Matt Smith Rcing – Regional Number 3 & National Number 2 report
Another installment of the regular Matt Smith Racing reports, this time round he covers the SA National cup #2 and some superbike action…
Downs and Ups
It’s been a strange time of year for Matt Smith in his racing. After showing dominant form in the early season with back to back regional wins and a win at Round number one in the National Points Series it was down to PE for the second leg of the Championships.
Matt was fortunate enough to get down the week before the event to check out the track whilst down there on business and was raving about the track on return.
“It’s a mint track! Pretty old school in a way cos it’s nice and steep with good flow and super skinny. My bars were hitting both sides of the track on some places. It’s nice to have seen to track to know what bike set-up and tyres to run. It was bone dry and holding nicely. Proper hot down there so hopefully it stays that way but I think the track will get harder to faster on as there’s no margin for error with it being so tight.”
Unfortunately weather played a major part in the run up to the event. Bad weather had descended on PE and the surrounding area during the week after Matt had flown home. The weather stayed and turned the pristine, well groomed track into a muddy swamp. The weather got so bad through the weekend that the entire event was cancelled on the Sunday morning of the race and the riders sent home.
“To be honest I don’t know what to say about this one. The track was ride-able but the event organizers pulled it due to ‘safety reasons’. Seems like we’re taking a beating due to weather this year, it’s like racing back in the UK again! To travel all the way down here and get told to go home with no points is gutting. Sure I’m still leading on points but I could have taken a load more hear and pulled clear of my competition going into round three”.
That event was at the beginning of May and since then Matt has busied himself with hard work and training. He even competed in Regional Super bikes at the famous Phakisa raceway in Welkom. If anything, his high speed cornering and bottle would get even better from the high speeds of the circuit.
“The Super bikes was awesome. I got offered a guest ride by a good mate of mine Richard Carmody (Ric the Racer) who had a spare bike for me too race and was proper happy with my times on a foreign bike and a track I’d
only ridden a 250cc and 600cc on before. I know it sounds weird but the whole Super bike thing really helps me with my Downhill racing. I polish my game on the whole high speed thing but also learn and practice entry and exit spots. I was pretty angry with the whole PE deal so it was nice to blow off some steam and get some aggression out on the track”.
Matt Smith qualified 23rd out of 62 riders and went on to place 20th overall for the day with a fastest lap time of 1;50. The race winner posted a 1;46
After a weird month it was back to business again. Round three of the GAS Regional Series was to be held at the historic venue of Galoolies farm in Joburg. The track hasn’t been raced on in over three years so the GAS team put some big work onto getting the hill ready to race again. One of the steepest track not only in Gauteng but in the country to track is just a roller coaster of steep rocky shoots that meander down the super steep 2 km track. Matt has some happy history on this track so was in good spirits heading in.
“This was the venue for my National come-back race a few years back. I’d been out of the game for a while and had moved back here from the UK. I hit a few regional before they held the National here and had got a good feel for the place. Steep is not the word for this track. After the halfway mark you’re pretty much hanging on a praying you’ve got the skills and fitness to hang on till the finish. There’s a section called the gauntlet that is like a vertical
cliff which marks the middle point on the track and if you clean that then you’re golden. I stomped a second at that National in the Sub-Vets and took a ninth place overall that day. It was a sweet one and I’ve been pinning hard since then.
The track this year seems to be running a lot better since the GAS guys put the work in. The top section is where I can lay down some horse-power so I’ll attack up top and ride sensible down the bottom. There’s a national in a weeks time so I don’t want to spank myself on a rock when I’m leading points”.
Matts first run looked good and he had set the fastest split coming out of the gauntlet into the bottom section. Unbeknownst to Matt one of the riders had crashed hard near the bottom and could not be moved. Matts run was haulted within seconds of the finish line.
“I was on one! The run had come together perfect. I slayed the top section and felt really good through the gauntlet and the whole set of switch-backs and drops at the bottom. I literally had two more jumps to go and I got stopped. I could see the finish. My thoughts quickly turned to the downed rider though as I saw one of the top Veterans( Neil Evans) was man down. He’d gone over the bars on the big rock drop and had head injuries. It’s horrible when you see another rider so badly injured and reminds us of the risks we’re taking.”
No time logged saw a tired and frustrated Matt head back up to tame the Galoolies beast once again.
He did what he needed to do and put a clean and calculated run together to nail down a solid 1;50 which ended up being a full 11 seconds ahead of his closest rival and put him in fourth place overall.
“I guess I can’t complain about that. I had another good top section but I could definitely feel I didn’t have a lot left in the bottom section and the beating I took from the track in the first run was there in my arms and legs. I feel like the first run would have been faster but we’ll never know. I’m enjoying my form at the moment and these results inspire me to keep training hard. To run so close to the top Pro-Elites has been my goal this year and this was the first time this year that I’ve finished outside the top three overall in the regional. It’s nice to be heading down to KZN with another win under my belt so I’m feeling confident for that race and the Championship. I’m still in it to win it!”.
Matt Smith has now taken three straight wins in the GAS Regional Series and heads to Round Three of the National Points Series leading the Championship.
Big- up to Team Mate Ryan Frerichs for taking his first Pro-Elite win. Congrats Bud J.
Matt Smith Racing would like to thank all the Sponsors for a sweet 2011 Season so far
Mongoose Bikes, Omnico, Ryder, Match Insurance, KTM Motorcycles, Thor MX, Von Zipper, Liqui Moly, Mikes Bikes in Greenside, Frerichs Customs, Cycles Africa/RaceFace, DC Shoes, Titanium, Leatt braces.
Shout out to all the Motorsport Dudes and Dudettes who came out to shout and support on the hill. Great Vibe, Thanks.
Rick, thanks for the Superbike ride man. You rock!!