Walking the track
Scott Redding's Grand Prix weekend gets underway properly on Thursday afternoon, or Wednesday at Assen, when he does a track walk with the Marc VDS Racing Team's rider coach, Stefan Prein.
The track walk is an important part of Redding's preparation for the weekend ahead, as it's his first opportunity to check the track and see how things have changed since the race at the same circuit 12 months ago.
“On the track walk I'm looking at a number of different things, and filing them away in my head for practice, qualifying and the race,” explains Redding. “Tracks can change a lot in 12 months, so the first thing I look at is the track surface, to see if has degraded since we were last at the track. I'm also looking for changes in the tarmac, where parts of the track have maybe been resurfaced, as the grip levels can change between old tarmac and new.”
“I also pay particular attention to the kerbs, to identify which kerbs I can use on the inside and outside of the turns without unsettling the bike too much. I also have a good look at the paint used to mark the kerbs, to see if I can still use them in the wet, or if I need to steer well clear of them because they'll be slippery.”
“It was raining here at Assen this morning, so I'm also checking to see if there are places on the track where maybe the drainage is not so good and puddles are likely to form. This is important in the race, because when you're on the limit and trying to pass on the brakes running through a puddle can be disastrous!”
“I'll discuss with Stefan the possible lines through each turn, and how each turn links into the next. Sometimes you need to sacrifice speed in one turn to set yourself up better for the next, which can then gain you more time overall. This is where Stefan's help is really useful; he's raced at this level and often he sees things that I maybe haven't noticed.”
“I'm also looking for the best places on the track to put in a pass during the race. I know I'm never going to be able to draft past people on the straight, because I'm bigger and heavier than almost all my rivals, so I'm looking for places where I can pass on the brakes, or maybe use a different line to gain an advantage on corner entry or exit.”
“The track walk is important, not just because of what it teaches me about the track, but also because it's the trigger for the weekend; the start of the track walk is the start of the job. From that point on I'm completely focussed on racing.”