Novice guide to Track Days

 

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Novice guide and tips to track days
by John Hewitt

At Go Star Racing, we are keen to encourage more novices to experience taking their bikes around some of the UK's best tracks. A track day can be one of the most exciting experiences on a bike and can improve your riding skills.

This page is fairly lengthy in content, however we hope that you take the time to read it as it is designed for the less experienced track day riders amongst you who might benefit from the experience of others.

Some advantages of taking your bike on the track are:-

No Speed Limit -
An obvious starting point for a novice going to a track for the first time is the luxury of no speed limits. This fact can maximize the enjoyment, but also can create danger if not respected. Your speed will naturally increase throughout the day as your confidence grows. REMEMBER YOU HAVE ALL DAY!!

No Cars or Pedestrians -
The only car / van vehicles that are allowed on the track are the tracks own recovery, safety and medical services. All tracks in the UK have strict rules relating to where spectators can stand and view the bikes on the track. However it should be noted that non of these vehicles will be on the circuit until either session has been stopped. Flags will be displayed to warn you of any on track incidents. Full briefings are given at the start of each day relating to flags and their meanings.

Clear Circuit -
All vehicles travel in a clockwise direction. There are no drain covers, rubbish, potholes or anything of that type to avoid. Watch out for white lines in the wet.


What follows is a list designed to help Track Novices enjoy there day fully. After all you are paying for the day and we want you to get maximum enjoyment for your money. Please read carefully through the Do's, Don'ts and Comments and bear in mind what has been written. These tips have been complied for your benefit.

Some of the Do's

  1. Ensure your bike is in full mechanical working order prior to arriving at the track. Bikes which are not roadworthy will not be allowed on track. Make sure you have sufficient tread on your tyres and your brake system is in good condition. Also ensure that your chain is adjusted correctly and lubricated. Consult either your handbook, local motorcycle dealer or an experienced bike rider.
  2. Ensure you have full protective clothing & equipment. In the event that an accident occurs, all that will exist between your body and the track is the clothing and the helmet you are wearing. Most circuits will not allow riders to use their track unless they have either one piece leathers or full zip together two piece leathers. Double stitched seams are recommended.  A good quality helmet with an ACU gold badge must also be worn. Black visors are allowed.
  3. Be sure to fill your bike up prior to arrival at the track, or ensure that you have alternative refuelling arrangements. Some circuits have fuel available on site at a slightly increased cost, but do not base your day on the fact that fuel will be available on site. Most circuits have garages nearby.
  4. Ensure you hold and bring with you a current FULL bike driving licence that proves you are legally allowed to ride a Motorcycle of the CC you are intending to take around the track. This it not a rule laid down by Go-Star, it is one that each of the UK's circuits must follow under their own Health & Safety regulations.

Some of the Don'ts

  1. Firstly, don't worry if you have never done this kind of thing before. There will be no pressure to get you up-to British Super-bike Champion level on the day. The day is designed for your enjoyment and at no time will you be criticised or mocked for the pace that you are going around the track. There is nothing worse than putting pressure on yourself when you are on the track. You should be concentrating on the circuit. The instructors will be there to help and explain to you the physics involved in bike performance or handling.
  2. Take your time to learn the track. Instructors will show you the correct lines. However riding styles and type of bike can affect your cornering technique, therefore do not be tempted to follow another riders lines unless you are very confident there lines suit your style.  The instructors will show you the Entry, Apex and Exit point for each corner.
  3. Do not worry about the speed and the fact that you might be going around a corner at 80mph and you see people going around the same corner at 130mph. Stick to your correct line through the corners and you will gain more confidence in you & your bikes capabilities and will naturally pick up speed.
  4. Do not try to 'act the clown' on the circuit. There is NO tolerance for showing off on the circuit. Deliberate wheelies are not permitted, nor are 'Stoppies' or any other kind of tricks on the track. Any persons seen showboating acts will be 'Black Flagged' and potentially removed from racing for that day
  5. SLOW IN FAST OUT. If you enter a corner too fast and half way through it you feel that you will not make the turn, don't grab for the front brake. If there is enough grip in your tyres to stop the bike, there is enough grip to turn. Whilst you have the bike leant over, grabbing the brake runs the risk of the front wheel locking up, resulting in a low side type crash. Once you have committed to the corner make sure your fingers are off the brake lever. This reduces the chance of a panic grab of the brake. If you think you are going to fast, lean the bike over further  and 99 times out of 100 you will make the corner.
  6. If you come off your bike, DO NOT attempt to recover your bike especially if it is on the circuit. Every circuit has experienced Marshals located all around the track that will deal with this for you. In the event that you come off, make yourself known to the marshal if he has not already started sprinting toward you frantically waving flags in the air. NEVER walk across the track.

Some General Comments

  1. Relax - The more you can relax and get into the mind set of what you have to do, the better. Instructors will be on hand all day to take you around the track and advise you. There are no words that can really calm you down other than some advice that was given to a Novice once: "If you take the correct line, at a comfortable speed, and don't grab for the brake in a corner, there is nothing you can do that will push the bike to its limits and ultimately endanger you or the bike"
  2. Corners - When approaching a corner always try to look through it toward the exit point i.e. 'Where you want to end up'. As a rule your bike will go where you are looking so if you look at the tyre wall, you will probably end up in the tyre wall!!!!!!
  3. Avoid false neutrals - Make positive gear changes
  4. Commuter Foot Syndrome - Tuck your feet in when riding on track. Ideally you should have the ball of your foot on the pegs when cornering. Obviously you will have to move your feet to change gear and use the rear brake. If you watch professional racers you will see that they very often adjust there feet position just before committing to a turn.
  5. Accidents can happen, be assured that all circuits have fully trained medical personnel on site. The majority of sites have full medical facilities onsite as well. There will always be an Ambulance with fully qualified Para-Medics available. Track Days can not operate without such personnel available.

 

 

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