I've been meaning to do this for a while. I figure some of you might be interested to hear what the trackday community/process is like overseas. How it is different, how it is similar, etc.
Ive logged somewhere near 30 days of track time in the past year. Ive ridden all over the Iberian peninsula including: Estoril, Portimao, Jerez, some lesser known "test tracks" Monte Blanco, and Almeria, and finally my most recent experience, Aragon. I have ridden with many different companies; Spanish, Portugese, British, and German.
I would have to say though, that the most organized, safe, and efficient trackdays are hosted by the Brits. For Aragon we rode with a British trackday company called Focused Events. This was not my first time riding with these guys, and will not be the last. This company specializes in European Trackday "Holidays". Basically they are selling a nearly all inclusive package. 600 LBS got me three days of track time, 3 nights accomodation in a 4 star hotel, free breakfast, and if I had been living in the UK, also includes transport of your bike, gear, and spare tires to the destination. Basically for the Brits, all they have to do is fly in, and everything is waiting for them.
This company also offers guest instruction from various professional riders. Two of the biggest being Wayne Gardner and Neil Hodgson.
I cannot truthfully compare to US track days, because I have yet to do a track day in the states....
But I imagine its somewhat similar.
-Show up at the track ~0800
-Have your coffee, get bike set up, warmers on, tire pressures, all that.
*That is something that is different....Every trackday I have been to over here, you get to utilize the pit boxes, electricity, and facilities in general for nothing. In Estoril they even had 24/7 security and were allowing people to show up the night previous, set up everything in their pit box, and then lay out air mattresses and sleep right there at the track in the pit box.
* Get your riders wrist band, sticker with group assignment, chrono and bracket. Every rider uses a chrono. No one is ever told their times however. There is no exceptions to that. If at the end of the event you want your times for all three days you can pay $5 dollars to get them. Reason being...they use the chronos as a safety measure. Rider groups are shuffled throughout the day, based on times that you are running. This takes out people sandbagging in the beginner group, and people whose egos are bigger than their talent. Everyone ends up in their appropriate group, which means you are with people doing closer to your times, which increases safety as well as enjoyment since you will have more open track and spend less time passing people.
-Riders meeting ~0930. The Brits take riding safety and trackday etiquette very seriously. Rules across the board were no passing in turns, no lunge passing, either pass on the brakes safely, or exiting. Violations were not tolerated. General stupidity was also not tolerated. I saw a guy get his stickers pulled for pulling a wheelie down the straight on the first session. They show a powerpoint of the circuit, go over points of interest, marshall/flag locations, run off areas, slip roads, etc. They also give you a generous starting point for your brake markers. At the end of the meeting you are given a safety brief sticker only valid for that day. No sticker, and you arent riding.
-Gear up and grid up for sighting laps. For the first session of each day, in each group there is a mandatory 3 laps following a pace car. This forces people to warm their tires, and get in the right mindset. I have seen way too many people crash in the first 5 minutes of the day at several track days, and this practice seems to squash that.
-Enter pit lane, and wait to be waived onto track to start your day.
After that, its go have fun.
However, for my first day in Aragon, I opted to pay for instruction from Neil Hodgson. Basically I got my vest and went out with him every session. We had a pre-brief and post-brief. He would tell me what he wanted me to do, show me for a lap or two and then wave me up and follow me. Then he would tell me what he saw and how to improve next time. Aside from the wow factor of working with a WSBK champion (super nice dude) that yellow vest entitled me to an open pit lane, meaning I could come and go with any session I wanted throughout the day.
My main obvious issue as pointed out by Neil was slowing way too much for corners and not carrying any speed through. We basically just did drills to teach me to trust the front end more, and to start bombing the corners. Fast lap on first day was 2:45. By the end of the weekend I was below 2:20s. No, they arent moto2 times or anything, but for being a mere mortal, I was pretty proud of *only* being about 25 seconds slower than the Moto2 boys.
Anyways, enough of the words, and on to some pictures.