Smiley Charges From Last to Fifth in His First Factory Polaris Race
“Mighty Matt” pounds the Predator and comes away impressed
Gilmer, TX – Matt Smiley put on a thrilling come-from-behind charge in his first race as part of the new Team Polaris factory ATV team. Despite a freak incident in the first turn which left him nearly last heading into the woods, “Mighty Matt” fought back all the way to fifth by time the checkers flew at the Lone Star GNCC, the opening round of the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series.
“I had a decent start, I was third or fourth, and it was a little rocky so I got roosted,” said Smiley. “Then the engine turned off. A rock had actually hit the key and turned the ignition off. It was a one-in-a-million shot.”
Matt restarted his Predator and took off next-to-last, but he blazed an incredible swath through the pack. “I knew it was two hours and a lot of guys were going to get tired,” said Smiley. “I just put my head down. I just picked them off one-by-one and made it to the top five at the finish.”
Matt came into the pits at the end of lap one in 11th, and he had a brief stop to remove a skid plate that had caught a rock. From there he charged with his trademark “never give up” style and blazed all the way to fifth when the checkered flag came out.
Matt gave his new Polaris Predator credit for his strong finish. “Well, you’re not sure what you have until you finally race,” said Smiley. “After this, I’m pretty confident in what we put out there. The Polaris handled well and the power was smooth and controllable. And the ergonomics are very comfortable. Because the Predator was so easy to ride, fatigue wasn’t a problem.”
Matt’s Safari Motorsports Team Manager Jay Gobel agreed that the Polaris fits his style well. “Honestly, I don’t think Matt ever got completely comfortable on the quad he rode last year,” said Gobel. “Ergonomically, the Polaris is much more comfortable, and we’re very happy with the handling and the suspension, too.”
Matt and the Factory Polaris team head to the Orange Crush GNCC in Florida, which runs on March 6.
“I’m really curious to see what happens there,” said Smiley. “I think we have something for the guys up front once we get a good start.”
In addition to Polaris’ factory effort with Smiley, the company also introduced its new contingency program. The largest ATV prgram ever, t. . . . .
The AMA-sanctioned Suzuki Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. The 13-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The nearly three-hour long GNCC races lead as many as 1400 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include Suzuki, atv, Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF and ITP, atv parts and riders compete for over $1.3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, Ohlins, Cometic, Outerwears, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Racer X Illustrated, Motion Pro, Tire Balls, Moto-Tee’s, Warrior and Laeger’s. For more information log on to gnccracing.com.
Photo: Matt Smiley charged to fifth overall in his first ride on the factory Polaris Predator 500 at the Lone Star GNCC in Gilmer, Texas. Photo by Ray Gundy : firstname.lastname@example.org