Sam Willoughby checks out Shepparton
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 19 December 2009
World Cup Supercross winner, Sam Willoughby from South Australia , christened Australia’s biggest BMX track yesterday in Shepparton, central Victoria. The 18 year old rode on the country’s first international track built by the Olympic track builder, Tom Ritzenthauler from the USA. Willoughby was impressed to see the transformations done with a massive 12,000 cubic metres of dirt changed into a 375 metre track which includes two technical pro straights for the elite.
“I liked the long first straight and the start hill reminded me a lot of China (World Championships 2008),” said Willoughby. “I like the long first straight that you can peddle over. Really like the look of the third straight, there wasn’t a rolling option. Tom’s done a great elite rhythm section. It’s like taking the dirt jumping aspect. It won’t be the fastest that will win on that one.”
Ritzenthauler and crew built the Shepparton track in just ten day and he agrees that Australia is ready for this standard of track.
“Australia has some top BMX riders like Sam and this track will lift the standard,” he said. “It will benefit the area. I think it will be a great location for teams to practice on,” said Ritzenthauler. “We used a bit of China’s worlds and a bit of Adelaide’s worlds. The turns are the same as I had in Beijing. It’s got little bits of everything. I never build the same track twice.”
A keen group of Shepparton’s BMX riders turned up for the first try out. For local rider, 18 year old Shaun Cuthbert, it was a dramatic change.
“We have never experienced jumps like this,” he said. “We will be able to get to World Championships and know we can jump it. This is awesome to get someone like Sam over to check it out. Hopefully he’ll come back to race on it.”
Ritzenthauler praised the local track crew and was also impressed by a bit of help and from Australia’s track builder, Jeff Cartwright. “He’s great. We got to trade some secrets that was fun,” said Ritzenthauler.
The track will host the 2010 National BMX Championships in early May.