If you fancy doing a trackday, but don’t want to take your road bike there or splash out on a track bike, the Yamaha Track Experience might be just what you need.
Joining one of these experiences means that you get a fully supported day at the circuit of your choice, delivered as an 'arrive and ride' package. Basically, you can make your way to the circuit in your shorts and flip flops, and the Yamaha Experience guys will furnish you with a bike, kit and a cuppa. And if you want, you can add some track training to the day too.
The bikes on offer are mostly R7s, but riding an R6 or an R1 is possible too, or even something from the MT range if you prefer a naked ride. Regardless of your bike choice, you will be greeted in the morning with a spotless track weapon ready to ride.
It’s a strange but thoroughly pleasant experience to arrive at the track in the morning, and not have to worry about anything other than signing in for the day. And the feeling continues through the day, as you don’t have to worry about how much fuel you’ve got in the tank, what the tyre pressures are, or any other normal track maintenance chores. It’s all taken care of for you.
I suspect that most people would choose to do the experience at one of the more famous circuits, such as Silverstone or Donington Park, but I opted for Blyton Park, because I knew that at that location you can turn the experience day into a proper school day, as the experience is run in association with the British Superbike School. What that enables you to do is to have your cake and eat it too: you can still enjoy all the benefits of the Track Experience, but combine it with a fully structured riding school day. The day is broken down into specific areas of riding, with one track coach instructing two learners all day, and classroom sessions in between the track sessions. The coaches are all ACU qualified instructors, with a few famous names from the world of racing among them.
The training is excellent, with the coaches able to spot the smallest details in your riding (such as my lazy positioning of my left foot). The feedback is friendly and very useful, and as the day progresses you really feel like you are improving in leaps and bounds.
In between the riding, the classroom sessions are more focussed on different aspects of riding in general, mostly to do with how to ride through corners fast and safely.
The bike I had booked for the day was the Yamaha R7. It’s a great, friendly machine to get on track with if you are a novice or intermediate track rider. The tried and tested 689cc twin engine with 72bhp on offer is very flexible, and you can soon work out how to make the most of it on track. Compared to the R6 it has a lot more bottom end pull, so you don’t have to keep it screaming all the time just get a move on. For more experienced riders the litre-machines may be a more tempting option, but for me the R7 was just the ticket.
Each track session was about 20 minutes, which gave me just enough time to work on my skills and speed, but not too long to completely drain a track novice like me. The best feeling is that hunger for more. And at the end of the day, you just park the bike at the paddock and go home without having to worry about any maintenance, what parts are starting to get to a point where they need need changing, or even cleaning the bike.
Prices for the Yamaha Track Experience days start at £599, so it’s not a cheap day out, but if you are not someone who goes on track very often, and don’t want to invest in a track bike, tyres, consumables etc. it’s a very good way to get your kicks on a track. It’s a very pleasant day, and probably will make you want to go again…
Photos: IMG Photography