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​A couple of weeks ago we took a look at the correlation between timed practice performance and race results, which showed there to be more of a link than most people would initially think. This time, we're checking out an entirely different equation, and one that might just help you win big in Vital's OTB comp: qualifying versus race performance. With points on the line, riders will throw down fast runs in qualifying, but just how close to the edge will they go? As a general rule, the actual race runs are obviously faster still, but we wanted to find out more, so we dug into the numbers to see what the real story is.

2012 - 2015 World Cup Qualifying Analysis


If You Win Qualifying, You're Headed To the Podium

A bit of a generalisation perhaps, but 73% is a pretty good chance. What's more, if you win qualifying, you have a 50% of actually winning the race. On average, if you discount the 2 mishaps by Marc Beaumont and Loic Bruni, you'll end up no worse than 3rd.

Troy Brosnan did the double at Fort William in 2014 - photo Duncan Philpott.

Top 5 Qualifiers Win the Race

Looking through the 26 races that make up the last 4 seasons of World Cup DH racing (with one more race to go in 2015), 85% of the race winners qualified in the top-5, with 96% actually qualifying top-6. Only Gwin's DSQ from Lourdes earlier this year stands out as the real exception to the rule. So if you're looking for the Val di Sole race winner, look no further than to the top-6 qualifiers to narrow down your choices. History tells us there will be no surprises here.

Thirion went 4 better than his quali placement to win on race day in Andorra in 2013, can he repeat in 2015 with the rainbow stripes on the line? - photo Sven Martin.

How Much Faster Do They Go in the Race?

Here it is, the stat that's gonna help you rule Vital OTB. On average, the winning race runs are 3.6 seconds faster than the winning time from qualifying. As a percentage, the winning rider takes 1.64% off the fastest qualifier (they are not always the same rider of course). And for as much as we like to complain about World Cup weather, race runs have been slower than quali runs only 3 times over the last 4 seasons.

Sam Hill went 9-seconds faster than Josh Bryceland's fastest qualifier to claim the 2014 MSA win - photo @maddogboris.

Who Improved the Most On the Winning Qualifying Time?

If you discount the The Great Cairns Monsoon Carnage, Brook MacDonald's 3.68% over Cam Cole's fastest qualifier in Val d'Isere in 2012 stands as the single biggest quali-to-race improvement, followed closely by Sam Hill's 3.47%, 9-seconds-faster run of Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2014. Gwin went 3.11% faster than his own fastest qualifier when he won Val di Sole in 2012 - is that the real indicator of what will unfold this weekend when the World Cup makes its final stop for 2015 at this hallowed hill in Italy? Time will it always does.

Brook MacDonald took his first World Cup win at Val d'Isere in 2012, also posting the biggest quali-race % improvement at the same time - photo Hoshi Yoshida.

Bonus Stat - So Who Wins These Things Anyway?

There have been only 9 World Cup winners since the start of the 2012 season. Aaron Gwin reigns supreme with 8 wins (from 26), followed by Stevie Smith with 4. Gee, Greg, and Josh have 3 each, while Sam Hill stands on 2. Brook MacDonald, Remi Thirion, and Troy Brosnan earned their entry to this exclusive club with 1 win a piece - tune in this weekend to find out who will add to their tally or join the club as a first time winner!

Gwin is 8 for 26 over the last 4 seasons, including this 8-second demolition job at Val di Sole in 2012 - photo Sven Martin.

For more Stat Attack geekery, check out our Timed Practice Analysis from earlier in the month.

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