Coaching outfit motoDNA can not only get people riding faster, it can get them riding safer. WTW’s editor signed up and hit one of the icons of world-championship motorcycle racing: Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek.
There’s something really awe inspiring and majestic about the big motorsport racetracks. Sitting there in pit lane with the bike rumbling away, the sweat pouring down underneath the leathers and the heartrate up, it seems as though a very special, once-in-a-lifetime experience is right in front of you. Then the marshal points to send you out to ride the same track where you’ve watched world champions go to work…it’s a very special feeling.
But once out of pit lane and heading for turn two it becomes very obvious very quickly that riding like those guys doesn’t came naturally to many people. To make the most of a track, and to do it safely, needs specialist knowledge. That’s where motoDNA comes in.
Riding a genuine racetrack or honing race skills is all very well, but as motoDNA Riders Academy main man Mark ‘Irish’ McVeigh points out, the overwhelmingly high proportion of riders attend motoDNA courses just to get straight with day-to-day riding and safety.
“We train riders,” explained the 50-yearold engineer and ex-international racer.
“Training track riders is the smallest part of our business. The biggest part is street riders. We have an introductory program called streetSKILLS 101, and it’s in our training range/skid-pan environment where riders come and do the real basics. They’ll do figure-eights, emergency braking, straight-line avoidance, corner avoidance, U-turns…all that type of stuff.
“It ’s really fantastic because the coach gives them direct feedback every few minutes, so those riders improve dramatically.”
For those who do want to improve lap times, or perhaps just experience the thrill of riding a big, world-class track, there’s trackSKILLS, and while it may not be the biggest part of the motoDNA business, it’s become a huge turnout.
“I started the motoDNA Riders Academy 10 years ago,” continued McVeigh.
“We started running junior development at Broadford in Victoria and we had our ‘Big Day Out’. We had Casey Stoner there, Troy Bayliss, all the car guys, Steven Richards, Craig Lowndes…but we quickly discovered it’s an expensive business. So to subsidise the junior training we brought adults in, and it sort of grew from there. We had people like former MotoGP riders Peter Goddard and Mark Willis. It was a really awesome team of coaches. We built the school up over the years and pre-COVID we were pretty much the biggest track-based riding school in Australia. We were training at 200 events a year and delivering training for the ride days at Lakeside and Queensland Raceway and Barbagallo in WA, as well as being the resident motorcycle school at Sydney Motorsport Park.”
EASY TO SEE
Not only does motoDNA have excellent and highly experienced coaches, it has a few technology aces up its sleeve. It’s one thing for a fast and capable coach to say, “You should be tipping into the corner earlier and running a little wider on entry,” but it’s not so easy for the rider to think about when the bike’s diving hard under braking with the rear wheel hopping and the front compressed and sliding.
For the trackSKILLS training motoDNA places witch’s hats at corner entries, exits and apexes, and coaches with video cameras follow riders. After each riding session is a classroom meeting where the coach talks the riders through the techniques which improve performance, and those things are very clearly demonstrated on the rider’s video. In the case of WTW’s editor for instance, although he was leaning off the bike, he was keeping his upper body too close to vertical. It didn’t feel like that on the bike apparently, but it was as clear as day on the video. The coach was even able to step through the turn a few frames at a time and give guidance on body movement at specific times.
The result was incredible. It made clear and simple a concept which under normal circumstances would be very difficult to demonstrate and take on board. The improvement in lap times was immediate.
All trackSKILLS days are divided into performance groups, so if your dream has always been just to ride one of Australia’s big racetracks, not necessarily be fast, motoDNA will ensure you’re in a group of about the same pace, with safe distances between riders and plenty of supervision. There’s no need for expensive race preparation or specialist gear. Any registered road bike which meets the safety standards is welcome, and newbie riders can fulfil their dreams in a safe and controlled environment. Coaches are on track with all the groups, so there’s still plenty to be learned, even for those not looking to race.
THE RIGHT REASON
WTW’s editor was thrilled with the result of his trackSKILLS training day and spends a lot of time telling everyone how fast he now is.
A more interesting and impor tant observation came from McVeigh himself.
“We train thousands of riders a year and have been doing it for 10 years,” said the bright-eyed Irishman. “We see lots of motorbike riders who are actually licensed but their skill level is very low. We just recommend they come and get some training.
“Basically, it could save their life.” To find out more about motoDNA, the tracks, training courses and dates, log on to motodna.com.au.
Track days will suit all kinds of riders, from pros looking to do some tuning right through to total newbies wanting to cut loose on a high-powered sports bike or commuters wanting a taste of what it’s like to ride a racetrack in safety.
There’s a group of track-day riders – like WTW’s editor – who love to go barrelling around racetracks just for the fun of it, and don’t want the pressure or expense of racing. These riders often have bikes specifically tuned for the job. They’re often not registered and have things like mirrors, lights and blinkers removed.
There are a few high-performance luxuries that’ll add major-league pace to almost any bike. Here’s the editor’s KTM RC390 track bike. It’s a 373cc learner-legal single as it rolls off the dealer floor, and this one’s a good example of some big gains to be had from just a few sensible, relatively inexpensive upgrades.
Remember, this bike is a long way from race spec. It’s a work in progress and a balance between biggrin performance and a limited budget.
Akrapovic: After tyres, the next biggest gain in performance will come from a tuned exhaust system. Akrapovic is the supplier to MotoGP, and the price of a full ‘Akro’ system will frighten the bejesus out of a lot of riders. But a slip-on, otherwise known as a can or muffler, can make a big reduction in weight and a significant increase in horsepower without the need for recalibration of electronics and ignition timing.
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsas: Tyres are the single, ultimate, performance-enhancing hardware for any bike or car. In the bike world, street-legal Pirelli Diablo Supercorsas are the number-one pick. They’re soft and sticky, so the lifespan is considerably shorter than normal street tyres, but holy Mother of Dog they offer incredible grip. For the biggest reduction in lap times from the easiest of changes, Supercorsas should be every rider’s first upgrade.
Motul oils: French company Motul makes high-quality lubricants for mechanical and industrial use. It makes a few other bits and pieces as well, like brake fluids and coolants, but lubricants are the company’s specialty, and for racing engines which spend so much time at the redline and in situations of extreme stress, Motul is the cat’s whiskers. One of the best things about Motul is the huge range of very specific lubes that allows running an oil designed to do exactly what’s asked of it, rather than just running a general multigrade and thinking, ‘She’ll be right’.
Rad Guard radiator guard: It’s amazing how much crap can fling up from the front wheel of a bike on a track that looks fairly clean. Radiators on modern bikes are extremely fussy about airflow velocity and direction, so while a radiator guard is undoubtedly a good idea, getting a good one which will match a bike’s performance at full throttle for long periods is vital. The folks at Rad Guard make pearlers. They look horn, too.