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MTBU.S.A.August 29, 2004
NORBA Series Downhill Round 6
Durango, Colorado, USA

Greg Minnaar Claims 4th Career Title, Wins the 2004 NORBA Series Final

Team G Cross Honda rider Greg Minnaar of South Africa took it all the way this weekend by winning the first international mountain bike title for Honda Racing, and in so doing, earning his 4th career title. He did it in style too, not only winning the qualifier race, but also taking the final NORBA race of the year by nearly 2 whole seconds, thus defending his 2003 NORBA Title by a margin of 149 points.

Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar

Training went well for Greg who knows the course well and basically focused on the changing terrain as corners were getting blown out almost by the hour. The normally moist loamy soil in Durango was this year especially dry and dusty, and in places it was similar to the Aspen race earlier this month. It became a matter of trying to predict how the course would look at the time of the qualifiers. The weather remained constant and despite the usual threat of thunderstorms at this time of the year, none appeared during training or racing.

Race strategy for Greg this week was to maintain his points margin after the qualifying race, then ride within his limits on a course that suits both him and the Honda RN01. Qualifying got off to a great start with Greg posting the fastest time of 3m 43.8secs and his main rival John Kirkcaldie (Team Maxxis) coming in 7th after reportedly going went off course. The course was really rough after the training sessions and the other categories had raced. Greg tried not to over do it and was a little surprised to have the fastest time. This gave Greg an even larger points margin going into the final and Greg knew all he had to do was finish top 8. With the reliability of the bike already proven, it was up to Greg to ride the race to strategy.

Greg had tired legs from a tough training week the week earlier and knew he couldn’t rely on pure power, so in the beginning of the final he rode as smoothly and efficiently as possible saving energy for the final half of the course. Half way down he knew he’d done enough to win the Series and began to push harder in the second half. When he crossed the line he was thrilled to see that not only had he won the series, he’d improved his qualifying time by nearly 4 seconds and won the race, almost 2 seconds clear of Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate) the 2003 World Cup Champion. Main rival John Kirkcaldie, perhaps feeling the pressure from Greg’s qualifier, made a mistake earlier in his race and then while trying to make up time, crashed in the final 100m of the course and failed to score a top 10 result.

Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar (Race and Series Winner)
"I’m so excited and happy to have won today. The series was a very important goal for the team, and me, and to have achieved that in our first year is pretty special. I wanted very much to defend the title I won in 2003, and therefore opted to do this Series and all six races, instead of some other events. That decision means even more to me now that I’ve defended this major title. To win the final race is a bonus. I was coming down the hill, and when I knew I’d done enough to win the series, I started saying to myself ‘I’ve got it, I’ve got it’ but then I would say to myself, ‘Shut up and concentrate!’ This is a course where you had to remain focused the whole way and I had to be careful not to get too carried away. I can’t say enough about this bike on the tough courses, it’s really incredible. The tougher the course, the better we do. The team has been amazing, thanks to all the staff this week, and of course to all our sponsors that help to make this happen….I’m going to Europe a happy man."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"I’m delighted with how Greg performed this weekend. He rode a solid qualifier and an intelligent final, to give us one of the big objectives we had for the year, a NORBA Series Title in the first year for the team. We are delighted and the whole team now looks forward to the World Championships."

Meanwhile Greg’s team-mate Cyrille Kurtz has been training back in France, near his home, in preparation for the next month’s World Championships. Both riders will use next week’s Swiss Cup in Buttes as a final preparation for the all important UCI Mountain Bike World Championships which take place from September 6 to 12, in the ski resort village of Les Gets (FRA), about an hour from Geneva.
NORBA Series Downhill Round 6
Durango, Colorado, USA


Final Results
1 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Joel Panozzo (Progressive/Intense)
4 Mick Hannah (Team Haro-adidas)
5 Dustin Adams (Team Giant Pearl Izumi)
6 Jared Rando (Team Giant Pearl Izumi)
7 Jared Graves (Yeti Cycles)
8 Bryn Atkinson (Ironhorse/Madcatz)
9 Justin Havukainen (Intense Oakley)
10 Chris Del (Bosco)

Greg Minnaar
(Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· Union Cycliste Internationale
· Honda Worldwide | MTB - Mountain Bike Downhill Race
· U.S.A.

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