MCN Senior Road Tester, Michael Neeves, teaches you how to take the lead and master overtaking on track days.
It’s good to overtake
Overtaking is one of the most satisfying parts of a trackday. It’s good for the ego, especially if we think we’re on a slower bike. But for those being overtaken it can be terrifying – scary enough to put a novice trackday rider off forever, so the trick is to waft by like you’re invisible.
Do it on the straights
The safest place and most courteous place to overtake is on the straights. If your bike is much faster than the guy you’ve just caught, be patient and wait for the next straight to zip past. Start the overtake in the acceleration zone, but do it on the inside of the rider. Don’t go around the outside – the gap will reduce quicker than you think as they drift to the exit kerb and you’ll risk a collision.
...or the braking zones
If your bike is the same speed, or slower than theirs on the straights, overtake in the braking zone, but not the turning-in zone. Once the rider in front is tipping-in, you’ve got less track to play with and you’ll end up lifting them up, or if they don’t see you, you could collide and send them off the track.
Have a braking marker
Braking markers are essential for overtaking if the rider in front is only fractionally slower than you and it’s hard to get past. Don’t just brake after them – they might’ve braked really late that time and you won’t be able to make the corner. Pull out to the side of the rider, giving them plenty of room. Forget they’re there so they don’t distract you, but look out for your marker and brake when you see it. If you’re not past already, release the brakes slightly to move ahead.
Reduce your entry speed
Now that you’re on a tighter line going into the corner and ahead of the overtaken rider, knock-off some corner entry speed to make the apex. Go in too fast and you’ll either run wide or lose the front trying to scrub- off speed, especially on cold tyres.
Leave slipstreaming to racers
It’s dangerous enough sitting behind another bike at speed when you’re racing and you know and trust the rider in front not to do anything unexpected, but on a trackday it’s even more perilous. The rider might brake earlier then you expect, miss a gear, or just give up on their lap and decide to dawdle back to the pits. It’s normally you’ll who’ll crash – back wheels are more solid than fronts.
Are you in the right group?
If you’re overtaking lots of riders in the novice or intermediate group, it’s safer for everyone to move up a group.
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