Sugar Mountain, N.C. (June 10 and 11) – Absent bikes and crazy weather cranked up the drama, but the Yeti-FOX Racing Factory Team worked together and got the job done.
This is a press release written by me, Lee McCormack
“It was quite the stressful weekend,” said team manager Damion Smith. “We got in from the airport (after two months in Europe), and the bikes didn’t show up.” No downhill bikes, no slalom bikes: No bikes.
The boys missed Friday downhill practice, and they didn’t expect the new team trailer to arrive until Sunday, which, by the way, is race day. Stress! But meanwhile 19-year-old TJ Sharp was driving straight from Colorado. When the haggard dude showed up Saturday morning, the team was surprised but grateful.
For Saturday downhill practice, four riders shared two bikes. Afterward they built a pair of Yeti 303 DHs for Justin Leov and Jared Graves. And let’s not forget slalom practice. If you think being a racer is all glamor and girls, wait ’til you experience a day like this!
The downhill course was steep and rough. How rough? For the first time in history, Graves was heard saying, “This course is tough. I’m having trouble with it.” There were little rocks, big rocks, embedded rocks, rock cocktail, rock gumbo, you know: rocks. Rain soaked the track overnight. By race time, the open top section was dry, but the lower woods were still slick. Tire choice was a borderline between normal tires and mud spikes; the team ran Maxxis Wet Screams with clipped center knobs.
Justin Leov has apparently healed from his shoulder injury in Vigo. The 22-year-old New Zealander had a little crash and still ripped a 3:41.23, good for second place behind Sam Hill. Graves took a couple off-bike tours and rolled a 3:50.17 for ninth. Houseman came in 27th. Sharp DNF’d, but who can blame him after that monster drive?
According to Smith, the slalom course was “Real simple. There were three stutter bumps and a couple piles of dirt. It didn’t turn much, but it was fun and fast.” Saturday’s thunderstorm halted racing at the round of eight. When racing resumed Sunday after the downhill, the team rocked their Yeti 4X suspension bikes with their standard tires: Maxxis High Roller in front and Larsen in back. “Jared usually rides his Dirt Jumper hardtail in 4X because of the start,” said Smith, “but in slalom it’s all about being smooth all the way down.”
The Yeti-FOX recipe seemed to work OK for slalom. Graves won. Houseman took second. And 18-year-old Ben Bell, on the Yeti-FOX development team, took out John Kirkaldie and Jared Rando to take third. So the podium was Yeti-FOX all the way.
At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Smith was driving the team from North Carolina to Vermont. Everyone was asleep except the driver. “Yeah, it was a stressful weekend,” he sighed, “but it worked out very well for everybody.”
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The Yeti-FOX Racing Factory Team rides the best products on the market.
– FOX – Front and Rear race-tuned Suspension
– Shimano – Drivetrain, chain, brakes, pedals, footwear
– DT Swiss – Swiss quality wheelsets
– Maxxis – Rolling the best rubber on the circuit
– Chris King – The finest headsets on the planet
– MRP – The best chainguides available
– Topeak – Pumps, tools, and bike stands
– Thomson – Stems and seatposts
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