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Recap: 2019 Ride Concepts DHSS Dirtstar DH

A sunny Saturday on the trails made for a nail-biting finish in this year's DHSS Dirtstar Downhill!

With a nasty cold front forecast for the second half of the weekend, we luckily scored a sunny, warm Saturday – perfect timing for the 6th annual Ride Concepts DHSS Dirtstar DH race. 65 riders from around the South Island (plus a couple from a wee bit further afield) lined up in the start gate to drop into Cardrona's Dirtstar DH Nationals trail, with a couple of new technical sections courtesy of the bike park's trail building team, led by Russ Paver.

This event was the final round of the Downhill Southern Series (DHSS), which has events around Otago, Canterbury and Southland that test the country's best downhill and enduro riders.

This year riders were broken up into the following categories – U14, U17, Open, Masters (30-39) and Masters (40+), with men's and women's divisions in each category. 

U14 Boys' winner Luke Wayman. Photo: Ray Tiddy

The U14 boys' podium was a surprise for the local Otago riders, with the top 3 placings all going to riders from Canterbury. Luke Wayman smoked the field with a 16sec lead over second-placed Oil Nicholls, and Kayne Johnston took home the third-place prize.

The Queenstowners got their own back in the hotly-contested U17 boys' category. 20 boys ripped the course apart, with Queenstown's Toby Meek and Riley Adlam separated by a single second, and Methven's Reilly Duff only another second behind Riley.

The ladies were absolutely ripping too, with Amy Benson representing for the Junior girls, and Wanaka local 16-year-old Kalani Muirhead stepping up to the Open Women's category and taking second place in a podium of Queenstown's Kathy Morris in first, and Phoebe Coers in third. 

The men's open category was a total spectacle. The new race format meant the first run was used as seeding, and the second lap order went from slowest to fastest, with the fastest single time counting for the win. It was a nail-biting finish for men's winner Kieran Bennett from Christchurch, who beat out a list of riders that included World Cup and EWS racers. Hamish McLeod and Jayd Adlam, both of Queenstown, rounded out the men's podium.

Open Men's winner, Kieran Bennett. Photo: Ray Tiddy

The Masters' competition was joined by crowd favourites Jackson and Rose Green (who race tandem), and Agata Bulska, Peter Miller, and Shane Heka took out their respective divisions. 

We're super stoked on another great race for this year's Dirtstar Downhill – a massive thanks to all the competitors for coming out, and to Ride Concepts for providing the prizes!

Check out all the race photos by Ray Tiddy (Hoiho Media) and podium photos by Carly Parker below:

About the Author

Jen Houltham


Jen is Cardrona's resident word nerd. She's out & about on the mountain most days; a big fan of carving groomed runs, powder hunting & laps through Lil' Bucks!