Leading out front in the first turn of a Motocross race not only gives you substantial advantage to win but comes with a fair amount of cash. The holeshot, that first turn, is in many respects, the first finish line.
Most ATV races provide a bonus incentive to grabbing the holeshot and others like the Mtn. Dew ATV MX National Championship have a Holeshot Championship - awarding points to whoever gets the holeshot in every Moto and crowning a Champion at the end of the season.
More than that, leading the field at the start of a race is the best and in many respects the easiest way to winning or at least stepping on the podium to get points and compete in the title hunt for the length of a season. Getting out in front of 20 other riders gives you all the leverage and if you're good, you can prevent anyone from passing you. But grabbing the holeshot is not easy. It's also not just about speed.
Whether you're ATV racing as a weekend warrior or a full-fledged pro riding regional sanctioned Motocross events, competing for the holeshot is the first step to winning a Moto.
1. Win Your Heat Race
Of course you want to qualify for the Main event but where you place in the pre-qualifiers or Heat races gives you better gate choice. Winning your qualifying Heat race(s) puts you in charge of where you line up at the gates for the Moto. If you're forced to the outside because you qualified last, you'll have a very difficult time getting out front at the start because you're already at a disadvantage.
So how do you win your heat race? It all starts with grabbing the holeshot.
Practice your starts. Getting a solid jump on the field at the beginning puts you on a B-line to the holeshot. Forcing your competitors to go around you for the pass adds even more distance for them, which means advantage - You.
Allow as much practice to your starts and getting used to the blazing speed required to get around the first turn as you would for cornering and jumps. It's been said that 50 percent of a Motocross race is won with the holeshot. So don't spend less than that during practice.
3. Body Position
When you practice get the correct body position down. If you're new to the sport, check out a race as a spectator and look at the gate line-up just prior to the start. Every rider looks nearly identical in their stance on the bike.
- Elbows out
- Body forward, towards the front of the ATV
Don't sit, that puts you in the center of the quad and definitely don't lean back. It's actually quite easy to loop out on an ATV. Get your feet planted on the Nerf Bars and if you don't have them installed, don't race until you do. Check out 5 Mistakes ATV Beginners Make.
Practice gets your mind and body used to the power and builds the core strength needed to hang on and carry through that first turn. Remember, you've got 20 other riders next to you riding at the same speed all vying to get out front.
4. Know How to Hit the Gas
If you've got a thumb throttle push it in, if you're riding a regular twist throttle open it up! But make sure you got the clutch and brake figured out too. You don't want to stall, you'll never catch up. Most racers start in second gear with the throttle about three-quarters open. Once you've done this the first time you'll realize how easy it is to loop out and you'll also understand the importance of Nerf bars.
As for the brake hold it down just enough where you can feel the quad ready to burst. It's a juggling act between the throttle, clutch and brake. That's why it takes so much practice. The opposite of stalling is jumping the gate and you don't want either.
5. Concrete and Dirt Starts
Depending on the venue, the start is either concrete or dirt. Both provide unique characteristics and though a 4-wheeler closes the gap in differences, you'll still need to prepare for both.
Concrete starts require less throttle aggression because of slippage, a facet also countered through body position. Don't lean so much towards the front rather keep your body position centered on the seat. This gives more traction to the rear tire and once you're on dirt you resume the forward attack position. You'll also need to be on your toes (figuratively and literally) in terms of the gate drop and feeding the clutch. Use your peripheral vision to watch the gate drop. A half second jump can be the difference.
As you can see, it all comes down to practice and preparation. Nothing beats a live race either so enter as many as feasibly possible to get "real time" competition experience and even attend some just as a fan. Learn from your mistakes and watch those riders who consistently lead the field.
Written By: AndrewT