There’s more to track day riding than just going round and round in circles. As a newcomer to track days it’s worth taking notice of the unwritten rules of track day riding to make sure your fellow riders and you have a great day. Here’s a basic guide to track day etiquette which should keep you out of trouble.
Leave plenty of room – If you plan on overtaking a slower rider, make sure you have plenty of time and room to do it in so you don’t upset them by buzzing past.
Don’t cut across – If you’ve overtaken someone just before a bend, don’t make an extra special effort to get back on the racing line if it means you cut across the other rider’s nose. There’s more than one line around a corner so scrub off a little more speed and take a tighter line.
Don’t sit on their apex – When overtaking riders who are only slightly slower, a lot of the time it will have to be done on the brakes. If this is the case make sure you give them plenty of notice by pulling along side (or a little ahead) in the braking zone with the clear intention of going past. Don’t make a late dive up the inside so you appear in their vision just as they’re tipping in and going for the apex. It could end badly.
Lines – Nobody expects you to have the perfect lines, but by consistently keeping on a general racing line the faster guys will be able to pass more safely if they know roughly where you’re going to go.
Braking – Again nobody expects you to be a braking master, but just try to be smooth and consistent with how and where you brake. If you brake lightly for a corner one lap, then slam on the anchors the next, you’re only going to catch people out who are following you.
Speed – Similar to the above really, consistency is the key. Don’t suddenly decide you’re going to have a warm down lap and drop way off the pace because you’ve had enough on that session, you’ll only become a rolling road block. If you’ve had enough that session keep your speed relatively high so there’s not a massive difference between you and the group, then pull in to the paddock as soon as you can.
If a sudden slow down is unavoidable due to a mechanical problem or similar, pull off the racing line and raise a hand or show some gesture so people can clearly see you have an issue.
Decide well in advance when you want to leave the track, this will allow you time to get into the most convenient position for your track exit. Don’t make a last minute decision to leave the circuit, slow down and then dart across the track to make it into the paddock. If someone is going for the overtake it could end badly.
Please – decide early, get to the correct side of the track and let other riders know you’re coming in by raising a hand or sticking out a boot. Finally don’t change your mind after you have started your exit. Jumping back on to the track will only catch other riders out just as much.
If someone rubs you the wrong way on track with a less than ideal overtake, or you simply feel you are ‘better’ than the rider that has just overtaken you, don’t push past your limits just to try and get back at them.
There are many reasons why someone may be faster such as better tyres, more horses, better suspension setup and more go-faster gadgets. Stick within your limits.
Don’t mistake this for not having fun with friends and other riders however, as I believe it’s all part of track days, but do remember to be realistic about your own abilities and the abilities of your bike to greatly reduce the risk of an off.
If you unintentionally cause someone else to alter their direction or speed for whatever reason, a simple apology will more often than not diffuse the situation and make the overtaken rider feel all the better. Apologise for your mistakes and everyone stays happy.
This is more for faster riders dropping down groups to be with friends. If they can keep pace with the group that’s fine, but if they get frustrated and start making silly overtakes then they’re only increasing the risk of pissing people off, or worse having an accident.
So in summary, do your best not to affect other riders on track in any major way, and if you do, make sure you acknowledge your mistake and apologise to keep tempers to a minimum.
Following the above track etiquette rules will see you, your mates and all other riders staying cool and having a great day.
Photo by Nic Redhead