With the professional Enduro racing season starting we met up with Davide Sottocornola in Sestri Levante to have a look at and spend some time on a professional Enduro race track much like those we test on frequently in Punta Ala. The aim of our time with Davide was to try and partly understand where professional riders get some of their race speed from.
Davide walked us down the track pointing out lines and features and how to ride them. Then we set about showing how to ride and not ride those sections. We have come up below with a selection of line techniques that show how to take various features and save time and energy. From just a few corners done well, and a few sections hucked correctly 10-20 seconds can be made up on those who choose to take the slower line. In modern day Enduro racing that can mean the difference between winning and being in 20th position.
Davide with his Enduro bike, speed is about lines not just bikes.
Correct Lines For High Speed Corners
Davide Sottocornola explains how to correctly link up a high speed corner, and maintain speed.
At the first corner of interest Davide shows us the correct line, actually suggesting to stay on the apex and cut the corner. Unfortunately most riders tend to take the outside line, this is incorrect as it sets riders up badly for the corner’s exit.
Here Davide enters the corner incorrectly. The tree is close and the bike is out of control for the exit, causing Davide to slow down and loose 2 seconds.
The correct entry to the corner, maintaining speed and stability, Davide brakes less and heads smoothly to the exit.
This is why, the rider is now set up for the following corner, he can maintain speed as he exits the corner. Before hand Davide was pushed hard over to the left, slowing his speed and risking leaving the track on the extreme right on the second corner apex.
Davide hits the berm perfectly in the next corner after his correct line through to the entrance on the right.
Correct Lines For Low Speed Corners
When corners are tighter and slower correct technique is also required to try and stop loosing speed and stalling in the corner. Here Davide shows us a correct entry route for a tight left hander with a drop in level.
Davide explains that in this situation many riders are hitting the corner straight on towards the left of the shot, this is making each rider loose around 3 seconds in the corner and lots of speed.
Here Davide shows the incorrect method in the corner. The bike is slow to stopping, and badly lined up some what obliquely for the exit.
Davide enters the corner correctly on the far right, the bike is already starting to be set up and flow on to the berm, maintaining speed.
No oblique change of direction here.
Davide exits the corner with speed and gains 3 seconds in total.
Line Choice in Rough Sections
When the trail straightens up features can become less easy to understand, although they might look simple, as precious time can be saved by maintaining speed and trusting the bike to roll over certain sections.
The centre line of this section of track is the correct line to take, although on first view it looks harder. The left hand side of the photo is where most people pass, which actually kills speed as there is a more abrupt change in track transition to the flat surface after the feature.
Here Davide seemingly has speed.
However he is forced to turn more and his weight is slung forward more over the bike, as he absorbs the energy of the transition.
Taking the centreline, and popping over the rock downwards gives a straighter line.
Here the bike is more balanced as it flows down a smoother rock transition.
At the bottom of the section the bike transitions more smoothly and Davide manages to keep his weight more balanced. The next corner is more easily entered.
Line Choice On A Chute
This section of the track actually drops riders down steeply in a short space. Here Davide recommends that to maintain speed it is better to go high then low, down the side of the chute.
Davide shows us to take the high line for speed.
This is the incorrect but most taken line, leads to the bike compressing more in the transition to flat trail at the bottom.
Go high at the start.
Keep it wide.
Maintain it wide and the bike will flow through the transition to flat trail.
Looking For Expert Lines
Walking down the track a little further Davide spotted a small jump that would save maybe 3-4 seconds of time, just you need to be an expert rider to hit it.
Davide spotted a way over this corner to the left taking off from where the photographers foot is.
Speed, style, execution…
Hold it steady…
With a fast flat landing for a perfect entry into the next corner. When we rode this we reckon this expert line saved maybe 5 seconds and countless amounts of energy. In all honesty it wasn’t that obvious to the normal rider, so we started to understand where pros get there fast time’s from, it all seems to be about smoothing the track.