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Trackside: Good Passes

by The "Professor" Gary Bailey


Hey guys, sorry it's been a while, but things have been a little busy with Supercross getting underway. Here’s a quick update on the Cooper Webb camp before we get to today’s topic. Cooper has been working hard at the gym and on the track and the whole Star Yamalube Yamaha team has been focusing on bike set up. For my part, I’ve been studying footage to see where Cooper is losing time on the track so that he and I can get that fixed. I can tell you when you're looking for one-second a lap, it's not the easiest thing to find and fix. If it were that easy everyone would find it and everyone would fix it. But, the best news is it all came together this weekend with Cooper scoring his first pro SX podium [Ed. note: Cooper finished second overall].

With that said, today's topic is all about passing. We all know that a good start is important but the bottom line is that even if every rider gets a great jump off the gate someone will get the holeshot and the rest will follow. So what do you do if you are one of the 39 other riders following the leader? This position presents unique issues much different from those faced by the guy who got the holeshot. First, a bad start gets in a rider's head so the adjustment must be made to let it go and refocus. Next, there will be riders all around so picking your favorite or even a good line will not always be an option. So, if the race is to be salvaged, a rider has to have a few more tricks in his bag.

First, a bad start will require you to be faster than those in front of you or obviously you're not going to catch them.

Second, once you do catch slower riders you better know where the best place is to make a pass. This is where what you did in your earlier practice sessions begins to pay off. During practice you should be trying different lines and going over race scenarios so when it's time to try a different line in the race, you already have options mapped out in your mind. Trying to figure out new lines and thinking about decisions during the stress of a race is not the time to learn. Preparing for this situation begins during the week on the practice track using different lines and continues at the track on race day doing the same thing after you have put in your qualifying laps. Then even though you have limited time it's best use a lap or two to mix it up and try some different lines in case you need them in the heat of the battle.

Third, you better know how to pass and by this I mean a rider needs to know and understand the difference between a good pass and a bad.

To understand this let’s focus on some passes that I think are pretty awesome while working their way through the pack. There are a lot of guys that can turn a fast lap and with a good start can stay near the front but there are few who can recover from a bad start and come through the pack.

I was asked to share something I’ve seen in the first few rounds of Supercross and I just kept thinking about some good come-from-behind rides and thought I would share them with you and talk a little bit about how they were executed. The ones that stick out in my mind are the 450 heat 1 at Anaheim 1 with Ryan Villopoto starting in seventh place and finishing 2nd. I want to give props to Alessi for the wIn, but watching Villopoto come through the pack was pretty impressive.

Next would be Ryan Villopoto in the 450 main event in Phoenix. From ninth place on lap one to taking the lead on lap 14 and eventually the win. For me this was an unbelievable ride.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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