An exclusive insight of ATAC’s (ALPHA Training Academy) newly formed MiniGP Novice training program.
Last weekend, we were offered an exclusive slot in the third running of ATAC’s Novice MiniGP riding course held on Saturday in the PLUS Speedway, Subang. This gave us a proper insight into one of the most unique, yet effective rider courses available in Malaysia currently. Last weekend was the firm’s third successful Novice class after holding two other sessions previously in the Sepang International Circuit.
On hand as trainers are active Malaysian Super Series (MSS) rider Remon Azreem, assisted by California Superbike School (CSS) alumni Haizal Omar. The program’s key mission is to firstly educate riders in the essentials of track riding preparations, understanding the requirements of bike preparations for track, and to instil correct track riding techniques amongst participants. With these knowledge, the ultimate goal however is for participants to enjoy improving their fast laps safely.
The classes are small and limited to just 10 pax per session. Explaining the reasoning behind this policy, course trainer Haizal states that this will ensure greater teaching effectiveness by having a trainer-to-student ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 at all times. This way, participants will absorb their new knowledge with greater ease as well. ATAC also has an Intermediate and Advanced stage programs besides the Novice program we participated in.
The course teaches participants using rental Kayo 150cc MiniGP bikes available in the PLUS Speedway Go Kart Circuit. Besides the obvious size difference, and the racing-style five-speed manual transmission, these MiniGP bikes are identical to actual-sized bikes and stands as one of the most perfect training tools available that is both safe and cost-effective.
Intensive Theory Classroom
The full-day Novice course is divided into two sessions, the first of which being a 2 and a half hour-long intensive theory class. The classroom-based theory course includes an on-bike demonstration session before an the second session’s equally intensive on-track drill course.
The classroom modules covers the very basics of track riding preparation, as well as detailed steps towards preparing both rider and machine. Teachings here include correct handlebar adjustments, tyre pressure and suspension setting, as well as the all important rule of ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time). Riders are also given detailed teachings about cornering lines and apexes, as well as ideal braking points, plus correct head and eye movement for increased cornering vision.
The same amount of focus is applied with the on-bike demonstration part. Here, the module covers ideas such as correct riding body positions and postures, cornering techniques, as well as advanced visual sighting techniques. The theory class is designed for riders to combat common amateur mistakes. This includes learning the correct way to grip a tank whilst under braking, the ideal body hang-out position for cornering, as well as the correct use of hips-on-tank instead of arms-on-handles technique when switching over in back-to-back corners. The classroom session ends with a quick briefing of the on-track drills.
Following a short meal break after the classroom session, participants and instructors will then suit up for the on-track sessions. The session begins with a three-lap familiarisation and warm up stint, allowing riders to fully grasp the course’ braking points and cornering lines. Instructors aid the process even further with on-track ‘X’ markings using duct tape placed strategically.
After this, participants will then break up into three groups to perform on-track drills with an instructor. Each group will undergo several stints, each detailing a specific drill set by the instructor (i.e. correct cornering line, correct body position and posture, correct visual sighting, etc).
At the end of each drill stint, a debriefing is conducted. The debrief will allow instructors to give feedback based on their observations, followed by additional guidance in fine-tuning each participant’s riding style. After concluding all the drills, participants will then be granted with an open free run session until the day’s scheduled end time.
After a full day out with the ATAC trainers and participants in last weekend’s Novice class, we can safely report that this program delivers its promises rather well. While the MiniGP bikes may appear as child’s play at first, mastering it proved to be quite challenging, and in our view, also much more effective for learning.
The other beauty of learning on such a small-size is the lowered costs and risks. We say this not only because of the affordable asking price, but the lowered tendency for riders to suffer low- or high-siding. This is a programme we highly recommend to both amateur and seasoned riders alike. Newbies, especially fresh Full-B holders or those in the midst of acquiring one, will find the teachings immensely valuable towards the start of their riding life whilst seasoned veterans can use this as a perfect re-training platform.
And, just like our Time Trials, the program’s circuit and racing-based exercises will definitely play a key role in making riders safer on public roads as well.
Costs, Requirements, & Program Dates
To enter, interested individuals only need to put down the program’s tuition fee of RM699. The price covers circuit and bike rental, as well as food and beverage provisions. Participants are advised to bring their own gears, but rental gears are also available for an additional RM30 and are subject to size availability.
ATAC will conduct more classes following a break to mark the upcoming holy month of Ramadhan. Dates and details can be obtained by following the academy’s frequently updated official Facebook page.
ATAC Novice MiniGP Riding Course 2014 @ PLUS Speedway