Kai and Saya steal the show in Round One of the National Series
A pair of contrasting victories highlighted the elite finals in the opening round of the 2018 BMX Australia National Series with siblings Kai and Saya Sakakibara stealing the spotlight at Penrith BMX Club.
On a day where track temperatures reached a scorching 37 degrees, 600 riders competed across almost 50 classes, with the Sakakibara’s the pick of the bunch.
All day, Saya, 18, was unstoppable, winning every one of her motos convincingly, but the final of the senior elite event was where she laid it all out and proved that she is a force to be reckoned with.
“I got a good gate out and my second straight went a bit sideways but I managed to keep my momentum,” Saya said.
“I was really happy with the third straight and I think that it was the best I’ve done all day.”
In what was the day’s most dominant start to finish victory, Saya beat home Sara Jones and Gemma-Lee Thomas before turning her attention to watching her brother in action.
On the other side of the Sakakibara spectrum, Kai was up and down all day before snatching second place in his semi to enter the final as one of the favourites.
It was there the elder Sakakibara put in one of the best comebacks on a BMX track you would ever see.
After trailing from the get go off the gate, Kai put into place his rhythm and plan as he battled to regain his position in the pack. Coming into the first berm, Sakakibara saw his rivals piling up and managed to squeeze into a fourth position.
But on the pro section – the section with the biggest jumps and highest risk for riders – disaster struck for leader Joshua Mclean who crashed out, taking another competitor with him.
This gave Sakakibara the opportunity to sneak into the second and set up a last straight battle with Max Cairns.
“Max and I have been battling it out since we were very young,” Kai said.
“Ever since the mighty 11’s we have been banging bars and it’s great to see him come back so well after his injury.”
This being his fourth year as a senior elite competitor, Kai thought that it would get easier but he says that there always seems to be a new young gun who joins the fray and it just keep’s getting tougher.
The pair will now set their sights on preparation for the UCI BMX Supercross world cup in France as they take on the best from around the globe.
Prior to heading to Europe, Saya is heading to the Australian Institute of Sport in the Gold Coast, where she will do some more training before heading overseas.
The junior elite classes also put on a spectacular show with some brilliant performances to wrap up a super day.
New Zealander Jesse Smith took the top spot in the junior women’s race ,while Izaac Kennedy had a flawless day winning all his races and wrapping the day up nicely with a strong finish in the finals.
For all the results over the weekend at Penrith CLICK HERE