A winning weekend for Team Sakakibara
Words by Kai
Last weekend hosted Rounds 7-8 of the European Cup in Sarrians, France. It was a great weekend for Team Sakakibara, with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th place finishes to add to our European results for the year!
"Sarrians was one of the first events this year that I felt completely healthy coming into" Saya recounted, and it really showed in her results over the weekend. She finished a solid 1st in Day 1, narrowly avoiding a crash with Ruby Huisman to take the lead, and with a 3rd place finish in Day 2.
Day 1 was Saya's first international win of 2019, and gave her a sense of relief after the challenging season she has had so far this year.
"I really felt for Ruby who went down, but I was very happy with my own riding and it reminded me of what I was capable of achieving".
Upon reflection, it was her starts that prevented her from winning in Day 2. A very subtle technical flaw was putting her half a step behind out of the start, which ultimately cost her the holeshot in the Final.
"Since the event in Sarrians, my focus has been on making my starts just a little more fluent and efficient so that I'm not disadvantaging myself at the start. I'm feeling much more confident now" Saya explained.
It's going to be an exciting event for Saya at the Paris World Cup.
It was a solid weekend of racing for me. It was my first time racing in Europe off a non-SX hill, so I was excited for the different style of racing against the solid international competition. My objective for this race was to tidy up my mental process to allow myself to compete at the level that I am capable of. Basically put, not "getting in my own way", as I felt like I had at some of the previous events.
I was too excited in Day 1. I had a solid run through my qualifying motos and my 1/8, 1/4 and Semi finals, but lost track of my routine as I went overboard to try and win the final. I messed up my start, and made several more mistakes around the track. I was able to get myself into 4th around the last corner, but lost a lot of speed in the process. I got passed by two riders for a 6th place finish.
My task in Day 2 now was to repeat my process from early in the day in Day 1, and treat each race with the same intensity throughout the day. And it worked! I had my best start of the day in the Final, and battled my way through for a 2nd place finish.
I was wrapped with the result, but more importantly happy that I was able to execute my start, my first straight, and my race.