Date reviewed: April 2023 | Tested by: Michael Mann | Price: £400 | Road Race Rider Coaching Facebook Page
Forget tyre warmers, a generator, a BBQ, and two clicks on the rear… the next step towards winning Inters at your next track day is to bring along your own data engineer. Despite the Road Race Rider Coaching title, Jordan Malton offers a one-to-one track-based rider coaching service which is the most comprehensive I’ve ever witnessed. Why? Because he uses two on-bike cameras and a heap of GPS-sourced data to analyse your riding, and he’s completely dedicated to you. But that’s not all. His own race experience adds the extra dimension of interpreting that data and using it to fine tune ahead of the next session. He's yours and yours alone for the day, and a thoroughly nice chap too.
He's also offering BikeSocial members an offer on his services, so I invited him along to our Bennetts Track Day at Oulton Park to see what he could do for this creaky 43-year-old who’d not ridden on track for 10 months.
My wagon for the day was a Yamaha R7 from our Track Day partners, Moto Events Ltd, who run the Yamaha Track Experience, and it had been equipped with some K-Tech suspension, a Pipe Werx exhaust and a quickshifter, though throwing a 70bhp, 689cc parallel twin into the Advance Group mix along with many ex-race bikes and litre sportsbikes was going to have been firmly focused on my performance, let alone having two cameras, a datalogger, an ex-racer, and the audience of the accompanying video critiquing it.
Jordan arrived two hours ahead of the first session to fix the two Drift cameras with his bespoke mounts, plus the GPS data logger holder, a 3D printed device made specifically. He’d prepped a track map divided up into corners which show the optimum line, apex, braking zones and acceleration zones which we talked through ahead of my first session. We’d also spoken on the ‘phone beforehand so he could get an idea of my ability and experience, and therefore tailor his approach.
“A faster bike won’t make you a better rider,” he tells me as I mention my 70bhp vs. Advanced Group riders concern. It’s not a circuit where outright speed matters, and one where the superbike folk won’t need 6th gear. Oulton Park is a complex place to learn with late apexes, fast corners, undulations, and inappropriately placed bumps. My last jaunt around here was on Glenn Irwin’s BSB-spec Fireblade two years prior. A completely different kettle of fish. I’d even written about the Fireblade, “Momentum, accuracy, and confidence in the machine all require bravery and they’re all key elements to getting around this place well. It’s rewarding like no other with fast, blind crests, straights that aren’t straight, and plenty of nearby scenery.” And the same applies for the R7 because even though I’m 170bhp lighter, Clay Hill and Water Tower are still fast – 5th gear and flat out on the Yamaha, by the third session.
Other than a flick through the track map beforehand, Jordan wanted to assess my level from the first session and let me get reacquainted with the circuit and bed the brand new Dunlops in too. Half-a-dozen laps later and we have a benchmark, though there’s also a few pointers.
Like any motorcycle riding course, any rider of any ability will be able to make gains from RRRC, but realistically it’s those with the right attitude who want to learn, and have the adaptability to use the track sessions to practice who’ll get the most. Realistically, Jordan’s set up will benefit amateur racers and fast group guys and girls who are looking to improve lap times. He describes his service as, “Gears, throttle, braking, Data give us an indication on how accurate you’re being with throttle on, throttle off, g-forces, lines, how hard you get on the throttle – combined together it paints this really clear picture.”
The evidence can then be dissected frame-by-frame in the post-session debrief sitting at his table having downloaded the proof to his tablet. I’ve never ridden on track with such an emphasis on learning – I usually turn up, ride around and around until the tyres are knackered, then go home happy without really knowing what I’ve gained from it. Whereas having a pro interpret what I’m doing and pointing out ‘simple’ fixes earned me seconds worth of time per lap.
“Initially we look at tidying lines and gear changes which can be seen and heard through the camera,” says Jordan. “It’s different with different clients. We’re not chasing lap times, they are a really good indication that we’re going in the right direction. A lot of riders that come to me are at a wall, they can’t go any quicker and when they try, they start crashing. Ultimately, there’s a lot of fundamentals that they’re not getting right and they’re not understanding what it is, so we identify what the problems are, and we tidy things up like the brake markers and the turn-in points, and as soon as those improvements all come together, they chop a little bit of time off each lap. You’re a good example because I ask you to do something and within two sessions you’ve completed the task, so as you’re getting faster throughout the day new challenges are arising.”
Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks, and I am like a sponge when it comes to wanting to be better at something I really enjoy. Ok, so I’d not been on track for some time so the initial gains could be attributed to feeling rusty and unfamiliar with bike and track but then came the better lines, later apexes, faster corner entry, smoother transition from the initial braking zone into the turn. A multitude of elements have to come together perfectly for the ideal lap, and by identifying then fine tuning a handful per session resulted in a true sense of achievement underlined by the lap times and an overall better approach to Oulton Park. In advance of my next track day I’ll be approaching it with more sense of what I want to take away from the day – from identifying brake markers, turn-in points, gear selection and so on. All of which can be fine tuned throughout the day.
Having the data to back it all up might be missing but having witnessed it and understood my own style a little more, I should be able to focus on how I can be quicker and enjoy it more.
A key element to any riding course will be using your eyes, looking ahead and plotting your route. It’s the same on track as it is on the road. The elements used to plan your way through Turn 1 at Oulton Park in the most effective manner can be translated to roads that you’re familiar with. Think of it as a challenge to be a smoother rider, to upset the balance of the bike less, or simply to practice judging a corner.
If you’re a BikeSocial member (free if you insure your bike directly with Bennetts, or available at £6/month or £60/year), then you Jordan’s offering a free online tutorial worth £40 with every full day booking (starting at £400) which can be used before or after the track day itself.
Equally, to hire a Yamaha R7 for the day from Moto Events / Yamaha Track Experience, including fuel (though tyre warmers and stands are optional extras) is £386, though BikeSocial members can save 10%. Other Yamaha models are available to hire, and it’s hassle free, you just turn up, sign a disclaimer, ride, then go home.
Track-based training with ex-racers as instructors are nothing new. If you sign up at any track day, especially the Bennetts ones (!) there’ll be instructors waiting to help by riding in front and behind before offering their opinion on where you can improve. John McGuinness and Peter Hickman attend the Bennetts days and are available to have their impressive rider brains picked too. Though nothing really exists to the same level of Road Race Rider Coaching in terms of the one-to-one dedication over the whole day. California Superbike School Level 4 use cameras to record sessions and the footage is interpreted afterwards, while MotoDNA is due to unveil a track-based version of its Street Skills 101 course in 2023.
Several manufacturers with sportsbikes in their line-up also run their own course, including Ducati, Yamaha, and BMW.