- by Cycling Australia
- Published: 13 October 2009
South Australian teenager, Sam Willoughby has taken out the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series after claiming victory in the fourth and final round in Fr?jus, France.
It was the second series round win for the 2008 and 2009 Junior World Champion who also won in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in August and was second in the third round last month in America. But things didn’t run smoothly for the 18 year old who finished only seventeenth in Friday’s time trials. He also had a rough start in the first round on Saturday scraping into the quarter finals by one point. But from then on the young Australian was on fire winning every race.
“I had a real rough start of the day,: said Willoughby who went into the final round with a narrow series lead. “The pressure was on but I managed to pull my head back in and refocus on the job at hand.
“I learnt a lot today,” he said. “Our approach for this year was to focus on the World Cup events and the World Championships and that worked out really good.”
In the men’s final Willoughby was up against some fierce competition. Maris Strombergs from Latvia, the current Olympic Champion and winner of the previous round in Chula Vista, was in lane four and was keen to win. But the current elite men’s World Champion Donny Robinson from the USA also looked in good shape winning all his motos in the three heats of the first round.
But Willoughby outperformed all. He charged out of the gate in the final leading from start to finish. Willoughby battled it out with Strombergs on the first straight and was leading going into the first turn. Robinson challenged in the final straight but Willoughby proved too strong. Robinson placed second and Argentinian Christian Becerine was third. West Australia’s Khalen Young, 24, finished seventh in the final while South Australia’s Brian Kirkham, 23, was knocked out in the first round.
“For the final I wanted the inside lane and used that to my advantage, Maris and I fought it out on the first straight and it was a drag race to the finish,” Willoughby explained. “It is a privilege to race against such formidable competition.
“Great to win here and to be the 2009 overall season winner.”
Willougby ended up on 672 points, 158 points clear of second ranked Ivo Van Der Putten of the Netherlands (514 points) with Robinson third in the Series standings on 479 points.
In the women’s final Frenchwoman La?titia Le Corguill?, second fastest qualifier, conceded the lane pick to Colombian Mariana Pajon who led until the last straight. But with the finish in sight Pajon was overhauled by a determined Le Corguill?. The experienced French rider, who also won the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, beat the Junior World Champion on the line in an extremely close finish. Third place went to Arielle Martin of the USA. Canberra’s Caroline Buchanan, 18, and WA’s Lauren Reynolds, 18, both contested the final with Buchanan placing fifth and Reynolds sixth.
Le Corguill? won the series crown with 660 points while Buchanan ended the series ranked sixth with 420 points and Reynolds seventh with 405 points. Queensland’s Rachel Bracken, 18, went out in the semi-final to finish the season ranked tenth in the Supercross Series rankings.
source: Cycling Australia
photo: UCI BMX/Getty Images/Michael Steele