Five essential tips for your first time in a track day fast group

Things to think about when you get into the fast group for the first time

By Alan Dowds

AH, the fast group. It’s always a bit of a worry when you hear people talking about it in hushed, reverential tones. It makes perfect sense of course – the people at a track day should be split up according to pace, for safety's sake. A novice trundling round on random lines on a Triumph Tiger 900 isn’t a good mix with some Superstock racer running in their 215hp, slick-shod ZX-10R.

But remember, track days aren't races – there are no trophies on offer. So getting into the 'fast group' isn't a badge of honour – it's merely an administrative safety move.

With that out of the way, here are some tips on what to think about on your first time in the fast/experienced/quick/not-intermediate-or-novice group.

1. You're still the same rider you always were…

Okay, a trackday instructor or organiser has judged that you shouldn't be in the intermediate group today. But that might mean the intermediates are a little slower than normal – it might even mean that he has more spaces free in the fast group and reckons you'll be fine if he shuffles you up there. Don't get carried away with the idea that you've somehow gained an extra ten seconds a lap since you were last here…

You'll be sharing tarmac with the most experienced track riders here today, and they'll expect more from you than in the other groups. So you'll get passed closer and faster, and be given a little less 'leeway'. There shouldn't be anything rash or dangerous – the rules on stuffing up the inside of a bend are still there. But don't panic if two or three fast folk with race bikes rocket past you with millimetres to spare towards the end of the straight…

It's tempting to try to keep in touch with a faster rider – indeed, it's a good way to get quicker, if done in a controlled fashion. But just trying to stay with some random fast rider at a track day isn't the way to do it. Attempting to match the braking points and corner speeds of an unknown rider on an unknown bike is asking for trouble. By all means, pay attention to what they're doing in terms of line etc – but don't just try to blindly copy what's going on in front of you.

Worrying about the other riders won't help them or you. Put them to the back of your mind, and concentrate on your ride. Stick to the basics: accurate placement of bike, body position, methodical applications of power, brakes, steering.

Okay, you're out with 'the big boys', but what's the point if you're not having fun? Relax, don't worry about how fast or slow you're going, and just work on your riding skill set as if you were in the intermediate group.

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