Over the recent Christmas period there was quite a few Racers on track at the Trackday’s I attended. It’s a great opportunity for racers to get a lot of track time in the sun, at a good price. Problems only arise if the fast racers aren’t kept separate from the trackday riders.
A Racers job is to ride on the absolute limit, every lap, making it very difficult to change direction when a slower rider changes direction in front of them, plus the closing speed is so that there is almost no chance of stopping. If Racers are run together on track with trackday riders there is a very big chance of a nasty collision, it’s only a matter of time. Racers are another class of rider so it’s only sensible they are put in another class/group on track.
I have seen that a 4 group trackday instead of the usual 3 groups not only successfully keeps the racers seperate from the normal intermediate and fast group trackday riders, it also provides a quality track time group for the novice / beginner riders which I think is very important as they are paying the same for their track time and they do not need intermediate riders carving them up and scaring them, which happens when Racers attend a 3 group event and the numbers are juggled and end result is there are intermediate riders in the slow group.
Yes, the 4 group system means that each group will get 1x 20 min session less per day (6x 20 min sessions instead of 7x 20min sessions) , but it also means those groups usually have less riders in them and those riders will be more closely matched, which equates to better quality and safer track time. Some riders are adamant that they want 7 sessions not 6 for their money, but in my experience very few of them can actually use all 7 while not becoming too tired to keep a good level of concentration.
After riding in every group on almost 100 days in 2014 at circuits all over Europe with many different organisers, I have seen first hand that organisers who constantly check riders grouping using lap times (transponders) and split them into 4 groups, can offer safe, quality track time to a high number of riders and racers at the same event. I know me saying this will not please everyone, but its my honest opinion and I feel it my responsability to encourage safety and improvements in our sport as much as possible.
Small and big don’t fit:
It terrifies me to see Moto3 and/or lower powered bikes out in the same session as the big bikes.
Most riders on these small bikes are young ,talented and brave and they are doing similar or faster laptimes to the good trackday riders on 1000cc bikes. The problem is that they are doing it in completely different places on the track.
At a recent event I came very close to running one over, again. Luckily I saw the danger coming because of previous experiences of riding on track with them, but even so it was very close.
In my opinion it is unecceptably dangerous and will cause injury or worse if it is allowed to happen. These little bikes ‘dive’ past on the brakes often on the outside because of their later turn in points, they decelerate faster than a heavy 1000 and cut across the front. A recipe for disaster and that’s only half the corner done. Once in front they carry a much higher mid corner speed, clip the curb on the inside and run wider earlier on the exit, passing across the front of the 1000’s tighter exit line right when the faster 1000 starts to accelerate, then the small bike often swerves across the track trying to get a slipstream from someone ahead and can do so in half the time it takes a 1000 rider to get any sort of direction change response. All this is happen while the 1000 rider is trying to open the throttle, which once open makes the small bike appear as though it has hit the brakes, making this the biggest danger area of all.
If you ride a small bike please be aware of this and try to avoid this situation. If you are a parent or a care person of a young, small bike rider, please do everything in your power to avoid putting them on track together with the 1000’s.
Over the Christmas period on circuit I didn’t know many of the young racers who joined the events, I guess that is going to happen as the year pass, but it was very obvious to me what level of championship each one raced, and not because of their speed, but because of their track etiquette.
The higher level of championship, the more considerate of other riders they are. This is because at world championship every lap is extremely valuable. A lap on fresh tyres that a rider has put huge effort into putting each corner together to the best of their ability is GOLD!
Riders at the highest level of competition usually ride as fast as they can or they are make every effort to be out of the way of the riders who are. Personally, I ride on the curbs to stay out of the way of others while I’m warming up and continue fast during warm-down laps in order to return to the pit box earlier and also spend minimum time on track with a dangerous speed difference to the riders riding fast.
Put simply, at world championship level if you ride out of the pits and cruise around on the racing line warming your tyres without looking behind and don’t make every attempt possible to get out of the way of anyone else who happens to be on a fast lap, you will quickly become the most hated rider by each and every rider you get in the way of. The positive side of this strictly enforced track etiquette is that when you get your fresh tyres and are putting together your best possible lap, nobody should get in your way either… and if they do, it’s your turn to let all your frustrations out on them, while still on your bike. Lol.
I’m putting this information out their in the hope that some of the young racers can learn this etiquette before arriving at the bigger championships. If all riders practice track etiquette whether its racing or trackday it makes it not only safer but more enjoyable for everyone.