Chilippines today, business tomorrow

Track protection, Filipino style - rice bales
Track protection, Filipino style - rice bales

Tomorrow the action will start with timed qualifying at Veggie Hill, the twistiest track in Asia. It's narrow, with some insanely steep sections, a couple of short flat sections, pavement that goes from butter to chunder and back again, and it packs all this into a road lined with people, houses, shops, chickens and dogs, and a backdrop of blue ocean and deep green mountains. It's a unique stage for a unique event.

Patrick Switzer (Canada) has raced this track before and will start favourite. Local hero Dandoy looms as the big threat, and he has a grudge against this track - last year he broke his arm trying to grip the big lefty in an attempt to get the fastest qualifying time. Thrown into that mix is Max Ballesteros (Brazil) the current 2016 title race leader, and Riley Harris (Canada), plus a host of locals, and riders from China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Start line open for business, with Riley Harris and Leggy Coppleman lurking
Start line open for business, with Riley Harris and Leggy Coppleman lurking

Today the action was all behind the scenes. Bags of rice husks were laid in the corners for rider and spectator protection, and the start and finish lines were marked and prepared. Large marquees to provide shade from the relentless tropical heat were erected at the start line to provide relief for riders who will be sweating in their leathers over the next two days. The conditions are a fascinating mix of idyllic and harsh.