We Are The Champions - Part Four: Greg Minnaar

1wearethechampions

Finishing off our web series catching up with the 2012 World Champs, we had a chat with Men’s World Champ Greg Minnaar. Greg needs no introduction in the world of bikes – one of the biggest names going, his skill on a bike is legendary. Without further ado, here’s what he had to say.

Greg on top of the podium. A long wait, but a welcome comeback for the flying South African
Greg on top of the podium. A long wait, but a welcome comeback for the flying South African. Photo credit – Seb Schieck

Let’s start with the amazing win at Leogang last year. It was quite a long track, and pretty technical at the same time. Was it your sort of track then?
It is a venue that I’ve done well at in the past. Nowadays you can think a track suits you and you’ll find yourself off the pace. To be honest, it is a track that I have a lot of fun riding and racing.

Is enjoying riding a track essential to winning on it?
I don’t think so. It’s all about putting the run together in the final that counts. It’s more about enjoying your riding then enjoying the track.

It was nine years between you last winning Champs in Lugano in 2003 and your win last year. Did that make you push harder in Leogang?
No, I had completely forgotten about 2003 until one of the media asked me something about Lugano. Shit, are you able to even count that win? Wahahaha….

With so many nearly-wins between those two, did you feel a lot of pressure to get to the top of the podium in 2012?
Damn right!! 2nd place sucks, but its even worse when you’re in 2nd by 0.05sec. I wasn’t going to let that happen again!

Greg on a flyer. Photo credit - Victor Lucas
Greg on a flyer. Photo credit – Victor Lucas

Were there any special features on your bike, apart from the paintjob?
The V-10 in general is pretty special, but there was nothing on the bike that I hadn’t used through the season… Oh yeah, Gamut did a pretty cool design on my guide.

Moving on from last year, how have you spent your off-season? Hard in training?
It’s been a busy off season with a mixture of training, working on the True Collection and launching another dynamic to our company Ultimate Experience, and taking over my parents bike shop. My father was really ill last year and I didn’t really want him going back into the bike shop once he got out of hospital. I got a hold of a good friend of mine who I knew would be able to manage the store and between the two of us we have taken it over. But it is a lot more work then I ever realised!

You’ve now re-signed with Santa Cruz for the next three years, with Steve staying for five and Josh joining you with three. It must be more like a family than a team now, surely?
It’s always been a family… you guys only realizing it now?! This was that skate boarder from the 1940’s dream, and although his wife wouldn’t agree, he has done an amazing job creating the Syndicate.

A close team must be quite an important thing in the madness of race weekends. Is it all about the beer, deck chairs and the practice runs we see in the videos, or can the pits get a bit heated?
We’re serious when we need to be, but only when we need to be. I’m the one who needs a little space before the race, so I normally head back to the hotel or sit inside the truck. We have a really good pit environment, banter is rife.

What’s the plan for the next year then?
Go travelling with the Syndicate and try our hand at World Cups and Enduro World Series… We’re a pretty fortunate bunch!

You’ve got World Champs right on your doorstep in 2013. Does that make it easier or harder for you with the weight of expectation?
There is always added pressure when racing at home. The good thing is the locals here in South Africa have no idea what the difference is between the World Championships and World Cups so they all think its just a date change from the previous years. The pressure is all going to come from myself… Its something I’m going to have to manage properly.

On the note of World Champs in Pietermaritzburg, surely on a track that’s fast, wide open and off the brakes, bigger wheels have got to be the way to go? Any thoughts?
Has Steve “Big Wheel” Jones got something to do with this question?? [Ed note: not directly, but he's the inspiration!] I’ve never tried a DH bike with bigger wheels. The whole mountain bike industry is moving that way so it won’t surprise me if we see one or two out there.

Any last pearls of wisdom for the aspiring racers out there?
Today is the youngest you’ll ever be, live your life like it is!
Big thanks to Santa Cruz, Shimano, Fox, Enve, Maxxis, O’Neal, Iron Fist Athletic, Oakley, Kabuto Helmets, 510, Gamut, Crankbro’s and all of our team sponsors!

Thanks Greg! Best of luck for this season.

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  1. Joe

    Try saying “banter” in a south african accent. Disnae work.

  2. Booboy

    Excellent interview series. If only there was a magazine you could stick them in

  3. like, Lister, right, like?

    Too true, Booboy. I still look forward to the mag arriving. 10 mins later and I’m done for the month.
    These interviews and insights HAVE to go in the mag with lots more stuff or it’ll die.

  4. Dexta

    Minnar legend end of hl win again this year

  5. Dexta

    I agree with the mag thing

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