Multiple world champions Brian Lopes (Oakley-Ibis) and Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) duked it out on a course designed by Eric Carter (Mongoose) for the Jeep 48Straight finals in San Luis Obispo, California October 24. Lopes won the race, while Carter claimed the overall series title.
This year's Jeep 48Straight finals brought out some of the world's top-ranked mountain bikers from all disciplines: Minnaar from Downhill, Adam Craig from cross-country, Kyle Strait, Cam ZInk and Cam McCaul from freestyle and Lopes from 4-Cross, with celebrity snow-boarder and former Specialized downhiller Shaun Palmer coming out for a cameo.
The course, nuzzled in the mountains at the Madonna Inn, proved effective in weeding out the true prospects during the qualifying run. Lopes demonstrated to be up for the challenge as he qualified with the fastest time, followed closely by series-point leader Cody Warren.
Warren, who was eliminated early on by Mike Harderer, as well as Petr Hanak, were two of the three potential series champions. This left Carter as the sole contender for the overall title.
Both Carter and Lopes eliminated their opponents, meeting up for the final round. With over 60 years of combined racing experience and a long-standing racing rivalry that dates back to BMX days, Lopes and Carter put on a good show for the fans and TV cameras alike. Lopes made the step-up jump look easy and Carter hammed it up for the crowds.
The end results proved mutually beneficial for the pair, as Lopes took the win for the race and Carter the overall. Melissa Buhl won the women's overall series.
1. Brian Lopes (Oakley/Ibis)
2. Eric Carter (Mongoose)
3. Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)