Defining someone as the greatest of all time – a GOAT – in any sport is a topic that is always bound to create an epic debate down the pub or over a coffee. So, what better to do on the latest MotoGP™ Podcast than speak to the GOAT of Downhill Mountain Biking and MotoGP™ fan Greg Minnaar on how – just like our own Valentino Rossi – he’s managed to stay at the peak of his powers for so long.
Minnaar is currently the most prolific male Downhill Mountain Bikers on the planet and is widely considered the GOAT of his sport. The 38-year-old South African won his first Downhill World Championship in 2003 and is still going strong today, a testament to Minnaar’s ability to always look for how he can improve and adapt his style to the upcoming world beaters – much like the experienced guard are having to do in MotoGP™.
“Possibly the most stand out is Sam Hill. He had a completely different style of riding, he could ride these really tight lines, and super aggressive on his run. And he could just find time out of nowhere,” says Minnaar, talking about who riders who have made him have to readapt his way of riding. “It forced me to try and ride, instead of adapting my riding style to try and ride how he rode, which is what most people try and do, it made me focus more on my own style of riding and work harder on trying to ride the way I feel is quicker for my type of style and body type versus his.
“He runs a tight line, I prefer to be off the brakes just railing the outside, that’s just the style of riding I ride. But he was just really tough to beat, an incredible rider who could just be up by 3 or 4 seconds out of nowhere. Just not sure how or why; incredibly gifted, technically.”
We’ve seen similar stories in MotoGP™. Rossi’s leg dangle, Marc Marquez’ elbow dragging – but there are some riders who have rarely adopted a diverse style to their own, Jorge Lorenzo being a good example of that. So how does Minnaar’s career relate to that of a MotoGP™ rider in terms of having to continually see where you can find that extra ounce of performance?
“Yeah I kind of had to. I couldn’t ride these inside lines, this tight line race. And I think, you know, when someone comes in with a new style of riding, it always distracts your focus. Maybe they’re beating you because of this new maybe dragging an elbow or dangling a leg, a lot of it is a psychological element of this new way of racing which then boosts the confidence of the person doing it. So then he just gains a little more. It’s totally psychological and probably has nothing to do with the race.
“But you practice and you see this guy once or twice and he’s on this really tight line, and you know he’s really quick because he won the weekend before so now you start to think that that’s the best line to be on but you’re really fine on the line on the outside, just railing the outside as fast as you can, you’re probably quicker, carrying more speed, but suddenly you’re starting to second guess yourself that this is the line you need to be on. That’s what makes downhill so hard – not knowing where you competitors are, what they’re doing, and if that inside line is actually any good – or is the guy just teasing you and working on your confidence…”
You know what to do – click your favoured podcast platform link at the top of the article to go listen to the fascinating chat with Minnaar. Below is some of the other topics you can look forward to:
- Greg & MotoGP™
- Life on the road & life at home
- Greg had the same start in sport as every MotoGP™ rider…
- From motorbikes to bicycles
- The GOAT of downhill
- Being a South African sporting icon & meeting Brad Binder
- The scariest thing Greg’s ever done: riding a MotoGP™ bike!
- Kenwood Quickfire
- Things you need to see on YouTube!
And talking of YouTube, don’t forget you can watch this and plenty of other episodes on MotoGP™’s YouTube channel!