The second weekend of Crankworx Rotorua has officially kicked off, and tonight’s Pump Track Challenge Presented by Torpedo7 was one for the books.
Nestled into the base of Skyline Rotorua, the pump track has been designed to be a perfect stadium for spectating, walled with crowds cheering on the exciting head-to-head racing.
Freshly reshaped, this tight and technical pump track makes for one of the most unforgiving tracks on the Crankworx World Tour. Featuring an updated stall wall that would ultimately prove to be the difference maker. The racing was as tight as the track itself, and the crowd was absolutely loving it.
The loudest cheers from the crowd arguably came from the gold medal match-up between the 2022 Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge winner Niels Bensink versus the Rotorua local, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene. Bensink put down a heater of a first run in the match-up, with a 0.078 second advantage. Pene was able to claw back enough time in the final run by gapping the stall wall to win by 0.100 seconds, take home the gold and win over the hearts of the Rotorua locals.
“I felt all good, just felt chill,” Pene said of his winning run. ”I love riding underneath lights like this, it just amps the mood up a bit. It was pretty mean!”
“Honestly super stoked and proud of getting second place today,” Bensink said of his podium result. “I think I left it all on the line and we were pushing so hard. The battles were super tight, so it was anyone’s game today and Tuhoto sent it, which rewarded him in the end.”
The Crankworx Cairns Pump Track Champion, Jayce Cunning took home the bronze for Elite Men after a tight battle against the King of Crankworx, Bas van Steenbergen.
The reigning Queen of Crankworx, Caroline Buchanan, keeps her gold medal hot streak going winning the gold medal for Elite Women at the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge Presented by Torpedo7. It was a tight match-up between Buchanan and Kialani Hines. Buchanan absolutely smashed through the start with her flawless gate technique, carrying that momentum through to get the W by 0.841 seconds.
“It’s honestly just believing in yourself and by those final rounds you’ve just got to embrace the crowd,” Buchanan said when asked how she was able to step it up for the second lap. “They were rowdy so how can you not step up and elevate. Those are the moments where you just elevate your lap times.”
“It’s so good to have Kialani back,” The Queen continues. “We’ve battled here many a times before and it always comes down to whoever wants is more on the day. We’re almost identical riders and it’s good to battle it out in Rotorua!”
“The course is really technical, and I think my qualifying run made me more nervous, but in a way a good thing to push myself,” Kialani Hines said of her return to the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track. “I just wasn’t riding at the pace that everyone else was riding. I think I kind of needed that reality check and then put it down when it mattered.”
Local Kiwi, Jessie Smith took home the bronze medal for Elite Women. Another crowd favourite, with spectators cheering out in excitement to see another local on the pro pump track podium.
Results – Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by Torpedo7
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (NZL) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
Niels Bensink (NED) // Kialani Hines (USA)
Jayce Cunning (AUS) // Jessie Smith (NZL)
Full results: crankworx.com/results/