Top track tips
How to learn a new circuit
Take it easy at first
It can be intimidating to think everyone else except you knows where they’re going when you turn up to a new track. But don’t worry, there’s no rush. Turn your head from side-to-side and look around to get an idea of the track layout on those opening laps. Don’t attack the circuit straight away; it’s too easy to run off the track and form bad habits that will be hard to shake off later.
Do your homework
Learn as much about the circuit as you can before you turn up. Find onboard videos, track guides and even computer games to give you a flavour of the track, but these should only be used as a guide. The circuit will look completely different when you actually ride it.
Walk, run or cycle
If you can get access to the track the night before, walking, running or cycling around it will help you learn it more comprehensively. Now’s your chance to suss out the shape of the corners and to look out for things you can use as braking, turn-in and exit markers. Look out for bumps, cambers, kerbs and anything you think will help or hinder you at speed.
Join all the dots
The racing line, braking markers, apexes, turn-in and exit points are the most important thing to ‘lock-in’ before you worry about going fast. Track riding is formulaic, as it never changes (unless it starts raining). Treat it like a giant, high-speed dotto-dot book. Begin by hitting your marks at low speed and the rest is easy as you bleed in more speed.
Take a pen and paper
Print out a track map and make notes after every session. Start with the simple stuff by writing down the gear you’re in at each corner, even if it’s the wrong one to begin with, then progress to writing notes about what the bike is doing at points on the track, and draw the racing lines you’re taking. Your notes will change as you learn the track more, but the act of putting them to paper will make you think more about what you’re doing.
Brush off the bravado
You’ll be bombarded with advice at a trackday, whether you ask for it or not. The best words of wisdom will come from the instructors, but listen to the faster riders, too. There’s a lot of bravado at a trackday and the most common thing is riders telling you they’re flat-out in certain corners – they’re usually lying.
See if you can walk, run or cycle around the track to suss out the corners and look for braking markers. Use your head and become an expert on the track before you arrive, study onboard videos and the track map to learn which way the corners go. But remember, the track may seem quite different when you actually get there. Treat the track like a giant dot-to-dot, hitting your marks slowly to begin with.