Trackdays are one place where you can find a vast skill and experience difference all in one place, often riding together. Being touted as a safer way to work on your riding skills while learning to go faster, it is a place that draws casual riders, enthusiasts, and racers throwing them all into the mix. Yes, there are generally separate groups to help keep somewhat similarly skilled riders together, but there still often become vast differences in bikes and riding styles, especially in the entry and intermediate groups (C and B for ease of reference here). By the time most riders are ready for the A, or experienced group, the bike differences become less of a concern due to rider skill levels. A safe, predictable, steady rider is not hard for someone faster to pass. Issues tend to arise when riders jump into groups they aren’t quite ready for.
For the purpose of this blog, I’m not going to discuss passing in the A groups as those are basically just “safe” passes with no other restrictions. Most passers and passees are able to handle this situation. As for the other groups, our B and C riders, passing becomes more of a challenge. In C group, different track-day providers will have different rules, and following their specific rules is a good guideline. Typically, most C riders are new to the track, often are not sure where they are going, and “predictability” becomes more of a concern, hence the generous space allowances that are enforced. Additionally, many new-to-the-track riders are not used to being passed in this fashion, and the additional space is there to give them comfort. The name of the game on passing in C group is to leave extra room, and if you need to wait a few corners, do so. Riders are figuring things out, so best to be sure your pass is safe with plenty of margin for error.
When we get into the B group, things tend to get interesting. Of all of the groups, this is the one that ends up with the widest range of skill levels in one group. You have riders who have just graduated from C group, and riders who are ready to go into A group, and everyone in between who’s advancing their skills. This creates the group where passing becomes the biggest issue. You will also find a huge variation in bikes, with powerful 1000cc bikes with riders who are still learning and more experienced riders on small displacement 250s all in one group. This creates a special hazard where we have bikes that are very fast, with riders who skills are still growing with slower bikes that know what they are doing, often resulting in frustration for both parties as the 250s pass the bigger bikes in all the corners, but the bigger bikes have serious power in any straight.
Passing in this situation needs to be given a little more consideration. Most riders in this group should know the track relatively well, and understand where they are going. Passing becomes something that needs to be done for the comfort of the other rider, not yourself. If that 250 is passing you in all the corners, hang back behind them on the straight and learn something about how to handle the more technical sections. If you’re on the smaller bike, time to practice your passing techniques and learning to plan your passes so once you complete the pass you have time to put distance between yourself and the other rider. And remember, ALWAYS pass for the OTHER rider’s comfort!