It’s the most important part of your race, but how do you get the most out of your start, and more importantly get the holeshot?

Words: Ben Broad    Pics: Alick Saunders

The likes of Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac will tell you that one of, if not the most important part of a race is the start. Your performance off the start will affect the whole race, and being able to nail the start is so important if you are wanting to win. The fastest rider doesn’t always win the race, but putting yourself in a good position and ahead of your closest rivals will give you the edge in beating them. If you follow these tips and keep practicing you will have all the tools you need to get the holeshot and be one step closer to winning the race!

Body Position

Firstly you want to have your body, and therefore your weight in the right position on the bike. When it comes down to it, you want to be sitting between the fuel tank and the middle of the seat. Not too far forward, but not too far back. Also making sure your elbows are up and in a strong position. You then want to lean forward until your head is over the crossbar which will keep you from flipping the bike. Have your legs gripping hard against the frame of the bike and just in front of the foot pegs.

Clutch Control

Holding the clutch in just before engagement is the perfect position as it is right on the edge of the bike taking off. As the gate drops you want to release the clutch smooth and fast. Whatever you do don’t just dump the clutch as it will cause the bike to bog and resulting in a bad start. It is all in the smooth release, but that’s not all you’ll be doing at this point in time.

Throttle Control

As your waiting for the gate to drop and holding in the clutch just before its engagement point, you want to make sure you hold the throttle at a high idle. A low idle and rolling the throttle on too slow will cause you to stall the engine. As the gate drops you want to roll the throttle on at the same time as releasing the clutch. You will know if your throttle and clutch are in sync when the clutch is fully released at the same time as the throttle hits the stopper.

Feet Up!

Once you’re out of the gate your next priority is getting your feet back on the pegs as soon as possible and changing into third gear. If you already ride a motorbike you will know when to change gears. But you also want to get your feet up onto the pegs as soon as you have passed the gate. By doing this the bike gets more traction as your compressing the rear of the bike onto the ground which will give you more drive towards the first corner

Practice, Practice, Practice

You can never practice enough starts. Every time you go riding, try practice a couple and make sure you nail them perfectly. Say to yourself that you have to do three good starts before you can finish, replicating a race day where you will need to do three perfect starts. It might take a while to get in the swing of things, but nothing good ever comes to those who give up!

It is an exhilarating feeling like no other; speeding a dirt bike towards the take- off ramp, knowing full well the risk involved once you have launched off it and then flying high through the air.

There is a suspended moment in time as you get even a foot of air between you and the ground, where initial fear, excitement and achievement all mix with the knowledge that you made this happen – you were responsible.

‘Do More. Learn More. Encounter Success!’ sounds like something more from a corporate business world than recreational dirt biking, and it is.

The team at Encounter Success has taken the best of both worlds to create a very successful and professional enterprise, which empowers corporates to do more through learning and encountering success as a result.

Encounter Success will teach you and your team how to safely ride a dirt bike in one day, as a team building activity or a half day social event. The team has developed a proven step-by-step process which takes complete novices from learning how to kick start a motorbike through to doing jumps on a motocross track.

Under patient and caring guidance, even the most timid and inexperienced riders develop their skills and finish the day with both wheels off the ground. Those who already have some riding experience have also benefited from the professional coaching which the Encounter Success team provide.

From a business perspective, there are so many applications in dirt bike riding relevant to life in the 9 to 5 environment, which means the principals learned through Encounter Success can apply to any workplace.

A lot of regular daily activities have perceived risk which many of us avoid, effectively crippling our potential to succeed. When it comes to riding a dirt bike however, the risks are tangible and you have to take responsibility for the controls. When you have a supportive team and are taught to control the dirt bike correctly, the risk becomes calculated and you can unleash the power to start moving forward.

These skills and experiences can be taken back to the workplace and applied there, for the improvement of both the individual and the organisation. Just like in the workplace, when a team is working supportively together, the potential is unleashed in each individual in your team.

With the support of Suzuki NZ in the provision of modern and reliable DR-Z125 motorcycles, Encounter Success can take a group of ten participants for their team building days. A complete set of safety gear, tutorial and catering is provided, along with team building facilitation from the experienced staff.

After getting the bike’s power under control, changing gears to get more traction and learning how to take the corners effectively, it is getting your body into the strongest riding stance of ‘superposition’ that is needed to release the rider’s optimum potential.

There is a high goal set by Mary and her team and that is to get the participants who embark on the day flying high, yes you read that correctly, flying high. Holding a current world record distance jump herself, Mary knows the risks involved in this goal, but is very confident that with this one day encounter, she and her team can empower and teach participants to safely get both wheels off the ground.

“I can guarantee this will be a day of self-discovery and a great experience for you personally and your team” says Mary. “The day is finished off with prizes and shared memories of each other’s experiences and successes to strengthen the group’s connections.”

Comments from some of the attendees show that Mary and her team are doing exceptional work giving newbies the incredible experience of riding a dirt bike. “I was a bit scared of motorbikes in general, as I had zero previous experience but after today (my first day riding) I was riding fast (for me at least) through all the gears, and even jumping,” explained Jeremy. While Greg pushed the boundaries even further. “The day was amazing. From struggling to start a bike at the beginning of the day, to jumping a bike and flying high by the end. The staff are amazing and incredibly inspirational.”

The social events are more casual, offering a relaxed atmosphere for the group with added options, such as catering and even DJ’ing. These can be for anyone who gets a group together of people who want to have the adventure of riding Suzuki DRZ125 dirt bikes.

It is much like a go-karting session and provides the opportunity for some friendly competition of timed laps with full tutorials for learner riders to get everyone going safely.

These events are suitable for work places wanting a fun activity which allows them to form greater internal connections or for a bunch of mates wanting to celebrate an occasion.

In Business For Good

This purpose-driven initiative – trading under the Youth Encounter umbrella – is run as a ‘social enterprise’ business, which means that in addition to serving the corporate world in general, there is a significant element of empowering young people.

Youth Encounter is the only organisation in NZ using dirt bikes to deliver an exciting and engaging way to develop the potential of at-risk youth. Of course, safety is a paramount consideration for the organisation who’s coaches pride themselves on their professionalism and commitment to achieving the highest industry standards. In fact, the team is accredited with an OutdoorsMark certificate for this.

There are three locations around the North Island which Encounter Success can use, making the experience available to the greatest number of organisations. For further information visit the website for more info or check them out on Facebook:

We know you love your monthly issue of DRD, but there’s always more we can do to make your favourite mag even better!


Burts Farm Trail Ride – Matata

Over the weekend Chris to the Blue Wing Honda CRF450RX Longterm machine out to Burts Farm Trail ride and used the Garmin New Zealand VIRB 360 camera and got some stella footage. Use your mouse or finger to take in the 360 degree view around one of the best places in NZ to ride!

Posted by Dirt Rider Downunder Magazine on Sunday, November 26, 2017

Over the weekend, DRD Editor Chris took the Blue Wing Honda CRF450RX Longterm machine out to the Burt Farm Trail ride in Matata and took the Garmin New Zealand VIRB 360 camera and got some stella footage. Use your mouse or finger to take in the 360 degree view around one of the best places in NZ to ride!

After missing Finland and being 44 points behind Italian Davide Soreca, the UK’s Brad Freeman made the comeback of the season and clinched the EnduroGP title in the very last test of the season. So, what was the Junior World Champs secret for success?

Hello Brad, how do you feel as Junior World Champion? Did you have time to celebrate this title?
Brad Freeman: “It feels amazing! To say I’m Junior World Champion seems so surreal, but we did it! I’m so proud of our achievements this year; we went from an outsider for the title to being the dominant rider in a pretty short amount of time. And yes, we celebrate a lot! What’s the point in winning if you don’t celebrate it? The only problem was I didn’t expect to win the title and so had no plans at all… maybe that’s why it feels so good?!”

What a year it was! How did you feel when you got injured before Finland?
“It’s being an amazing year, a real breakout year for myself! When I got injured at the start of the year I was devastated, it just felt like I had threw it all away before it had really begun. I remember lying in the hospital in Italy basically crying to my Team Manager (Jarno) saying sorry for ruining the year like that. I told myself… ‘that’s it, the championships gone. Why is this happening to me again?’ He and the team were so good with me, they were patient when I needed it and I definitely would not have won this world championship without them! I think we surprised ourselves this year!”

“Jarno literally just took my helmet and said you can do It!”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship – Zschopau, Germany

When did you realize exactly that you still had a shot on the Junior title?
“I was gaining back a lot of points in the championship but I still thought it was too far away. We went to Portugal for the last 3 GPs and I said to myself ‘OK, I need to finish ahead on every day from here to win this title.’ On the first day in Portugal I had maybe my worst ride of the championship; I wasn’t focused at all and came away with a 4th place finish. At the end of the day I was so angry… I thought ‘I’ve worked so hard all year for every point and then I go and throw them away like that!’ I said to those close to me I think the championship has gone, but they said no, a lot can happen in the final five days of racing! From this point on I was so focused on winning the World Championship! I rode hard but smarter than before, won the final five days of racing and with it the Junior World Championship!”

You were comfortably leading on Day 2 in Germany, but then lost a lot of seconds in the last lap. What happened exactly?
“On day 2 in Germany it was the dream scenario! I had taken the lead in the World Championship for the first time in my career, and was 30 seconds up with 1 lap remaining to be crowned World Champion! I was just about ready to back the intensity down a little bit and bring it home safely. I started the final enduro test, and after three corners had a stick go inside my rear break lever jamming it on! I thought no, this cannot be happening! I had two options… either stop and try to fix the problem but lose a lot of time or risk it and see what played out. I risked it, I thought after the bad luck I’ve had this year I wasn’t prepared to give this championship away like that. I rode the whole enduro test with the rear brake on and lost I think 15 seconds. I exited the test and the rear brake disc was glowing orange! I’ve never seen anything like that before. I tried to fix the problem with the tools I had but it was impossible, I needed a new system. I left the test for the extreme test and immediately lost my rear brake all together! Now I was just starting to panic… because I knew I would have to ride the extreme test with no brake. I said to my team boss before the test ‘I’m not sure we can do this’, and he literally just took my helmet and said ‘you can do It!’ I made a good time on the test! Only losing 5 seconds, leaving it to a showdown on the final cross times! It might have looked exciting from the outside, but it was worrying times from inside the helmet!”

“I always kept sort of aiming to progress…”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship, Castelo Branco (POR)

Looking back to last year, did you think you will be able to fight for the World crown the year after?
“Honestly I believed in myself, I always have done… I’m not the most confident rider ever but I’m confident in my own ability. But I knew it was a big step! I remember my first GP in France 2013 was the day Matt PHILLIPS won the Junior Title! I finished 9th in the 125cc, and can remember looking at their celebrations and thinking ‘How can I possibly grow up and go that fast?’ the following year in France was when Matt won the E3 World Title and I won the 125 class… it was actually quite cool to see that I was making progress and so I always kept sort of aiming to progress just like he did! But I definitely didn’t think I could do it within the space of four years. 2016 was a great year for me, but I knew ultimately I need to have these good performances in the World Championship.”

Let’s talk about the Beta Boano team. From the outside, it looks more as a family than a simple Enduro team…
B.F: “It’s just one big family! They’re all a great bunch of people and a big reason why I won the World Championship! I signed with the team in the knowledge that they had a good bike, but mainly what they have done with riders before and how they have helped them to grow up. I went out to Italy training this winter actually living in my van, where I became good friends with my teammate Matteo CAVALLO and actually started living in his home! I can’t thank him and his family enough, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I’ll forever be in debt for what they did for me! Everyone just gets on so well, I’ve got a great relationship with my mechanic and I think that’s what sets us apart from others… we’re a very serious team, but we have a lot of laughs along the way which I think is so important!”

What are your plans for next year?
“My plans for next year have changed maybe five times throughout the course of 2017! I have kind of been waiting to see what was going to happen this year with the championship and where we finished but with winning the title in my first year it blown it wide open! I think I will go senior now as it’s the natural progression, and inside I also feel like I’m ready for it and ultimately that’s the best time to go. I’ll be staying with Beta Boano again and I think that’s going to help me a lot in my first year in senior! But really, I just want to keep progressing as a rider and keep having fun! I’ve had more fun this year than any other, and that shows in my results. I just want to have a good winter behind me and I’ll show up ready for the start of 2018 season!”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship – Zschopau, Germany

The Deets

Name: Brad Freeman
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of Birth: July, 5th 1996
Place of Birth: Rugeley
Bike: Beta 300 RR
Number: 12S

Season by Season Top Results
2011: Fast Eddy Hare & Hound Youth Champion – GBXC Hare & Hound Youth Champion – Youth British Extreme Enduro Champion
2012: 125cc British Sprint Enduro Champion – Fast Eddy Hare & Hound Pro Champion – GBXC Hare & Hound Pro Champion – Youth British Extreme Enduro Champion
2013: 125cc British Sprint Enduro Champion – Expert Overall British Enduro Champion – Expert E1 British Enduro Champion – Expert National Off-Road Champion
2014: Under 20 European Enduro Champion – 5th Overall European Enduro Championship – 125cc British Enduro Champion – 4th Overall British Enduro Championship – Vice Under19 British Sprint Enduro Champion
2016: Overall European Enduro Champion – 4th Overall British Enduro Championship – 2nd Overall British E2 Championship
2017: Junior World Champion