MTB > 2006 UCI Round 05: Brazil > Race Results
MTBBrazilJuly 2, 2006
2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 05: Brazil

Matti Lehikoinen Wins World Cup in Brazil

Matti Lehikoinen of Team G Cross Honda won his first ever World Cup Downhill race, and the first for the team this season, in a thrilling race at Camboriu Beach in Brazil. The spectacular course of 1.4km in the tropical jungle, beachside in southern Brazil, proved to be ideal for Matti, and very unlucky for his team mate Greg Minnaar, who punctured while on track for a top result. Matti, who has never been on a World Cup podium, despite many near misses, took to the top step and sang the words of his national anthem in front of a huge and enthusiastic Brazilian crowd.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

However it was a disappointing end to Greg's day after doing all that was necessary to keep the World Cup chase alive, finishing 3rd in the semi finals, and having the fastest intermediate time in the final; it was a sliced rear tyre in the final half of the course that caused a crash, and a subsequent 23rd place.

Early training on Friday saw slightly wet conditions, but the weather got better through the weekend and resulted in a perfectly dry day for the finals. In practice both Greg and Matti trained well, and despite hitting a tree hard on Saturday, Matti was confident he had the lines to get himself onto a podium, as he scored the 2nd fastest time in timed training, just 1/10 behind Peat. In the semi finals Greg's tactic was to once again score as many points as possible. He conceded 10 points to series leader, Steve Peat (GBR), but this was not considered a major concern on the overall points scheme. Matti put in a solid run but had more to come. His 6th place in the semis had him poised for a podium debut in the finals.

In the final Matti hit the intermediate point with the fastest time by two seconds, 1m 43.96secs, and took the hot seat as the race leader. Five more riders were to come and this turned out to be a very nerve wracking 10 minutes for the 22 year old from Espoo. First down was Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant) with a time of 2m 22.12secs, nearly 3 seconds slower than Matti. Next was Mick Hannah, winner of Round 1 in Vigo, and his intermediate time was dangerously close, but in the end, Mick was 1.5 secs back, and now Matti was looking at a possible top 3. Next was team mate Greg Minnaar, and his split was fastest at some 0.4secs faster than Matti. The crowd fell silent until Greg appeared on the giant screen, but soon after appearing on screen, he crashed. It was later obvious that he had a rear flat, his first ever in competition. Greg congratulated Matti in the hot seat as he waited to see if the other big names in the sport would dislodge him. Steve Peat came closest, just 9/100ths of a second slower. By then Matti was literally shaking. Could his first ever podium be a win? The final rider, Sam Hill (AUS), had the intermediate time of 1m 42.74secs, faster than Matti, but Matti wasn't ready to give up the seat yet as Matti's bottom half had been perfect. The crowd gasped as Sam Hill crashed in view of the finish area and Matti knew he had the win, an historic first ever male victory for Finland.

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (1st Place)
"I really can't believe this, it's like a dream. I had a great run, I really lifted my speed, and I thought I'd done enough to get on the podium. I honestly didn't imagine this, I am so stoked. This is my 31st World Cup and I have been trying for so long. I'm not slow, I know I can do this, and today it all just came together. It's an amazing feeling and I'm very happy for my team, my mechanic Mark, and the whole Honda Racing crew. To win in Brazil is perfect, it's the next best thing to a home win because the people here are so supportive, that's why I took the Brazilian flag to the podium, to say thanks for all the support."

#1 Greg Minnaar (23rd Place)
"This is totally disappointing and frustrating. I have never had a puncture in a final in my whole career and it happens today, in the most important race of the year for the points chase. We've done everything right to chase down the title and to have something as simple as this happen well that's racing I guess, but it is hard. Of course I'm super happy for Matti. He's worked so hard for this and I'm stoked he could take the win for the team today."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"A very emotional day. I have worked with Matti since his first World Cup in 2001 and have always believed in him, even through the tough results, but today he has shown everyone that he is a champion in the making. On the flip side I'm very sorry for Greg who has really got past the crash in Vigo and had such momentum in the past few races, really doing everything right. He's still in 2nd place overall and he will fight to the end, but it's obviously a tough day for him. The World Championships are next month and that will be a new objective and challenge for 2006."

2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 05: Brazil

Semi Final Results:
1 Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
2 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4 Mick Hannah (Cannondale/The Cut)
5 Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
6 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
Semi Final Results:
1 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Mick Hannah (Cannondale/The Cut)
4 Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
5 Marc Beaumont (Team MBUK Santa Cruz)
6 Markolf Berchtold (Maxxis-MSC)
7 Bryn Atkinson (Team GT)
8 Cedric Gracia (Team Commencal)
9 Julien Camellini (France)
10 Andrew Neethling (Mongoose Hyundai)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· MTB - UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
· Brazil

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