We can never get tired of telling the fact that we are absolutely dedicated to Moto GP, we love the sport to the level where we religiously follow everything about this sport we so dearly love. If you listen to the commentary closely in any of the races, you will know that just how intricately the dirt track training has embedded itself in the lives of the Moto GP riders throughout the paddock.
Speaking of dirt track riding and training, it was made famous when the GP had an explosion of American riders racing and winning, almost all of them had a dirt tracking background. Dirt track racing was seen as a key part of their success. Training on the hard packed dirt, where pushrod twins have far more power than they can ever transfer directly into drive, translated very well into racing 500cc two strokes, which had the same excess of power over grip. As tire technology advanced, and as the number of racers coming out of the US to race on the world stage declined, dirt track fell out of favour.
The dirt track mindset had not disappeared completely: both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden cut their teeth racing on the dirt, and carried that style into Moto GP. Marc Marquez has been an open supporter of the dirt track riding and training discipline as both a great training ground for bike skills and racing aggression, Valentino Rossi has used it to hone his already formidable skills, and to test out new ways of riding and new riding styles.
The difference in approach is visible in the tracks they use to train on. Marc Marquez’s manager Emilio Alzamora managed to persuade the community of Rufea to build a short track oval in the town, not far from Marquez’s home town of Cervera in Spain. Valentino Rossi, who happens to be one of the most famous and the richest sports-persons on the planet, has constructed a huge facility with a wide variety of possible track layouts on private land he owns near his home town of Tavullia in Italy. The Rufea layout is simple: a short oval (two left turns), where Marquez, his brother Alex and friend of the family Tito Rabat train regularly. Their training is aimed at several things: first, at gaining feeling on the bike, understanding how the bike reacts when it is sliding, how to use the power to help turn the bike.
Marquez trains without a front brake, using the rear brake and throttle to help control the bike and slow it for a turn. Races are held frequently, to train aggression and hone race-specific skills: where gaps open up, how to spot them and exploit them, not to fear the close proximity of other riders, how to survive contact. Tito Rabat hailed the practice sessions at the circuit as one of the keys to his championship victory in Moto2, not just in terms of riding skills, but especially in terms of race craft, and aggression during the race.
The layout at Rossi’s VR46 ranch is much more sophisticated. There is a wide variety of left and right turns, of varying speed and radius, which can be combined to create a range of different track layouts, from short and simple to long and complicated. Rossi rides there with a European-style bike, complete with front brake, as fitted to all the bikes at the VR46 ranch. The focus for Rossi seems to be much more about honing riding skills, rather than learning about racing aggression. The way the corners flow and combine, teach riders more about handling a bike through difficult sections when it is moving underneath you than about pure race aggression.
The wide difference in corner layouts – from very tight to fast and flowing, from reducing radius to wide open – mean that there is a chance to practice different approaches, different riding styles to deal with different types of corner. Rossi trains there with friends and fellow riders regularly, as well as with the young riders from his VR46 Rider Academy, an initiative to help nurture young Italian talent. Like Marquez, Rossi races frequently, especially with the youngsters, to help retain his aggressive edge.
Two Different Riders, two different riding styles and One incredible competitive fire to win inside both of their hearts. Rossi and Marquez are going to fight out in every race at least till 2016.
Whichever way the upcoming seasons go at Moto GP, but it a fact that dirt track is back with a vengeance. The switch to spec electronics in 2016 will see even more emphasis on rider throttle control, as the sharpest edges are taken off the extreme sophistication of the current generation of factory electronics.
Dirt track facilities are springing up all over Europe, especially in Spain. Kenny Noyes has been running the highly successful Noyes Camp program for a couple of years now, and a new facilty has just been added closer to Barcelona.
Then of course there’s the Superprestigio, an invitation event in which the best flat trackers in the world take on the best road racers in the world (as well as the best Supermoto, enduro and trials riders in the world) on an indoor short track oval in Barcelona, on December 13th, 2014. This event is helping to spread the popularity dirt track even further, among fans who know little of the discipline.
We look forward to see India too jumping on the bandwagon and ups the ante to breed and train world class racers in the conuntry. One thing is for sure, there is no desrth of talent in our part of land, it is just a matter of correct infrastructure to be laid out and we can move fast and high on the world motorcycle racing arena. here, we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Watch Video's from the Rossi's Ranch and The Marquez Oval after the jump -
Rossi's Ranch -
Marquez Oval -