Crankt Protein Honda Racing's Luke Clout on racing in the rain.
Racing in the mud is something that most riders dread, it brings a whole new set of challenges to the day and greatly increases your chances of something going wrong. When it comes to mud races there’s a certain way each rider will approach the day and some tend to be more comfortable in the conditions than others. Why is that? It can come down to multiple reasons such as the rider’s experience in the mud, their technique on the bike or even their equipment preparation. For this latest edition of Advice we checked in with Crankt Protein Honda Racing’s Luke Clout to hear his take on the mud following an impressive Motul MX Nationals showing in sloppy Horsham condtions earlier this season in the MX1 category.
1. Practicing in the rain:
Yeah obviously nobody does like riding in the mud, but I think it’s something you need to deal with, go out and do it and get used to it. Any national or race could be a mud race, you don’t have to go out and be doing motos, but you have to go out and at least do some laps. You need to pick up little techniques and learn what the bike does, get used to riding in that mud and learning a technique for yourself to be able to get better in the mud. So I think that just going out and riding a bit in the mud, it’s a benefit to be able to learn what works for you. When it comes to a race day and you haven’t ridden in the mud or you don’t really know what works for you with technique, then you’re going to struggle all day.
2. Track position:
I think the most important thing, especially in a mud race, is the start. First off, you need to have a look at the gates and make sure you’ve got a dry gate with a nice line to be sure you’ll get out and put yourself into a good position. If you’re buried mid-pack, that just makes your race double as hard compared to getting a good start. I always try to pick the best gate I can and even in a mud race try to stay away from some people to give yourself some more room, so you can work with a few things here and there and just try to put yourself in a better position than everyone else who tries to box up in the middle for a dry gate or something like that.
3. Maximising vision:
Luckily for me I wear the new SCOTT Prospect goggle and the roll-off system has worked unreal for me throughout the whole series and I haven’t had an issue with my goggles at all – I’m very lucky to be working with SCOTT. But I think if you can get a good start, which we touched on before, that is definitely one thing that you need to try to do to limit losing the goggles. You have to try and ride with your goggles for as long as possible, even if the vision is very poor, you need to try and keep your goggles on even if you have to use your gloves to wipe some mud off. I think taking your goggles off is almost last resort, I’ll never take my goggles off until it’s pretty much impossible to see. Maybe going into the pit area and putting a new set of goggles on or if you do have to throw your goggles, you need to try and be smart to stay away from the roost. But like I said, I try to keep my goggles on as long as possible and try not to throw them off.
4. Minimising mistakes:
I think if you can limit your mistakes and hit all of your marks, you don’t actually need to be going 100 percent and over your head to make passes or anything like that. You just need to go out there, be smooth, be smart and just make sure you do your whole moto 100 percent perfect. You could be two or three seconds slower than the fastest guy, but at the end of the race you’re going to be there if you’ve stayed up the whole time and had a good race. If you have one little crash, that ruins your whole race, your gloves are dirty, your grips are dirty and that starts kind of a domino effect for your race. You’re going to have more crashes and you’ll get angry of yourself and then ride over your head and continuously make mistakes. I think if you can just limit the mistakes and be very patient in the mud, have good technique, look ahead and hit your marks, you’re going to have a really good race at the end of it.
5. Getting in the groove:
If you can get off to a good start like we spoke about, put yourself in a good position at the start, you just need to click off your laps. A normal race is a lap-by-lap kind of thing, but in a mud race you want to take it almost turn-by-turn to make sure you’re hitting your marks every single lap, you’re in the same line, the same rut and you know the conditions well. You’ll know if that rut works, or if that bump works, you know that line that you have been taking is consistent and you just need to be really patient. You don’t go out there and try to go a million miles an hour, it’s all about standing on your pegs, getting your technique right, cruising around and it’s pretty much about who can stay up and who can be the most consistent. That’s why mud races are so unique, you have some people that go out there and set the world on fire at the start, but by the end of it they’re back in 10th-place because they’ve crashes a handful of times. Then on the other hand you get the person who’s consistent and smooth – he’ll be there at the end.