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By Andre Palmer
Mount Banyak, Batu, East Java Indonesia was the host for the 2010 Asia Pacific Downhill Challenge, held October 8-10. The Monster/Energy Specialized team was scheduled to race, so everyone came out in hopes of seeing the 2 newest World Champions in downhill. The Pros arrived on Friday and did the track walk, then decided not to do any practice runs. Saturday morning, the sky was dark and at 9 am the rain came down hard... none of the Pros had wet tires on. The one we all wanted to see, Sam Hill was able to get some intermediate Specialized Hillbilly tires put on and with one practice run in the heavy rain, he said, "it's like riding on an ice skating rink."
PhotoSeeding Runs
The seeding run for Elite was at 2pm and the everyone was committed to run without wet tires. Freeride guy, Thomas Vanderham, dropped in 1st, crashed few times and got 7th. Shaun O'Connor was next, crashed few times, but still put in a good run and got 3rd. Junior World Champ, Troy Brosnan was just pinning it hard on the 1st section. We'd never seen anyone rides like that in the wet on a dry tires on a steep terrain. His incredible run earned him 2nd place. World Champ, Sam Hill is the last man to go down and he looked in control until the 2nd jump on the 1st section, he went off sideways and crashed hard. Sam took his time to get back on the bike and still put in a good run, seeding 4th. Local boy "Popo" seeded in 1st, almost 10 seconds on Brosnan.
On finals day, the sun was out in the morning and the top half of the track dried up pretty quickly. but the last section in the woods was still slippery so tire choice was a bit of a gamble. Even though mud tires were found for all of the visiting Pro riders, they chose to remain on dry tires for their race runs.
    They did 2 runs in the morning to check on the track and bike set up. They seemed happy with everything and the race started at 1pm. Riders were putting down faster and faster times as the track dried up.
PhotoThomas Vanderham had a clean run with a 2.46.286 good enough for 6th place.
    5th place qualifier and local rider, "Pornomo" was flying on the top section but he made a few mistakes in the woods. He held on to 5th place with a 2.45.911.
    Sam Hill looking very smooth and we thought nothing can could stop him. He ran a 2.38.112 and got on the hot seat as the crowd went wild.
    Shaun O'connor couldn't better Sam's time. With an injured knee, he still put down a 2.43.572 for  3rd place.
    Junior World Champ, Troy Brosnan, looked very fast and nailed everything right, until the small drop into an off camber section in the woods. Brosnan came in too fast and went over bars, finishing 9th overall.
PhotoThe last man to come down is local ripper, "Popo" and the vibe is tense, as everyone remains silent until he shows up at the rock garden looking out of control. He flew off the rock drop sideways and the whole mountain screamed, "OH!" at the same time. Popo managed to keep it together pedaled like mad down that long straight into the woods.  I couldn't watch. He almost lost it in the corner at the bottom of that long straight, but again, he managed to pull it together. He crossed the line with a 2.33.770 to take the win. The whole mountain erupted and I even had tears running down my face LOL. Popo did it, he beat Sam Hill's time and no matter what people said about Hill not giving 100%, thats racing. Sam Hill said to us, "Popo ate my time, the boy is fast, I am surprised."
PhotoAfter the race we had an autograph session and the Specialized boys were amazed at how many fans they have over here. We had the mayor of Batu city giving out the prizes. He was very supportive and was there for all 3 days. He's also very proud to have the event held in his hometown.
PhotoWe flew to Bali the next day and had a blast with the visiting pros. Sam Hill was very talkative the whole trip, quite surprising haha. This was after few bottles of beer of course haha. We took the crew to Jimbaran for Seafood on the 1st day, then we took them to flea market for souvenir shopping. We saw a traditional Balinese cock fight, then off to Padang Padang beach to get  work on our tan, then party at Paddy's and Bounty at night. The last dinner was at the famous restaurant "Warung Made" and we all parted ways.

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