Austrian Championships,Ubersaxen, May 4,
Reported by Pete Eliot
morning of Saturday 4th May, Uebersaxen, Austria.
13 International riders meet to compete in the
actually 10. The British contingent are still on
their way out because Jeremy Gilder and Pete Eliot
had an important business meeting on Friday night
(of the 4 wheeled, twin engine variety) and had
special permission to turn up late. They had hoped
to make a bit of the practice session but were
disappointed when they only just turned up in time
to take the only qualifying run. Not only was it to
be their first run down a fast, technical course
with 14 turns, but to make matters worse, the fog
was so thick that you couldn't see ten metres in
front and had to guess which way the turns went.
And it was pouring with rain, making the course
found he had to lift his visor up all the way down
the hill in order to be able to see. Jeremy would
have done the same but remembered just after the
start of his run that he had taped his visor down.
Joanne Ashall had the ultimate introduction to
buttboarding on this hill which was only about her
second time ever on a buttboard. Heiko Labitzke
took the honours in qualifying and earned pole
position for the race the next day.
For the actual
race, an unconventional format was tested.
Everybody raced together in one heat in the first
round, the slowest 3 were dropped and the rest went
on to the second round. Then the first 6 from the
second round make it through to the final.
Fortunately the rain held off on race day which
meant that the track was far faster, albeit still
In the first round,
Jeremy made the rash decision to change his set up
from qualifying and try some new wheels. They had a
very strange characteristic in that they caused his
board to get speed wobbles at much lower speeds
than usual and he had to back off meaning that he
was one of the early casualties. Joanne also made
an early exit but had assured herself of the
women's title just by pushing off at the start.
Werner Buecherl, Tom Mason and Dominik Dobler were
way out in front with the rest of the field
fighting for the lower places.
So when we lined up
for round 2, it was these three at the front of the
formula 1 style grid and yet again they stormed off
in front. The same happened in the final round
which was made up of the remaining top 6 riders and
2 corners from the finish it was the same three out
front. Pete Eliot was in 4th place with Josef
Bercher challenging strongly in 5th. The
penultimate corner is a 90 degree right-hander and
one has to slow from about 50mph to 15mph to make
it round. Very similar to the final corner at
those who are familiar with that course.
In every round so
far, Yours truly had made up at least one place by
taking this cautiously whilst others over-cooked
it. So when he was playing chicken with Josef in
the final, he had the choice between risking
everything for 4th place, or playing it safe in the
hope of 3rd. He went for the latter option, and
sure enough, when Bercher and Eliot came round the
corner, one faster than the other, they were
greeted by the site of Tom Mason sprawled on the
outside of the track.
Bercher had no
option but to run into him, whilst Eliot had taken
off just enough speed to be able to cut inside and
take an undeserved 3rd place. The tortoise beat the
hare on this occasion too. Meanwhile up front, with
Mason out of the running, Werner Buecherl and
Dominik Dobler were deciding the race between
The win went to
Werner along with the title of Austrian Champion.
Benjamin Meier had an uneventful run in 4th
2. Dominic Dobler
3. Peter Eliot
4. Benjamin Meier
5. Tom Mason
6. Josef Bercher
8. Michael Mayer
9. Heiko Labitzke
10. Daniel Ladurner
12. Jeremy Gilder
13. Joanne Ashall