supercross World Cup has pulled into Pietermaritzburg in earnest, and some of the world’s top racers have been acquainting themselves with the purpose-built Royal Showgrounds track ahead of this weekend’s competition.

Today sees the individual time trials in order to qualify for tomorrow’s final rounds.

Emerging as an early favourite is Sam Willoughby of Australia.

The 18-year-old already made history last month when he became the first rider to win back-to-back Junior BMX Racing world titles.

The youngster is now planning on taking on the big guns and improve on his best showing at a Supercross World Cup event.

His best effort in the men’s elite was reaching the semi-final in Denmark last year. But after recording a faster time than the Elite men in the final at the recent World Championships in Adelaide, Australia, and looking super-fast and smooth during practice yesterday, the youngster could well be a podium contender in South Africa.

“I like the course a lot. It suits me because it’s got options of a few different lines on the second and third straight, making them more technical,” said Willoughby.

“It’s different because the Supercross tracks I’ve raced on before have usually been predictable with limited options. This one gives more opportunities to pedal and that’s my thing.”

With qualification points on offer for the 2012 Olympic Games, most of the world’s top racers are in Pietermaritzburg.

South Africa’s BMX sensation Sifiso Nhlapho is also in the city despite being unable to race due to a neck injury.

The Olympic star will keep locals entertained when he provides commentary during tomorrow’s events.

Such is Nhlapho’s high standing in BMX circles, several of the leading riders were spotted discussing the best tactics for the weekend.

Fifty-three men and 18 women will complete qualifying today in the form of individual time trials. The top 48 men and top 16 women will move through to the racing rounds on tomorrow.

For those present yesterday, there was a chance to see all the riders in relaxed mode, and there were also a number of crashes.

Practice begins at 10 am today with qualifying starting at midday. Tickets are R20 each with secure parking near Gate 3 costing R10 per car.


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