How to ride fast and safe on wet circuits, by our resident track instructor
Smooth is safe
The key to safe riding in the wet is being smooth on the controls and shifting your weight around. Concentrate on the straights; braking and accelerating hard when upright, and taking it steady in the corners.
Gently release the throttle and wait for the weight to transfer to the front tyre before braking. Squeeze the front brake lever lightly, to get the front tyre dug in, then progressively harder, feeling for grip. Finish braking before tipping-in. Blip the throttle on downchanges to reduce engine braking.
Getting through the corners
Do all your turning off the brakes and with a neutral throttle to give the front tyre the best chance of gripping. To stabilise the bike, and give you one less thing to think about on the way in, hang off way before the braking zone so you’re in the correct position before the turn. Keep the bike as upright as possible into, through and out of the corner, taking pointy V-shaped lines. Wide, swooping arcs mean leaning on the front tyre’s tiny contact patch, which is risky.
Search for grip
Remember where the slippery bits of track are and mentally log them for the next lap. You might have to ride off-line to avoid the smoothed-out tarmac of an apex, and you should always accelerate gently out of an off cambered corner. Avoid painted kerbs and watch out for painted grid spots.
Spinning the rear
Give yourself confidence by deliberately making the rear wheel spin in a straight line on a long, uncambered piece of track. You’ll be surprised by how much it actually takes to get the rear to break traction.
Keep it upright
Hang off to reduce your lean angle and gently pick up the throttle to get weight transferred to the rear tyre. Only accelerate hard when upright.
You can still have fun on road tyres. Sports touring rubber is the most suitable in the wet – sticky trackday tyres simply won’t work.
Keep the heat on
You can use tyre warmers on wets (on a low setting) but as soon as you take them off they’ll quickly lose heat as you go from paddock to track. They’ll cool further and lose grip as you splash steadily round the first few laps. It’s better to start cold and gradually build speed, adding heat, grip, and confidence as you go.
‘Hang off to reduce your lean angle; only accelerate hard when upright’
RIDING EXPERT Michael Neeves MCN Chief Road Tester and Elite instructor at the Honda Ron Haslam Race School