How important is getting the holeshot?
Just ask Jimmy Albertson.
In Round 16 of the 2014 Supercross series in East Rutherford, NJ Albertson took the holeshot in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) and won the race. Had he not grabbed the holeshot, he might never have made it into the Main. See the action below and what happens just prior to Albertson grabbing the holeshot.
Some say half the race is won during the start, others go a step further and say getting the holeshot is 90 percent of the race. In either case, whether Supercross or Motocross, in every race there's two races to be won: The holeshot and of course the checkered flag. Your chances of winning the checkered flag greatly increase if you get the holeshot.
The holeshot goes to whoever is fastest to the first turn at the start of the race. Whoever rounds the turn and crosses what is usually a chalked white line first gets the holeshot. Many races give an additional financial reward to whoever is fastest to the first corner.
It's not easy to do and it's over within seconds of the race starting. You have to be fast, agile and in many respects a bit brave to fend off all the other riders trying to get in front of you and get the holeshot.
Riders ready to start and grab the holeshot
Many riders who grab the holeshot go on to win the race because once out in front you've got all the leverage. If you can get the holeshot and ride the rest of the way error free you've greatly increased your odds of taking the checkered flag or stepping on the podium.
So, how do you get the holeshot? We've outlined some steps below to help you get ahead of everyone else.
This may be a no-brainer but when we say practice we're not talking about spending five minutes of your practice time at the starting gate and the rest jumping triples. If getting the holeshot is indeed 50 percent of the race, then spend 50 percent of your practice time on your starts.
One key to getting the holeshot is how you start the race. Practice gate-drops over and over. One aspect to practicing gate-drops many riders use is peripheral vision. It's been proven that your peripheral vision notices things faster. Watch for the gate to drop using peripheral vision rather than looking directly at the gate in front of you.
It may sound insignificant but that split second reaction to the gate-drop could be what puts you out in front. Check out the Starts and Holeshot with RJ Hampshire video:
- Body Position
Proper body positioning on your bike is crucial to keep you from popping a wheelie and ending up on your back while the rest of the pack leaves you, quite literally, in the dust. If you've ever watched the starting line of a race you'll see all the riders look the same.
A good starting position to get the holeshot is elbows out and your body nearly over the front of the handlebars. This weight towards the front of the bike is crucial when you let the throttle out and the bike takes off. If you're too far back on the bike you're more or less "hanging on" as the bike takes off which pulls the front-end of the bike up and gives you the ultimate wheelie.
Your feet will of course be anchoring you to the ground until the gate drops. Once the gate drops, your feet come up. This too takes repetitive practice so you get used to a fluid motion of bring your feet up in one motion without getting caught on the foot pegs. The longer your feet dangle the more drag and less control you have on the bike.
- Throttle and Clutch
At the gate, you should be ready to take off with your throttle about three-quarters of the way open. Depending on your bike and gearing, you'll typically want to be in second gear on the start. With the bike in gear and the bike revving at three-quarters throttle, let the clutch out enough to just barely be slipping. Keep both feet planted on the ground.
Practice those starts!
You should feel the bike trying to creep forward. So, one finger on the front brake with a little pressure should be enough to keep you from rolling forward. Starting this way, with your bike in gear and the throttle three-quarters of the way open, ensures your bike takes off as soon as you feed the clutch lever out and twist the throttle.
- Concrete and Dirt Starts
Concrete and dirt starts have completely different characteristics and practice helps you determine how to adjust.
On concrete starts, your throttle position is less aggressive than on a dirt start because of slippage. Keeping your body position straight up and centered on the seat rather than a forward position over the handlebars helps give traction to the rear tire.
Your reaction to the gate drop needs to be much more sensitive to feeding the clutch out. Typically, you'll still feed the clutch until both tires get past the gate and in the dirt where the traction is.
It's important to pay attention to your body position and move your upper body forward once off the concrete pad. This will keep you from looping out on the start.
- Holeshot Device
After you get your starts to a level of comfort - some take advantage of a holeshot device. This product locks in your forks after you compress them to lower the front of the bike. This helps in dirt starts and reduces your chance of looping out or wheeling out of control. It also helps transfer weight after the bike reacts to taking off and puts power to the ground.
When practicing it's best to work on the entire start to holeshot motion together. You'll need someone to work the "gate" whether it's a real gate or the drop of a rock. Overall, your starts and getting the holeshot is a primary key to winning a moto. Once you're out in front pin it to the checkered flag.
Written By: AndrewT