Yamaha Track Experience - What to expect from your first track day at Snetterton

Alex for Visordown was invited to the Yamaha Track Experience at Snetterton, brush up on his riding skills on the R6 & Niken, plus Jason O’Halloran tips!

yamaha track experience first track day visordown

TRACK DAYS are the epitome of riding, it’s the only place you can really push a motorcycle (and yourself) to the true limit. So when the email from the Yamaha Track Experience arrived inviting me on a track day with McAMS Yamaha BSB rider Jason O’Halloran, I was ecstatic to say the least. 

Yamaha operates their Track Experience at the top circuits in the UK, including Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton & Donington. Snetterton is my local, and having spectated there a few times in the past, I wanted to finally get a few laps of the fast & flowing circuit under my belt. 

A perfect time to mention that this would be my first time on track, which makes the experience package even more perfect - Yamaha provide the fleet of motorcycles to pick from on the day: R6, R1, MT-09 SP, & the Niken. Plus the racing leathers, the fuel, coffee, and even wheeling the bike out into the pitlane for your session, it’s all included. Genuinely all I had to do was arrive & ride. 

Go and catch the track day bug - but don’t send me the bill!

I mentioned briefly above that track days open you up to really use bikes to their true limit - and my plans mostly involved getting up to speed on the Yamaha R6, refining my riding skills on a perfect track day weapon before I no doubt catch the bug. 

Whilst R1 was glistening in the corner and beckoning me over, something was telling me it’d be more beneficial to focus on one ride for the day and hone my skills on the R6 for now. 

Plus, it was something I could use right to the limit, and not get too excited and do anything silly. Level headed and that.

Anyway, the R1 can wait for another day. 

Track day tips for Snetterton

Here's a track map of the Snetterton 300 circuit. Circuit info on the Snetterton website.

Originally an RAF airfield in 1943, Snetterton is a circuit around 3 miles in length, with two long straights and a couple of fast infield portion, paired with sweeping sections that soon become second nature - ideal for litre bikes like the R1, great fun on the R6 too.

Vastly flat and open (go ‘arn Norfolk), Snetterton is a fast and flowing circuit - before being updated by MSV it used to consist of only right-hand turns, but with the added infield section the left side of your tyre warms up just as quick as the right, typically in a couple of laps.

Heading out on the sighting laps is a chance to take it steady, with last-minute cramming of track guides the night before coming to mind like it was an important test. Oh, remember to put on your wristband - no reason I bring that up (yes, I forgot to put mine on).

The novice group I was out with consisted of a proper mix of bikes and abilities - some SV650 riders, some KTM 1290 Super Dukes, even a Honda NC750 - but the R6 was able to keep up with the best of them (even on the straights, sort of).

A few pointers from a humble novice, before we hear from Jason O’Halloran…

  • You’ve got around 20 minutes per session (barring any red flags), so let your tyres - and you - warm up before you really start pushing it.
  • Use the sighting lap to get a feel for track conditions, brake markers, and locations of the marshals for their flags.
  • Snetty tip: Watch out for the Brundle-to-Nelson flip-flap, you’ll be coming in hot after the Bentley Straight and under the bridge. Stay left after Brundle and set yourself in the right gear.
  • Ride your own ride, don’t follow other riders lines. Don’t ogle riders who have gone off, either - you’ll distract yourself.
  • Lastly, don’t be Billy-big-bollocks in the novice group and divebomb people into corners last minute because you’re feeling confident - you’ll cause problems for you and the other rider.

Building up speed slowly and comfortably is the best way here, at the end of the day everyone is there for a laugh. There are no lap times being recorded, speedos are covered up, and there’s really no need to be pushing 100% - especially in the novice group!

Jason O’Halloran top track day tips

It was incredible to have Jason at the track day, and it was a real privilege to share a track with a BSB veteran to say the least. He was whipping round for a few sessions on the R6 at Snetterton, keeping an eye on my riding and surprising a few unwitting riders on track. 

His main tips were: 

  • Set your positioning up on the bike for the track ahead: if a left-hander is followed by a left-hander, hang off the left of the bike between corners - helps by not unsettling the bike before a corner, giving you less to do.
  • When coming out of a corner, you can stand the bike up sooner and still be hanging off a bit - better for acceleration.
  • Pick your gears for corners and try to stick to the same brake markers.
  • Snetterton specific: At turn 2 (Wilson), rather than stay far left until cutting across for the apex (like everyone was on the day), cut a bit right and carry speed into the apex braking the whole way, when at the apex turn in and power out. 

If you fancy hearing more from Jason, check our exclusive review with him from the day.

Yamaha R6 on a track day

The Yamaha R6 is now a track-only special, and is soon to be all-but replaced on the Track Experience with the incoming R7. It’s perfect for the job, in all honesty - it’s light, has grippy road-style Avon AV79 3D Ultra Sport tyres (so no tyre warmers on these as they’re designed to warm up progressively), and quick shifter (up only).

With 116.7BHP @ 14,500 rpm and 61.7Nm torque at 10,500rpm, the R6 was certainly a force on track. Yeah, I could have easily swapped to an R1 after a couple of sessions but really enjoyed getting down with this bike. The more I learnt with it, the more I could push on it, gaining more experience as a rider - there’s always another day for an R1 on track. 

The first few laps I had a couple of squirmy moments on the rear tyre from heavy downshifts, went in a bit hot on Oggies and ran wide a couple of times, and really felt the ABS chatter slowing down at the end of Bentleys Straight and between Palmer & Agostini - standard stuff on your first track day, I guess.

By the end of the day I couldn’t get enough. What a bike, and what a circuit.

Yamaha Niken on a track day

An honourable mention has to go to the bonkers Yamaha Niken, which is an absolute weapon on track. Wheeled out after a spot of rain over lunch, I fancied my chances with an extra wheel. Extra braking power, more grip, more lean, and supreme comfort - the Niken was a head-turner for more than one reason. 

Amusingly, at first, I was using the same brake markers as on the R6, so found myself slowing down far too early for corners on the first couple of laps. Leaning over was excessively easy too, but don’t be fooled, it’ll still topple over at a stop!

With its super-wide spread of torque and power, the updated for 2021 CP3 motor made it almost feel too easy out on track, I would happily do an entire track day on one.

Don't forget, there's also the MT-09 SP & R1 there on the day!

Yamaha Track Experience - everything you need, even the coffee!

Back to the Yamaha Track Experience, it’s bang on if you’re a novice or intermediate rider who fancies a bit of pampering and a luxury riding experience at a track day. Prices range from £299 to £679, with most circuit dates falling in the middle of the range. 

The Yamaha Track Experience guys provide everything you need on the day, you just turn up and ride with the other guys and girls on the experience. You’ll have a chance to natter in between sessions - you’re all there for the same passion after all - the guys were telling me it’s pretty common for riders to turn up strangers and leave as best buds!

You start feeling like a bit of a Marc Marquez to be honest, bikes wheeled out for you before you leave the pit, it’s as close as most people will get!

The VIP Yamaha experience

If you haven’t been on a track day before, do it. Genuinely it’s the only chance you will have to really experience some of these bikes for what they’re meant for - top speeds and maybe even getting your knee down. You really come away with far more skill on a bike than you’d believe.

If you want to dip your toe in the water without sinking a few thousand pounds into a track day bike, or taking your own beloved on circuit, give the Yamaha Track Experience guys a call first. 

Not only will your own bike not be on the line (definitely take out their extra insurance cover in case you bin it), it’s a brilliant day with like-minded riders on bikes that are basically built for these circuits - and they take all the hassle out of the day so you can just focus on riding.

I came away from this whole experience feeling like a much more confident rider, trying stuff that you can’t replicate on the road without handing in your licence in the process.

I think I’ve caught the bug. I know what I’ll be asking Santa Claus for this year. And the next...

Check out the Yamaha Track Experience website for dates and bookings, you won't regret it.

Huge thanks goes to Yamaha for having me!

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