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MotoGP Track Riding Experience For The Masses

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Hurst navigates turns 1 to 2, a beautiful series perfect for practicing trail-braking and quick turning.
Hurst navigates turns 1 to 2, a beautiful series perfect for practicing trail-braking and quick turning. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Sometimes a dream spins rampant in your head. Riding MotoGP Circuits in Europe, for example. How many of you dream of checking one, two, or more of these incredible tracks off your bucket list? What if you could do that, and ride two-up with two-time World Superbike champion Troy Corser?

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Jordan Royds (Canadian National roadracer), Cat MacLeod (owner of Leod Escapes motorcycle tours with Track Time), Connor Funk (AMA Pro roadracer), and author Misti Hurst, all posing with Troy Corser.
Jordan Royds (Canadian National roadracer), Cat MacLeod (owner of Leod Escapes motorcycle tours with Track Time), Connor Funk (AMA Pro roadracer), and author Misti Hurst, all posing with Troy Corser. ( www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

In 2012, Corser joined The Race Academy where he worked extensively with Marcel Kramer, former French Superbike racer and current head of Racing School Europe (RSE), to develop a rider training program. I was fortunate to ride in Spain at Motorland Aragón last year with The Race Academy. At the end of 2018, the program was redesigned, and the following year the new Racing School Europe was launched offering courses at iconic tracks like Mugello, Brno, Slovakiaring, and, new for 2020, Jerez. Of course, I had to ride with them again, this time at the famed MotoGP Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!

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Corser, Hurst, and her instructor Nico Dmyszewicz at the end of the final day. Certificates and pictures with Troy are given to all students.
Corser, Hurst, and her instructor Nico Dmyszewicz at the end of the final day. Certificates and pictures with Troy are given to all students. ( www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Just 45 minutes from Barcelona, this beautiful track is surrounded by several smaller towns. I stayed in a cute inexpensive boutique hotel in Granollers, a 12-minute drive away (booking accommodations was super simple online with many available options in all price ranges). On a crisp early fall morning, I made my way into the pits and felt like I was visiting with old friends once again. Being a riding coach with the California Superbike School for the past 15 years, I find it worthwhile to ditch the coaching hat and be a student; there is always room to improve your own riding!

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Day 1 excitement! Contributor Misti Hurst (former AMA Pro roadracer and California Superbike School coach) is stoked to be heading out to ride Circuit de Catalunya for the first time!
Day 1 excitement! Contributor Misti Hurst (former AMA Pro roadracer and California Superbike School coach) is stoked to be heading out to ride Circuit de Catalunya for the first time! (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

As an official partner of BMW Motorrad, RSE offers 2019 BMW S 1000 RR M package motorcycles with Metzeler RR K3 tires starting from just 329 euros per day plus course entry fee (roughly $368 USD). Full riding gear including boots, gloves, one-piece suit, and helmet are included, as are rain tires if needed. An optional upgrade package (250–300 euros; $279–$335 USD) is available for riders seeking more grip, which includes Metzeler Racetec slick tires, pit-box spot, bike stands, and tire warmers.

Marcel Kramer giving the Throttle Steering Briefing on day 1. Classes are taught in English even though students and staff come from all over the world and speak many different languages.
Marcel Kramer giving the Throttle Steering Briefing on day 1. Classes are taught in English even though students and staff come from all over the world and speak many different languages. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Each day includes briefings by either Corser or Kramer, five 20-minute on-track riding sessions with instructors, and then discussion and video review after each ride. We were split into groups of three students and I was paired with Ron Veldhuizen (former motorcycle instructor for the Dutch army and a trackday enthusiast) for the first two days.

RSE student studying a map of the challenging Circuit de Catalunya. Double-apex corners, elevation changes, and some technical corners make this a tricky track to learn quickly.
RSE student studying a map of the challenging Circuit de Catalunya. Double-apex corners, elevation changes, and some technical corners make this a tricky track to learn quickly. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

The fast and flowing 2.8-mile, 13-corner circuit was made more challenging by several double-apex and downhill first-gear turns! It’s a track that has a little bit of everything, long straights, fast sweepers, elevation changes, and technical slow corners. To go really fast requires precise timing and extremely accurate lines.

Riders from all over the world gather to ride with RSE. Epic group shot after three incredible days on the track.
Riders from all over the world gather to ride with RSE. Epic group shot after three incredible days on the track. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Riding techniques covered in the curriculum include the “ins and outs of racing technology.” Things like body position and prepositioning, trail-braking, throttle steering, visual skills and reference points, tension and pressure on the bars, foot positioning, gear selection, and engine-braking were covered extensively. Putting more attention and focus on what gear I was in combined with engine-braking was certainly the biggest takeaway for me. That along with the lesson on trail-braking was where I was able to build confidence.

Photographers’ view from the end of the 180 mph straight, entering turn 1.
Photographers’ view from the end of the 180 mph straight, entering turn 1. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

RSE offers track instruction for a variety of riding abilities. When booking they ask a few questions about the amount of trackdays ridden, lap times, and race experience, and students sign up as either Beginner, Advanced, Experienced, or Racer. We had riders from Canada, USA, Europe, Mexico, Lebanon, Australia, and Panama. Some had never ridden on a track before, and some were professional racers like AMA Pro roadracer Connor Funk, Canadian National racer Jordan Royds, and 16-year-old British talent and Red Bull Rookies Cup racer Max Cook.

Hurst works hard to practice a slightly different body and foot position than she is used to.
Hurst works hard to practice a slightly different body and foot position than she is used to. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

“Troy is teaching me stuff here that even after 10 years of riding, I don’t even know!” Max said. How fascinating to be in Europe, riding a stunning track with like-minded people speaking different languages, all brought together by motorcycles!

Hurst hitting the first apex of turn 11. Catalunya has several double-apex corners that require some really solid reference points and midcorner patience.
Hurst hitting the first apex of turn 11. Catalunya has several double-apex corners that require some really solid reference points and midcorner patience. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

During the first two days I worked mainly on learning the track, fine-tuning my reference points, being more accurate with my lines, and experimenting with different riding and foot positions.

However, the third day was where I was able to implement the most changes. After some student/coach changes (Funk, Royds, and I were put with Nico Dmyszewicz) we got to work. “You’re fast midcorner,” Nico told me, “but I close the gap on the drives out.” He pushed me to be more patient at turn entry, trail the brakes longer into the corner, and sacrifice some midcorner speed (especially in the long double-apex corners) to get faster on exit. This helped with overall corner exit drives and was key to me finally improving on my previous best time.

Day 1, Hurst followed by instructor Ron Veldhuizen, who films part of the session for review during the break.
Day 1, Hurst followed by instructor Ron Veldhuizen, who films part of the session for review during the break. ( www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

As Marcel stated in the throttle control briefing, “If you want to accelerate fast out of a corner, you need to think in straight lines. Because you can’t accelerate out if the bike is still leaned over. It’s not about who is on the throttle first, but who is full throttle first.”

Hurst leads other RSE students. The abilities of the students ranged from first-time track riders to seasoned enthusiasts and pro roadracers.
Hurst leads other RSE students. The abilities of the students ranged from first-time track riders to seasoned enthusiasts and pro roadracers. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Corser also talks a lot about gear selection and “back shifting” (or downshifting) to utilize engine-braking to help stabilize the bike. “It’s called chain force,” he explained. “When you back shift, it actually pulls on the bottom of the chain and brings the back of the bike down even harder into the road. So what you get is a planted feel. That’s why gears and where you shift them are so important.”

These are all things I know, but having video footage and different sets of eyes following and explaining things really helped. As did riding two-up (pillion) with Troy.

Hurst fine-tuning reference points, consistency, and accuracy. In order to go really fast at this circuit, very specific RPs and spot-on lines are required.
Hurst fine-tuning reference points, consistency, and accuracy. In order to go really fast at this circuit, very specific RPs and spot-on lines are required. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

Last year at Aragón I reluctantly did it, and by reluctantly I mean I almost didn’t do it, and I screamed and swore the entire time! There I experienced firsthand how stable the motorcycle can feel while trail-braking after downshifting into first gear and carrying the brakes as Troy says, “Sooner, softer, and longer into the corner.”

RSE student and AMA 600 Superstock champion Connor Funk and Hurst putting their heads down and busting out some fast laps.
RSE student and AMA 600 Superstock champion Connor Funk and Hurst putting their heads down and busting out some fast laps. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

At Catalunya, I was able to really feel what was meant by sacrificing midcorner speed in order to accelerate harder on exit. We hauled ass into the corners, downshifting early, trail-braking deep, sometimes sliding the rear so we were freaking sideways and then practically parking it midcorner until it was time to simultaneously roll on the gas and stand the bike up, rocketing us out.

RSE student and AMA 600 Superstock champion Connor Funk and Hurst putting their heads down and busting out some fast laps.
RSE student and AMA 600 Superstock champion Connor Funk and Hurst putting their heads down and busting out some fast laps. (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

The combination of downshifting sooner, trail-braking longer, and delaying my throttle roll on, plus the pillion ride, helped me knock a second and a half off my best time, from day 1, for an overall best of 2:01.0. All in all, an incredible three days of riding a wicked-fast and fun track with some seriously amazing people.

“Race Taxi” Troy Corser offers exhilarating two-up rides during all of his events. Sliding the rear and wheelies the entire length of the straightaway are to be expected!
“Race Taxi” Troy Corser offers exhilarating two-up rides during all of his events. Sliding the rear and wheelies the entire length of the straightaway are to be expected! (www.PHOTO-BK.com Benny Kätzmer/)

There really is nothing more incredible then flying to Europe, showing up at a world-renowned MotoGP circuit, and riding motorcycles with like-minded people. Despite the fact that I coach for a different motorcycle riding school, the team at RSE was welcoming, respectful, fun, and successful in passing on some slightly different but helpful riding instruction. One can always learn and improve, and I can’t wait to go back and experience the same kind of riding growth, on a different GP circuit. Talk about packing it all in, and adding some pepper to life. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and, check mark, another MotoGP track off the list.

Check out racing-school-europe.com for more information.

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