One of the most consistent rider in this year’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series is BTO KTM team rider Matt Goerke. He has qualified for 13 450 main events so far and he’s finished in the top 10 five times, his worst finish a 17th at Phoenix, but you can usually see him battling up front, mixing it up with the factory-backed stars. His success in 2013 is even more impressive when you consider how deep this year’s field is with almost all of the big guns still showing up for each race.
Goerke, however, knows a thing or two about going fast. In fact, the Floridian seemed to be on the fast track to a factory ride when he won a muddy Southwick outdoor National in 2009 as a replacement rider on the factory Yamaha team. But major injuries in 2010 and 2011 set the 26-year-old back considerably.
Now all healed up and ready to prove himself again, he has been slowly working his way back into the limelight after winning last year’s MX1 Championship in the Canadian Nationals and then posting a season-high seventh-place finish at the Oakland round of this year’s Supercross Series. With his recent success, Georke has newfound confidence and believes in himself once again. As do many of his followers.
I caught up with Matt at the Houston Supercross where he finished 11th. He is now just four points out of the top 10 in the standings, trying to chase down the two nearest riders ahead of him, Broc Tickle and Justin Brayton.
Talk about this year Supercross Series.
I think it’s gone well. I worked hard during the off-season and I have a good bike and I think so far things have gone well. There’s a lot of good competition this year, and unless I crash or mess up really bad, I’m always right there in the top 10. I’m at the point where I feel I need to start moving a little higher up, so we will see what happens the next few races.
Your starts have been pretty good this year.
Yeah, I’ve been working really hard on my starts this year, and it’s been paying off. I’ve been getting really good starts in my heat races, I just need to start getting them in the main events. I think in Toronto I got a good start in the main and that makes it so much easier. I fell in the race, but since I got a good start I still managed to get 11th.
How have the tracks been for you this year?
In the beginning they were all kind of easy, but then we had a few rough ones. In Toronto we had a really technical track, it got really rutted and stuff.
Do you prefer the more technical tracks?
Yeah, I do. I’ve been working hard during the off-season and what I ride in practice is more technical, and I think that translates over to the weekends. But I think most of the top guys ride the technical stuff well, so it just boils down to getting a good start and getting out front early. It’s a lot better for passing, when the track is more technical, so that’s good.
What were your expectations coming into this year?
I was hoping to break into the top-five at some point, but so far that’s been tough to do. I’ve been close, but there’s a ton of really good riders out there this year.
You had some really bad injuries during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Do you feel those seasons set you back quite a bit?
Yeah, I do. Those two years were horrible. I broke my tib-fib in 2010 and came back and then I broke my ankle. So I tried to come back in 2011 and I had a bad crash at Jacksonville and shattered my pelvis and broke my wrist real bad. After that, I thought seriously about quitting, but once I got healed up I was anxious to ride again. So I moved out to California at the start of last year, and I did okay in Supercross, and then I went to Canada and I won that outdoor series. So after that I signed with [BTO Sports/KTM] and started working real hard on Supercross.
How did you like the Canadian Nationals and how do they compare to the U.S. series?
Well, they aren’t as big as the U.S. series and there aren’t as many riders, but the top few guys are really fast. The tracks get really rough, actually rougher than our tracks, and I like riding up there. The fans are great and I think winning that series really helped my confidence for this year. The tracks are a little narrower and they are a lot rougher, which I think was good training for me for this year’s outdoor series.
Right now, you are a solid top-10 guy; what do you think it will take to get into the top-five?
I think my first few laps need to be a little more intense. It usually takes me a few laps to get going, and if I can be fast right from the start, then that will help a lot. I guess that’s how I am, genetically. I’m just a slow starter. But on the other hand, I can still keep going fast when I’m tired, which might be another genetic thing. I think that’s why I always to good in the outdoors.
How much of this is mental for you?
A lot of it. I’m so close to breaking through, and I know I can do it. So once I finally get into that top-five I’m sure I can stay there.
It seems like a lot of times you are good in the race, but you seem to struggle in qualifying. Is that part of that “slow start” mentality?
I guess so. At the beginning of the year I was terrible in qualifying. I’ve gotten a lot better at it, but that’s been a sore spot. I’m more of an endurance guy, so I can do well in a 20-lap race, but trying to put down one fast lap is hard for me. I’m working on it, so hopefully I will get better at it.
Do you have a trainer, or do you do everything on your own?
I pretty much do it all on my own, however, I do get a bit of help from different people. There are a couple of trainers that I know who give me tips and then Michael Byrne, when he was out in California, he helped me put together a pretty good program for Supercross.
Do you feel more comfortable riding Supercross or motocross?
Motocross, for sure, but I am getting more comfortable at Supercross.
Where do you think you can be in this year’s outdoor series?
I actually think I can be top-five, but it’s going to be hard. I know I’m good at outdoors, and I think I can do it.
Do you still get pumped up when you think about your win at Southwick?
Yeah, definitely. I want that feeling again and hopefully I can do it again. Maybe this year in the outdoor series. Now that I’m 100 percent. This is the first time I have been healthy like I was when I won that race, so not that I’m finally fit and healthy again, maybe I can win again.