Monday 17th December: Tracks Closed.

Dirt Isn't Just Dirt

Track Differences between GP & US

maddix park mx

www.racerxonline.com 

Here is the question: (linked to Ryan Villopoto's relatively poor result at the the first round of the FIM GP in Qatar)

My question is, what is so different about the GP tracks that separate them from those here in the U.S.? Is it how they groom them? Are the turns less/more rutted, the jumps bigger? As a layman, I assume braking bumps, chopped-out ruts and blue groove happens on European soil the same as it does in the U.S. What is so different about setting a bike up for a MX track in Europe, Qatar, Thailand etc… as opposed to one in the States?

And here is Ping's (David Pingree's) response :

I was as surprised as anybody when I saw the results from the opening round in Qatar. I knew Ryan was taking on a lot by jumping into that series, including all of the things you mentioned and more. I know it seems like dirt is dirt and it shouldn’t be that big of a transition, but it's a whole other world. I never raced GPs but I went over and did a couple Masters of Motocross events in the late 1990s, and their idea of how a track should look is very different from ours. In the States we till the dirt very deep and water it until it is a soupy mess. The opening practice is typically a muddy affair and by race time that creates numerous ruts, which are deep and sticky. The braking bumps that build are waist deep and made of soft, spongy dirt. This leaves a softer, tackier racing surface throughout the day with a soft cushion around the edge if you get off the racing line. We only have one day of racing, and if the track is ridden by amateurs the day prior it's prepped completely before pro day. Of course each track here is a little different, but we’ve adopted a certain way of prepping tracks and that method is used by every pro venue. The GP tracks run a long series of practice and qualifying events throughout the day on Saturday. Tracks aren’t ripped up as deep so they don’t get the massive ruts and bumps but more shallow ruts and small, sharp chop. The biggest kicker is that they don’t touch the track from Saturday to Sunday. Water is put down and the GPs' finest head out Sunday morning on a track that already has a full day of riding on it. As you can imagine the traction goes away quickly and the racing surface becomes slick with chatter bumps and sharp holes around it. So, the bike has a much stiffer suspension setup and a more aggressive engine package to ride the tracks harder. The GPs require a much softer suspension and an engine that rolls on very easily and doesn’t have too much hit that would break the rear wheel loose. Belgian sand is the obvious exception to this rule, but I think you’ll hear that Ryan abandons more of his US settings and goes to something softer that will work better over there.

 
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