It’s the most important part of your race, but how do you get the most out of your start, and more importantly get the holeshot?
Words: Ben Broad Pics: Alick Saunders
The likes of Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac will tell you that one of, if not the most important part of a race is the start. Your performance off the start will affect the whole race, and being able to nail the start is so important if you are wanting to win. The fastest rider doesn’t always win the race, but putting yourself in a good position and ahead of your closest rivals will give you the edge in beating them. If you follow these tips and keep practicing you will have all the tools you need to get the holeshot and be one step closer to winning the race!
Firstly you want to have your body, and therefore your weight in the right position on the bike. When it comes down to it, you want to be sitting between the fuel tank and the middle of the seat. Not too far forward, but not too far back. Also making sure your elbows are up and in a strong position. You then want to lean forward until your head is over the crossbar which will keep you from flipping the bike. Have your legs gripping hard against the frame of the bike and just in front of the foot pegs.
Holding the clutch in just before engagement is the perfect position as it is right on the edge of the bike taking off. As the gate drops you want to release the clutch smooth and fast. Whatever you do don’t just dump the clutch as it will cause the bike to bog and resulting in a bad start. It is all in the smooth release, but that’s not all you’ll be doing at this point in time.
As your waiting for the gate to drop and holding in the clutch just before its engagement point, you want to make sure you hold the throttle at a high idle. A low idle and rolling the throttle on too slow will cause you to stall the engine. As the gate drops you want to roll the throttle on at the same time as releasing the clutch. You will know if your throttle and clutch are in sync when the clutch is fully released at the same time as the throttle hits the stopper.
Once you’re out of the gate your next priority is getting your feet back on the pegs as soon as possible and changing into third gear. If you already ride a motorbike you will know when to change gears. But you also want to get your feet up onto the pegs as soon as you have passed the gate. By doing this the bike gets more traction as your compressing the rear of the bike onto the ground which will give you more drive towards the first corner
Practice, Practice, Practice
You can never practice enough starts. Every time you go riding, try practice a couple and make sure you nail them perfectly. Say to yourself that you have to do three good starts before you can finish, replicating a race day where you will need to do three perfect starts. It might take a while to get in the swing of things, but nothing good ever comes to those who give up!