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Moto Tips | Riding Calm When Under Pressure


INSTAGRAM | @firepowerparts

How do you react when someone circles the track behind you? Does it trigger your fight or flight reflex, an instinct to pull away as quickly as possible, or can you click off laps without any concern? The way a rider responds can make or break their moto, the difference between race wins, podium finishes, or top-tens. Competing more is one way to build up a tolerance, but you still have to stay calm under pressure. Few people have more gate drops on their record than Martin Davalos, former pro turned team manager for Fire Power Honda, so we asked him to share a few words of advice for prospective racers. 

You have to trust the work that you’ve done, everything that you’ve put in, and your riding. You need to focus on hitting your marks and doing what you can, but if the person behind you is faster and they pass you, it is what it is. You have to accept that so that you can fall in behind and learn from their lines.

I’d much rather ride in front of someone than behind; you can’t see the lines and everything that goes with it. At certain points of my pro career, I’d really try to hold someone off when they were behind me, tut I know how to be calmer and to hit my lines now.

You don’t really know what the person behind you is doing; they could be riding sketchy and out of their comfort zone trying to get you. If you stay smooth, they’ll make a mistake and fall back.

There are times, maybe when there had been a big gap between me and the riders in front and behind, I’d look around to see where the other riders were to know if I was catching them or if they were catching me. Then you have to think about if it’s worth pushing that little bit extra or if you need to just settle for where you are. If you’re out front, especially by a few seconds, you can look around to see where the others are, but you really don’t want to get too caught up in it and start pushing too hard or overthinking. Stay focused on your race.

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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