Saturday Jun 07, 2014

INTERVIEW: Greg Minnaar targeting top step at 100th World Cup race

Greg Minnaar is going all out to win on his 100th World Cup appearance in Fort William – but has conceded the overall title may now be out of his reach.

The South African had an excellent start to the season following a knee operation, finishing third at his home race in Pietermaritzburg.

But disaster struck in Round 2 at a wet and muddy race in Cairns, Australia when the 32-year-old crashed and, due to a recent rule change, was disqualified for not returning to the track in the correct place.

The DQ has likely dashed Minnaar’s hopes of a fourth World Cup title as he now sits 11th in the overall standings.

However, with four wins in Fort William during a glittering downhill career Minnaar believes standing atop the podium again could be the perfect tonic for his bad luck in Cairns.  

Fort William is deffinitely a place I'd like to get a good result

“I started off really well,” said Minnaar, who placed 11th in qualifying at Fort William on Saturday. “I was only riding a bike for a couple of weeks before I raced in South Africa and I had a great result.

“I was really happy with the way things were going but I went off the track in Australia. I don’t think I’ve got a chance now.

“I’d need a lot of bad luck for the other riders for me to place anywhere. But I’ve just got to keep going and I’m enjoying the racing.

“This is definitely a place where I’d like to get a good result. I don’t think it can bring me back in contention but race wins would be nice.”

 Mick Hannah, Aaron Gwin and Gregg Minnaar on the Round 1 podium 

Minnaar knows exactly what it takes to win at the Fort William World Cup, which is considered by many to be the hardest track on the tour.

The Santa Cruz Syndicate rider has won more than any other man since the first event back in 2002, and only women’s rider Tracy Moseley has more with five titles.

And with his teammates also performing well this year – Josh Bryceland is 5th overall thanks to a second place finish in Cairns, where Steve Peat came 7th – there are plenty of places to look for added motivation.  

I need a couple of race wins to catch Steve Peat!

“It’s hard to motivate yourself knowing you are racing towards nothing really but the race wins would be good and I need a couple to catch Steve Peat,” added Minnaar who is one behind the Brit on 16 victories.

“Josh is riding amazingly well and Steve was 7th in Cairns so Syndicate is firing and hopefully we can get all three of us on the podium here.

“Fort William takes a solid run. It’s a long track so you’ve got to be good on every corner up top, powering out of it.

“You need strength in the middle and then the fitness at the bottom so it’s a track where you need to put it all together and push it hard all the way to the line. It’s definitely one of the harder tracks.”

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