News 17 Aug 2009

Road: Making a move

Riding on the track is the easy part, judging everybody else on track while passing or being passed is where it gets tricky. RRPA has these tips to help you stay safe.



If you’re out on the track and find yourself getting overtaken a lot, never mind, because as long as you hold your line and remain consistent then it makes it much easier for the more experienced riders to pass.

Whether you’re on the correct ‘racing’ lines or not, just retain your line even if you notice a faster rider coming up on you – don’t make any sudden manoeuvres and they’ll make their way past sooner or later.

What this does is allow them to judge where you’re going to be on the circuit more effectively, which will allow them to line you up and make the pass safely when it suits them.

If a rider is coming up on you at speed and already has their line chosen where they’re going to overtake, it’s likely to be a line where you’re not going to be if their judgment is up to scratch.

Any sudden line changes by you is only going to complicate the situation. Ride your own pace and enjoy the ride, because track days are the greatest way to make the most of your bike in a controlled environment.

Track days are loads of fun when you’re in the correct group with equally experienced riders around you, more often than not leading to a great day on the bike that will put a smile on your dial for days.

We can all usually vouch for ourselves when it comes down to riding within our abilities, which is a natural habit through fear of either crashing and injuring ourselves or wrecking our bikes – causing big repair bills and even taking away transport for those who ride the same bike on the streets.

But despite our greatest intentions of keeping it on two wheels, there’s always the possibility that riders can crash into one another, which is caused most of the time by misjudging a passing manoeuvre.

Selected track day providers implement rules where you need to overtake on the outside (at least in the slower groups) if you’re going to make your way past a rider in front, but even then passing is quite a difficult manoeuvre to judge.

One of the most dangerous and uncertain aspects of passing around the outside on entrance to a corner is that riders usually drift toward the outside of the track under braking, so if you’re there and they don’t know it there’s a possibility you could be squeezed out and have nowhere to go – either ramming into them or going off the track at speed.

A good thing to keep in mind is that usually riders will drift out, and unless I know the rider I’m attempting to pass well, I won’t even bother attempting to pass around the outside under brakes just because you can never tell what the rider in front will do.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you are in a group that allows passing on the inside, the ideal way to do this is to get it done as early as possible and at least get up alongside the other rider before you turn in.

That way, they’ll know you’re there and ideally give you plenty of room. If you pass too late and they don’t see you there then there’s a good chance they’ll turn in on you and you’ll have a collision mid-corner.

Another way of passing on the outside is by simply carrying more rolling speed once you get off the brakes and turn in, but to do this you need to at least know that the circuit’s not dirty on the outside of the turn.

The risk in passing on the outside mid-corner is that the rider could crash himself for any reason that isn’t necessarily you fault, but obviously if they go down and you’re on the outside you’re going to get collected by their sliding bike.

In this case I’d say the best bet would be to actually hold back a bit and line them up for the next straight, carrying more speed of the turn and allowing you to make a move down the next straight or at least be close enough to them for an easier pass in the next turn.

The whole idea is to make the pass as smoothly and calculated as possible in order to remain safe and not give the rider in front a fright on the way past, which could result in them making a mistake and actually taking you out.

Something that I do quite often even if I am only a little bit faster than the person I’m attempting to pass, but don’t feel like I can complete the pass safely, is to simply back off for a lap or pull into the pits and allow them to get away and give myself an open track.

We know that ‘beating’ other riders is the fun part, but it’s only a track day and there are no prizes for being the first rider into the pits for each and every session. Sometimes it’s just easier to swallow your pride and let them go on their way.

The reason for this is that although you may ultimately be faster, some riders are good under brakes or have fast bikes or whatever the case may be, which makes it more difficult than usual to pass them.

The key in all of this is to allow margin for error, by either yourself or the person you’re trying to pass. Do that and you’ll always make the pass safely and efficiently, which is a good thing for all involved.