Podiums in PTA as the Stars Align for the SuperStars
Gauteng based DH team Mongoose Superstars are showing their metal with one man down and still bagging two podiums at the last SA National DH in Pretoria at Track 139. Team boss and rider Matt ‘Hollywood’ Smith gives us the dope on the team’s latest performance…
This is the event where the 2012 season started to make some sense for the Mongoose SuperStars.
After showing pure dominance at the first Regional race held at the Classic Helderkruin track it was obvious that the homework had been done by the team in the off season as they fired out of the blocks. The scene changed down in Cape Town as the team with hit by the Cape Town curse where the event held back the riders practice. Dave Hogan and Ryan Frerichs were working together perfectly and taming the hill but Matt Smith was battling with not enough track time. He would go on to place outside the top five for the first time in last four seasons of National competition when he knew he was in for form of his life. Disappointed was not a strong enough adjective to describe the Mongoose Sub Veteran reigning Champions mood after the race.
Hogan was coping but also felt limited by the lack of track time and practice at the poor show of first National event in CT. Ryan though was there to prove his result at the end of 2011 was no fluke and looked comfortable on the entire track and was on a flyer in his seeding run until disaster struck on the fishing table top. The young Pro was sent out the front door as he hit the wrong side of the table top as full speed and took a massive buck over the bars. The short story was a dislocated wrist but the long story after a second look was broken scaphoid which required two operations to repair and at least three months of the bike to heal properly.
One man down and the team needed to regroup. The next race was the second regional a month later on the Pretoria 139 track which would also host the next round of the National so would act as extra training to set Dave and Matt up for the big event. The remaining Mongoose SuperStars rode for their downed rider and kept Ryans spirits up with a win in Sub Vets and a strong second place in Pro Elites.
This result and event proved vital to the team’s preparation for the National and both riders identified areas to improve and set to training and setting up the Mongoose Bott’R’s specifically for this extremely testing track. Dave Hogan stepped up his cardio and power training and Matt kept himself strong with a lot of road work as more jumping to ‘man-up’ a bit more as he put it. By the time the National came round both riders knew the track backwards and as with the Cape Town race where the top of just about all the categories was filled with CT riders names, they were ready to represent for the team and for Gauteng with a strong home town advantage. Matt had this to say before the event:
“That first National was a joke! There’s no way we should have taken such a beating on that track and it’s time that the Capies learn to fear Gauteng riders again. We don’t have big mountains or hills to train on but we want it more and I for one want to hammer the point home. I’m in good shape and feel like I can hang the sprints out all the way. This track is deceptive you know. The first time you ride it you think it’s pretty easy once you’ve cleaned and hit all the obstacles but when you have to hammer out a race run it bites you hard on the lower section. I’m really glad we were able to race it as a regional and really did make all the difference. In that race I ran out of horsepower on the lower section after the Big tabletop so I’ve been working on my intervals and stretching them out further. I’m ready for this one!!! Wait till you see Dave though. He is like butter down this track and for sure the most stylish rider on the hill. He’s so quiet and clean and carrying much more speed now. We’ve work hard on Dave this year to make him more of a racer and screw his head on tight so he keeps it pind the whole way”.
A weekend of practice the weekend before the race weekend and clever practice building up to race-day Sunday set the SuperStars up with fresh legs and full of confidence.
Matt was the first to show how ready he was as he posted a clever seeding run as he openly admitted that he shut it down after the big jump so he could save his legs for his race run. Dave had been instructed to do the same as the rest of the National competitors were battling to breath up on the highveldt and sucking wind hard on the demanding track.
The strategy was spot on. In the race run Matt was first of the now two man team (till Ryan heals up) to hammer the run.
“I hit full gas straight away. We had the trainer up top so I knew I was warmed up and that with all the extra training I had it in my legs and lungs to hold it wide the whole way. I’ve never felt this confident heading into an event and I knew all the other sub vets were gunning for me. I had an amazing top section and almost over-jumped a few of the jumps just cos I was carrying so much into all the lips. I was still strong on the sprint into the big jump that makers the three quarter marker and promised myself I wouldn’t shut it down. I faught hard to keep my legs turning over in the energy sapping forrest section that has a small false rise in it and when I saw the finish straight I dug way deep. I had it in my legs to sprint into the rythme section and clean all my landings and made the awkward last kicker double. Once I was over that I just ripped the bars off! I remember screaming as I gave it everything that was left and crossed the line totally spent”
Matt was unable to take the win from Dirk Lourens who admitted that he made up a lot of time and took risks on the upper section because he knew Matt would be strong on the lower half but didn’t ever think it would be this close. The old rivals laughed it off as they talked about the almost insanely miniscule number that separated them. 00.00.12 was all that split the two riders who have raced against each other since the mid 90’s.
“Yes I would have liked to win but I don’t mind loosing to Dirk. He knows he got lucky and next time it’ll be me with the luck. The important thing is we beat Cape Town ….haha!!! I’m really glad that I could give a good performance. I was pretty spent in the last few sections and made a few little mistakes but nothing that really cost time ”
This moves Matt to 4th in points and just a few points adrift of the riders occupying the top three. Another top two position in the next round will move him right up there.
In the Pro Elites ‘Disco’ Dave Hogan was tagged as the man to watch and he didn’t disappoint. Matt had been tutoring him and preparing him for this event since the regional a full 5 weeks prior.
“Dave is just amazing to watch down this track. The way he has developed as a rider this year is just astounding. He absorbs information like a sponge and makes it work for him. I’ve never tried to change his style but we have talked a lot about bike set-up and how he approaches the races. He’s committed to the entire run now whereas in the past he used to just cruise a lot of sections. He’s jelled well with the Mongoose and the result at the regional helped his head a lot”
Hogans race run was point perfect, no mistakes and full gas the whole way down. He was hard on the gas where he needed to be and smoothed out the rock gardens and jumps like they weren’t even there. H crossed the line and after a team review it was obvious he had left nothing on the hill. Now he had to wait.
“I was stood with Dave and he and I were reviewing our runs and all of a sudden he turns to me and says. Dude, nobody’s beaten my time yet and we’re in the top ten guys to come down. It was quite a moment as it dawned on us that something big was about to happen. Rider after rider and still Dave’s time was standing. The last five riders set off and Dave isn’t talking like he does at the bottom of the hill anymore. Neither was I for that matter. I think it was an incredible thing to be stood with him as he started to realize what he’d just done”.
Dave Hogan’s run stood till the top three riders in Pro Elite came down with only two going faster than him. ‘Disco’ took his first National podium in the Pro Elite category in his second full season as a pro with a time just over a second off the win. On the day there were only two Pro Elites and two Junior riders that bested the Mongoose SuperStars time who has now realized all of his potential.
From Matt, Ryan and all the Mongoose SuperStars supporters and Sponsors, Congratulations man. Keep it up. Well Done Disco
The Team will be in action again this weekend at the next round of the GAS Regional Series on the 139 track again in PTA on Sunday the 6h May 2012
Mongoose SuperStars would like to thank all their Sponsors for 2012
Mongoose Bikes, Omnico, Vodacom, Blu Horizon, A1L, Thor MX, Von Zipper, Muc-Off, RaceStar Graphics, DC Shoes, Leatt Corporation, Maxxis, Airoh, Deft Family, Spy Optics and Perfecto Carriers.
A Special welcome onboard to Playboy Energy Drinks who came onboard for this event to support ‘Disco’ Dave Hogan.
Pics Courtesy of Erlo Brown and CSharp photos. Thanks guys