Red Bull X-Alps 2011: The race Hots Up

Maurer has just over 200 km to go before he reaches the goal

Day 7 of the Red Bull X-Alps dawned with the news that race leader Christian Maurer had been served with a 24-hour time penalty. During the night, the race committee ran a detailed analysis of Maurer’s track logs, which should that he had entered a forbidden zone near Locano airport by a few metres: enough to incur a penalty and athletes rushed to close down the massive margin Maurer had built yesterday.

advertisement

Toma Coconea (ROM) had taken the Piz Palu turnpoint and led the charge, with a squad of northern European athletes behind him: Gebert (GER), Van Schelven (NED), De Dordolot (BEL), Chambers (GBR2) and Makkonen (FIN). However, pouring rain and low cloudbase hampered their efforts to fly, so they caught up the only way possible, slogging it out on foot.

Maurer travelled over 213 km – nearly a quarter of the entire course distance. He launched at 3250 m from Monte Cevedale at dawn, and kept going until after 1900hrs, finally landing near Zermatt. Supporters around the world watched his every turn and move through Live Tracking.

advertisement

This gave Maurer a 175 km lead by the time athletes awoke at 0400 this morning to launch their counter-attack. Team SUI1 were relaxed about their penalty, though. “A 24 hour rest after such an exhausting last week could actually do us a lot of good”, said supporter Theurillat. At present, Maurer maintains a 150 km lead. The race continues with 23 athletes still in the competition.

Maurer Bags Matterhorn, Five More Athletes Reach Piz Palü

Day 8, and race leader Christian Maurer bagged his sixth turnpoint: the Matterhorn. With strong winds blowing from the north-west, Maurer took off from a sheltered spot and flew out of the valley. After 30km, he landed on Raron airstrip, a sailplane field near Visp. He came down vertically into winds gusting up to 50 km/h. “At times I was climbing at 2500 ft a minute,” he reported.

advertisement

A pilot at the sailplane club came out to greet him, and said, “we’ve closed the field today – it’s too windy even for sailplanes!” Behind him, five other athletes have now rounded Piz Palu. Coconea is in second place, and continues to work hard at trying to close the margins.

There’s a big battle for third place. The Belgian and Dutch athletes showed their tactical prowess as they flew short flights this morning in inclement weather and a moderate north-westerly headwind. At present, De Dorlodot is in third place.

Further back, athletes are struggling to make the fifth turnpoint. As the last athlete in the field, Matsayuki Matsubara (JPN2) was eliminated this morning – the next back-ender gets eliminated at 0700 hrs on July 26th.

advertisement

200 km to Go

“I’ll make Mt Blanc by 2 or 3 pm”, predicted race leader Christian Maurer yesterday. However, he had crossed the border into France this morning by 11 am and soared his way down the Chamonix Valley to round Mt Blanc, the seventh of the Red Bull X-Alps turnpoints, by midday.

advertisement

Not far behind, Toma Coconea was also making good progress, busting into Switzerland and taking turnpoint six, the Matterhorn. A really tight race is emerging for third spot. Tom De Dorlodot, who held third position yesterday, snookered himself this morning by staying in the valley hiking while his rivals got up high for early flights. Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED), Martin Muller (SUI3) and Jon Chambers overtook De Dorlodot, but it is Paul Guschlbauer (AUT4) who is pushing hardest and currently in third. He is 35 km behind second placed Coconea.

Further back, Martin Romero (ARG) landed in a tree this afternoon. He is unharmed, fit and well, but his glider has been damaged to such extent Romero has decided to end the race. This puts real pressure on Carter (RSA). The South African was ill two nights ago and his performance has suffered.  He has stated it is his goal to not be eliminated before the race ends, yet he is currently in last place, and the next elimination takes place tomorrow at 0700 hrs.

Further back, Martin Romero (ARG) landed in a tree this afternoon. He is unharmed, fit and well, but his glider has been damaged to such extent Romero has decided to end the race. This puts real pressure on Carter (RSA). The South African was ill two nights ago and his performance has suffered.  He has stated it is his goal to not be eliminated before the race ends, yet he is currently in last place, and the next elimination takes place tomorrow at 0700 hrs.

advertisement

advertisement