Sakakibara Race Report - BMX NSW State Series Round 1
The season has oﬃcially kicked oﬀ! February 18 hosted the ﬁrst round of the BMXA National Series in Penrith - this was our ﬁrst UCI event for the year - it was going to be interesting for us. As the race wasn’t part of World Championships qualiﬁcation, Saya and I essentially trained through the event with performance at the International races in March/April in mind.
Penrith BMX Club did an amazing job of getting the track ready for the event. The new start hill and gate was awesome, and the track surface was rock hard. On Elite race day, which was Sunday, temperature exceeded 35 degrees celsius to make an absolute burner of a day. Eﬀective hydration and cooling protocols were crucial for a successful ride.
Saya – Elite Women – Placed 1st
The opening round of the 2018 National series was an event that the whole of New South Wales was excited about along with the rest of the country. I was feeling quite on point on the lead up to the race, having the technical 3rd straight dialled in and the gate perfect so there was no doubt I couldn’t wait for the racing to begin.
Race day rolled around and I woke up feeling so fatigued and sleepy from media the day prior and this exhaustion carried through all of the qualifying motos.
Due to rider crashes there were lengthy delays on the racing which impacted the timing of my warm ups, resulting in having to warm up multiple times before a race rather than once. This didn’t help my lethargic situation but I put together 3 strong laps and qualiﬁed 1st into the ﬁnal.
I was feeling nervous before the ﬁnal, after some slow start reaction times during the motos I was lacking in conﬁdence that I’ll pull together a good enough lap to win the ﬁnal.
But I went through the process and got on the gate. I was nervous but I think that was the edge I need to put together my fastest lap of the day and win the ﬁnal by almost a 2 second lead!
I surprised myself with what I was capable of today, and I was really happy with how I dealt with the fatigue throughout the day. That’s the last race in Australia before we jet oﬀ to Europe to compete in the European races and World Cups!
Kai – Elite Men – Placed 1st
It was a tough day of racing for me. I was prepared, but my priorities lay with the start of my International stint in late March, so the race fell into the middle of a training block geared towards March. Nevertheless, I was feeling good, and hungry to start the season oﬀ on a high.
My riding was solid throughout the day, while struggling with consistency out of the start. I got through the motos with 2nd, 2nd, 1st, and ﬁnished 2nd in the semi ﬁnal to be 3rd qualiﬁer for the ﬁnal.
My start in the ﬁnal was a disaster. I was committed to the start, but got the timing all wrong, and I smashed my front wheel into the gate. I entered the ﬁrst corner in last. Outside of winning, one of my tasks for the day if I was behind was to set up moves to pass, not go for every move on every section of the track prematurely.
I waited down the ﬁrst straight past three riders in the ﬁrst corner, which put me into 5th. On the second straight, I lined myself up on the outside away from the bunch of riders on the inside, and as it happened, the leading rider went down, bringing another down with him. I was now in 3rd into the second corner!
I saw Corey Frieswyk and Max Cairns battling around the second corner in front of me, and I knew that I could get the win from there. I nailed the third straight to line myself next to Max on the last corner, and made a high-low move and a drag race on the last straight to pass him for the win on the ﬁnish line!
I was actually very disappointed in my start, but stoked that I was able to remain calm and make good decisions around the track that ultimately got me the win. This type of riding is what is going to allow me to succeed on an international scale as well.
Next stop, Verona, Italy!
Photo: Jayce Cunning