"Bathurst turned it on again for a fantastic weekend of racing on Australia's most famous hill. Newtons Nation brings together the great gravity disciplines of Luge, Standup and Inline, mixing them with BMX, Mountain bike, parkour and other great extreme sports. All to a soundtrack of great Australian music. A few changes this year gave a great intimate feel and the movement of the stage closer to the track made for an amazing backdrop of Bathurst for the bands. Not to mention music for competitors getting ready to race. The addition of a massive big screen showing live images from the track and a live website cast gave never before seen exposure of all the sports at Newtons Nation. The live webcast was especially a hit with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in over the weekend to see the action. This year Brisbane was represented by huge field of 11 riders. Ebony, Nathan, Steve K, Graham, Steve C, Richard, Shaun (also doing inline), Noel, Michael and Lance. All travelled down to pit their skills against some of the Worlds best. This is the biggest field of Brisbane Lugers Newtons has seen forming almost a third of the field. Friday came up quick as riders lined up for their first practice runs of the event. After a few runs to get acquainted with the track it was straight into the first qualifying run. Once that was out of the way nice and early, riders were able to have a look around, see some of the sites and check out the other great sports on display.
On Saturday, Lugers were not required on track until after lunch, meaning SLEEP IN! A rare treat indeed and one not squadded. After the Downhill Skateboarders, Lugers stepped up for 2 practice runs and their second qualifier. Things a little more serious this time as riders tried to beat the previous days times. Some amazing efforts seen here, with nearly all riders improving on their times. Some pushing it too far though, crashing out. Unfortunately Brisbane's Shaun Condon was one of them, crashing in the dipper. The resulting injury took him out of the running for not only Street Luge, but also out of the running for Inline where he was favourite to win. All the times recorded, riders could now see how the heats were set up for the following days racing. This year, Sunday was a gloriously clear day, a relief to all as racing had to be called off in 2010 due to rain.
Lance and Nathan lined up first against some steep competition, Bathurst local Mark Anderson and Daniel Newton from Adelaide. Riding hard Lance came third and Nathan fourth. Next up Graham and Ebony faced of with David Thompson and Axel Mesenberg. Strong pushes saw Graham take the lead and winning, progressing to the next round. Ebony while slow out the gates took third after narrowly avoiding Axel when he crashed in the dipper. Then came Tyler verses Steve K. Shaun would have also been in this heat if it wasn't for the previous day's crash. The Brisbane riders were up against the UK's Will Stephenson riding a carbon fibre luge with one the biggest rear aeros ever seen. Strong pushes out the gate saw Will take a strong lead early, with Tyler only just able out push Steve K. Steve and Tyler gave chase, Will taking first, Tyler second with Steve third.
Steve C fought hard in his heat, but it wasn't enough, taking fourth. Richard rode strong taking second in his heat, holding on after contact by a nasty crash behind him between Nic McKirdy and Chris Kobier through the dipper. Lastly saw Noel taking third in his heat up against internationals David Dean and Frank Williams. After round one Brisbane riders, Graham, Tyler & Richard progressed, with Lance, Nathan, Ebony, Steven C, Steve K and Noel being eliminated. Moving into round two, Graham came out second best against Daniel Newton and progressed. Tyler came third after Adam Sparks suffered a spill through forest elbow and Richard came fourth; both riders being eliminated.
In the fourth round sole remaining Brisbane rider Graham had a corker of a run coming first against World Champion Nick Duffield and Adelaide riders Daniel Newtons and Daniel King. This placed Graham into the final up against David Dean, Nick Duffield & Adbil Mahdzan. The pressure building, the stage was set for a tough Street Luge final. Could Nick Duffield make it 4 Bathurst World Championship wins in a row? We were about find out! Massive pushes out of the gate saw Nick Duffield in the lead followed very closely by David Dean. With Graham Brittain and Abdil Mahzan neck and neck. David passes Nick shortly after the pushing ends. Nick is hot on his tale into the dipper with Abdil and Graham still fighting it out side by side. Into Forrest David is in the lead, Nick mere inches behind with Graham and Abdil close behind. Nick drops back slightly only to catch David almost immediately taking the corner much faster. A short draft later and Nick pulls out to overtake. Through Forrest, Abdil and Graham are drag racing to the finish. Nick, now out of David's draft just doesn't have the speed to take him and he decides to move back into David's draft to secure second with Abdil only just outrunning Graham to take third. An amazing final seeing David Dean beating 3 time World Champion Nick Duffield! The Classic Luge final was just as exciting which saw Brisbane riders Graham Brittain and Michael English in the running against Gold Coast rider Adam Yates and American rider Frank Williams. After a strong start Adam and Graham were neck and neck followed closely by Frank in third and Michael in fourth. Only seconds after the riders settled into their tucks a big collision between Graham and Yates saw the two tumbling.
Michael and Frank only just managing to avoid the spill. Michael got around clean while Frank was caught in crash but stayed on his board. Michael lead the way barely able to contain his excitement as he launched onto victory with Frank taking second. Adam and Graham quickly got on their boards and raced to the finish with Adam taking third and Graham fourth. A fantastic weekend was had by all and everyone is looking forward to the coming years with confirmation that Newtons Nation has been renewed for another 3 years. Massive thanks to Ben Perry and the Newtons Nation crew for organising this great event. Big thanks to the sponsors, to ASRA, and the other volunteers for all their efforts trackside, keeping things running smoothly."
Photos by Tyler Johnson, Leah Bayin & Beth Thomson Newton.