“Iron Mike” Michael Docherty, US Update. a name we are seeing more and more appearing at the The AMA Outdoors Nationals circuits in the US, as well at this years night races at the Monster Energy Supercross events. Iron Mike is no stranger to the South African audience and thought it would be great to bring everyone up to speed about “Iron Mike” and his achievements thus far. Mike is back in the States after spending the 2015 season here back home for the South African Nationals series. Docherty is perusing his dream of becoming a Pro Motocross racer and it is evident that he is pushing hard to slowly make that dream a realization. Moto ZA caught up with Michael after he qualified for the Muddy Creek AMA Outdoors.
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Moto ZA: Iron Mike,Last year you spend the 2015 season here back in SA and raced for the Wetherd Fast Kawasaki team under the watchful eye of Shane Rutherford. Your year has seen some highlight and and some low’s. Give us a run down of the 2015 season and how it prepared you for your return to the States this year?
MD: After racing in the US for around 6 years, it was a nice change to race a full season back home in SA.
The 2015 season did have some highs and lows, but it was nice to go back to all the tracks I raced growing up. The season started really well for me winning the first Moto of the year and finishing 3rd in Moto 2. I was feeling confident and looking forward to the season, unfortunately some mechanical failures and injuries put me out for most of the season. I matured a lot over 2015, got to travel the country with my buddies and had a fun year of racing.
Moto ZA :End of 2014 at Supercross Africa you finished 3 RD on the podium next to the likes of runner up Cody Gilmore ( USA) and the winner Josh Hill (USA). You where ecstatic and I am sure this put you on the right track to prepare you mentally for the AMA Supercross in the US?
MD: The Supercross in South Africa was an incredible result for me and to be placed 3rd and sharing the podium with Cody Gilmore & Josh Hill was an amazing feeling. I decided to have a go at 2016 SX Series in America and I headed to the USA in November 2015 to prepare myself for some of the East Coast Rounds.
Moto ZA: What a pleasant surprise to have seen you at the night race on the AMA Supercross circuit, which round did you qualify for? Tell us what was the experience like to qualify and too actually site and the start gates of a night race that you deservedly have qualified for.
MD: Lining up on that start line was the most incredible experience of my life and a dream come true. We entered and rode Atlanta, Daytona, Detroit, Indianapolis, St Louis, Foxborough and East Rutherford, New Jersey. Riding a real SX track is definitely a scary site and there is no room for error. Qualifying and Racing SX for me was like having to learn how to race again, with the narrow track, steep jumps, massive whoops and trying to perfect the rhythm sections at race pace is not easy.
I Qualified for my first night show in Atlanta which was difficult and a challenge to be in the top 40. I was happy with my performance and looked forward to learning as much as possible at the next event’s. I managed to make the Night Show’s at Daytona, Detroit, New Jersey and unfortunately did not make the Main Events.I was a little disappointed but I learnt so much at every round that things can only get better for me racing SX.
Moto ZA: Now that you are back in the States , where are you based ,what does a day look like for Iron Mike? Training, riding and social?
MD: I am based on the East Coast in Burlington, North Carolina sharing a house with my Fitness & Nutrion trainer Blake Lewis.
When we racing every weekend there is nothing normal about our days, we do a morning workout and then off to the practice tracks. Our evenings involve more workout’s, cooking dinner and preparing meals, kit and bikes for the next day to do it all again. I try ride 2 to 3 times a week but is difficult when we only got Mondays to Wednesdays, as Thursdays & Sundays we are traveling to and from race’s. It’s a busy schedule but can’t complain when I am living the dream doing what I love to do.
Moto ZA: Since you are based in the East Coast are you planing to stay State side or is there any plans to move to L.A.? It seems like you have settled down nicely on that side.
MD: I have been based east coast side for some time now and has basically become my second home. I am very flexible and am able to get anywhere in the USA should I need to. Earlier this year I drove to and from the west coast to prepare for SX, That was one hell of a drive & experience glad to say I have “been there, done that “
Moto ZA: Also another great step forward for you is that you have qualified for your first outdoor AMA Motocross event. Keep those surprises coming Mike. How did you get the opportunity to go to Muddy Creek, run us through the qualification and what happened that day?
MD: The Outdoor Series is a crazy & hectic week end, we normally arrive on a Thursday Evening or Friday Morning, set up pit, get registered and walk the track. On the Saturday morning about 9:30 am we get a 5-minute free practice which runs in to a 10 minute 1st Timed practice, about 45 minutes later we have the next 15-minute timed practice. The pace and times are hectic and you hope to make the top 36 x fastest to qualify for the Main Races in the afternoon. If you don’t make the top 36 you got to a 4 x lap consolation race.
High Point – My first round didn’t go so great at as I qualified 39th out of 90 riders and in the consolation race I finished 7th just missing out in qualifying.
Muddy Creek – Muddy Creek was a different story as I’ve always enjoyed racing that track and was looking forward to it, I missed the top 36 Qualifiers by 0,0166 of a second and had to go to the 4 x lap Consolation race. I was lying in 6th place on lap 1, made my way to 2nd position on the last lap and was fortunate to take the lead on the last lap and win the Consolation race. My start in the first Moto was not bad and I was lying in 19th place and I lost a few positions to 22nd. I was feeling comfortable in 22nd chasing down a pack of riders and unfortunately went down dropping me to 30th place, I managed to re mount and make up 5 x positions finishing in 25th. The Heat was hectic and I unfortunately suffered heat exhaustion and I was not able to make the 2nd Moto.
Red Bud – What an amazing track and atmosphere, I unfortunately qualified in 37th place and missed out by 0,00516 of a second and had to go to the Consolation race. In the Consolation race I got a pretty good start and was 6th in lap one and managed to get to 4th place on lap 2 (Qualifying Position). On lap 3 I had a “Whisky Throttle” moment, high sided and that was the end of the week end.
Moto ZA: Form there on, did you qualify for the next weeks event at Red Dud?
MD: I did not qualify at Red Bud, missing the top 35 Fastest lap time by 1 position, so had to race the LCQ where I had a good start and was in 6th position and made my way in to 4th place,qualifying position until I high sided coming out of a turn and it was over by then. My next race will be Unadilla 13th August, and the final 2 rounds will be the following 2 weekends at Budds Creek and Ironman.
Southwick – Another great track well known for its sand and deep ruts. The track gets beat up rather quickly, so the very first practice/qualifying class on the track is generally going to have the fastest lap times of the day. Knowing that, I had to let it all hang out in my first qualifier and managed to get in by hundreds of a second over Matt Bisceglia (Factory Suzuki). I was happy with making it straight to the Main Moto’s for the first time as this takes so much pressure of you not having to race the consolation race.
Moto1 – I got a bad jump out of the sandy gates got hung up in a first turn pile up and had to charge through the pack the whole race, using just about every tear off I had. I felt good in this Moto and managed to come from 36th to 22nd.
Moto 2 – Between Moto’s my stomach was playing up but I managed to get on the line. The track was gnarly and broken up, I got a mid-pack start and was in the top 20 for a couple of laps. I took a small tumble lost a few places got going again and knew I had to stay on the bike be smooth to make it to the finish. Starting the last lap, I was in 21st position when my bike cut out from overheating, luckily I got it started and was able to finish the race in 25th.
I was happy with the progress I made and achieved a goal of mine finishing both Moto’s in one piece. I have a couple of weeks off as our budget does not allow us to make the long travel across the States. I will be preparing for the last 3 rounds, Unadilla, Budds Creek & Ironman.
Moto ZA: It seems like thing are finally lining up for Iron Mike, what is it that you want to achieve and take away form the 2016 season? Any potential sponsors looking at picking you up, maybe for 2017?
MD: What I’m looking at taking away from this season is to qualify for the remaining races and get in to the top 20 positions.No potential sponsors yet, but I’m going to keep giving it everything I’ve got for the rest of this year and we know the hard work & commitment will pay off.
Moto ZA: Finally what does Mike do if you are not training or racing? Any other hobbies you pursue? What is your favorite music,food and lastly if you where not racing motocross, what would you have aspired to become in life?
MD: I like to play golf, go mountain biking, occasionally ride BMX, playing video games and I love being at the lake or sea.I love traveling and seeing new places. I enjoy listening to some 80s, 90s, rock, hip hop and some house music every now and then.I don’t really have favorite foods, but when I’m not eating healthy I sure do love stopping by Krispy Kreme for some doughnut’s.