By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Fabien Barel’s breakout season rolled on at NORBA National No. 4 at Mammoth Mountain in California. The 20-year-old Frenchman bombed his way down the loose dirt of the new 1.7-mile “Bullet” downhill, just nipping Global Racing’s Mick Hannah by .92 seconds. Barel (GT) was the only rider to post a sub four-minute time, stopping the clock in 3:59.24.
Greg Minnaar (Global Racing), Mickael Pascal (Be One), and John Kirkaldie (Maxxis) completed the podium places.
“I tried to go easy at the top because it’s flatter at the bottom and I knew I’d need maximum energy,” said Barel, who is leading the World Cup series and was the winner at stop No. 3 at Grouse Mountain.
In the overall standings Aussie Chris Kovarik held onto the top spot, despite his absence from the race at Mammoth. Kovarik ran into visa problems after the World Cup in Canada and had to return home while a new visa application was processed. The NORBA series allows riders to drop their worst result in the first four races.
Also missing Sunday was Barel’s teammate Steve Peat. Peat separated his shoulder during a training run at Grouse Mountain and is hoping to return for the next World Cup race, July 28-29 in Arai, Japan.
Kirkaldie, Barel, Nathan Rennie (Yeti-Pearl Izumi), and Nathan Rankin (Foes-Azonic) complete the top five in the NORBA downhill standings. The top American is Foes-Azonic rider Todd LeDuc, who sits seventh, three spots ahead of defending NORBA and national champion Eric Carter (Mongoose-Hyundai). LeDuc finished 14th Sunday, while Carter was 16th.
In the women’s race the colors at the top of the podium were reversed, with Missy Giove (Global Racing) taking the top spot, followed by GT’s Katja Repo. Giove made her run from the top of the Canyon Lodge chairlift in 4:36.43, .65 quicker than Repo. It was Giove’s third straight NORBA downhill win this year.
“On a course like this you just try to keep your speed and minimize your mistakes,” said Giove about the constantly changing track. “I almost lost it a few times, and I probably could have gone faster, but I guess I didn’t need to.”
In her last appearance at Mammoth, the soon-to-retire Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) took third, while Marla Streb (Foes-Azonic) and the 19-year-old Danni Connolly (Karpiel) were fourth and fifth.
In the overall standings defending NORBA and national champion Giove has a commanding lead over Donovan, with Streb, Elke Brutsaert (Schwinn) and April Lawyer (Maxxis) in the 3-through-5 spots.
CHEVY TRUCKS NORBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, Mammoth Mountain, CA. July 20-22.; Downhill; Men; 1. Fabien Barel (F), GT, 3:59.24; 2. Mick Hannah (Aus), Global Racing, at .92; 3. Greg Minnaar (SA), Global Racing, at 3.96; 4. Mickael Pascal (F), Be One, at 6.00; 5. John Kirkaldie (Nz), Maxxis, at 7.69; 6. Nathan Rennie (Aus), Yeti-Pear Izumi, at 7.99; 7. Joel Panozzo (Aus), SunRace-Santa Cruz, at 8.48; 8. Michael Ronning (Aus), Intense, at 8:52; 9. Rich Houseman, Tomac, at 8.95; 10. Sean McCarroll (Aus), Global Racing, at 9.46; Other North Americans; 12. Kirt Voreis, Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 9.72; 14. Todd LeDuc, Foes-Azonic, at 11:89; 16. Eric Carter, Mongoose-Hyundai, at 12.28; 29. Myles Rockwell, Giant, at 18.47; Women; 1. Missy Giove, Global Racing, 4:36.43; 2. Katja Repo (Fin), GT, at .65; 3. Leigh Donovan, Schwinn, at 5.64; 4. Marla Streb, Foes-Azonic, at 8.35; 5. Danni Connolly, Karpiel, at 11.62; 6. Melissa Buhl, ODI-KHS, at 12.62; 7. April Lawyer, Maxxis, at 13.17; 8. Elke Brutsaert, Schwinn, at 13.42; 9. Kathy Pruitt, Dirtworks, at 13.45; 10. Tara Llanes, Yeti-Pearl Izumi, at 14.19; Overall standings through 4 of 5 events; (worst score has been dropped); Men; 1. Kovarik, 504 points; 2. Kirkaldie, 470; 3. Barel, 462; 4. Rennie, 452; 5. Rankin, 440; 6. Rando, 434; 7. LeDuc, 422; 8. Ronning, 410; 9. Peat, 400; 10. Carter, 400; Women; 1. Giove, 600 points; 2. Donovan, 534; 3. Streb, 528; 4. Brutsaert, 476; 5. Lawyer, 474; 6. Llanes, 446; 7. Pruitt, 444; 8. Connolly, 442; 9. Buhl, 410; 10. Quin, 390