Just one week after not having been selected for Switzerland’s Olympic BMX team, Onza Tires’ team rider David Graf lined up for the final race of the "4X Pro Tour" in Willingen. The Swiss rider was a strong second in qualifying, and when all the races had been ridden he had beaten them all. Graf’s team-mate Quentin Derbier could follow into the semifinals before finishing in eighth.
For the finals of the inaugural "4X Pro Tour", the organizers had found a worthy setting: It was one of the highlights at the "Wheels of Speed" festival in Willingen, Germany. One look at the qualifying result showed that all of fourcross’ big names were there to compete. David Graf was second in qualifying, a scant 5 hundredths of a second behind Joost Wichman and trailed closely by the strong Czech trio of Tomas Slavik, Jakub Riha and Michal Prokop. Thus Graf knew right from the start that an excellent result was within reach. Quentin Derbier showed a strong qualifying as well, positioning himself in seventh.
"As there were hardly any sharp-edged rocks or rough sections on Willingen’s course, I mounted Onza Tires’ Ibex XC in 2 inches width both up front and in the back", Graf commented on his choice of tires for the final race of the series. "That choice was spot-on as I could fully rely on the tires delivering plenty of traction both in qualifying and throughout my race runs." Well-functioning equipment was necessary as Graf and Derbier had to ride against Czech Tomas Slavik in their semifinal run. Graf managed to win the heat after a tough fight, whereas Derbier crashed after having touched Slavik’s rear wheel.
In the small final Derbier struggled to get back to his top speed, so he ended up in eighth position both at Willingen’s finals and in the series’ overall standings. Not too bad considering the fact that Derbier had missed out on the two first races of the "4X Pro Tour" due to an injury. David Graf fared way better, however. "After the semifinal I knew that another tough fight against Slavik was waiting, but I also knew that a win was within reach. And of course Joost Wichman was in the big final as well, and he had posted the fastest time in qualifying. So I realized right from the start that this would not be a leisurely stroll in the park and that I had to give it everything to have a chance for the victory."
And giving it everything was exactly what Graf did: From the moment the gate dropped, he battled it out with Tomas Slavik by hook or crook, including some handlebar touches. Joost Wichman made good use of this fight, slipping into the lead. "I kept in touch with Wichman and really had to give it all, going to the very limits, as I knew perfectly well that the last corner offered a fair opportunity to pass. That’s exactly what I did, and it worked out. Winning my first fourcross race of the season certainly does well. And it’s also a bit of a solace after narrowly missing out on competing at the Olympic BMX race."