This year I have probably spent more hours walking around what is to be the venue for this years’ Mini Nationals than I have spent anywhere. I have seen the soil at its driest, its wettest, and many stages in between. The jumps, berms and sawdust are ingrained into my brain, so if your child will be racing the event then perhaps you would like to know my thoughts on what your child can expect.
More than anything else, it is the layout of this circuit that makes it suit mini racing. There are faster and slower sections, but in general the speeds are not too fast because of the compact layout without being too slow thanks to an abundance of berms in the slower sections. Nice ruts often form on the inside lines, only interrupted by half buried rocks. The soil reminds me of river silt, not soft like sand but still offering some traction in the wet. Be warned though, it will act like grinding paste should the rain come down so spare brake pads, chains and sprockets are highly recommended.
If you are skilled enough to hook inside lines, they are usually fastest. However the berms are also a fast option, especially if you rail the lip or stay low on the berm to shave off valuable distance travelled. Pushing hard on the outside footpeg is a must if you want to ride fast without having the rear wheel step sideways out of turns. Moving your feet back on the pegs helps this, especially when you are standing up.
The sawdust is spot on, which the bigger 50’s and upwards will be using. It consists of two straights and a turn, forming mini sized whoops that reward a rider who can stand low to the bike and lift the front through the larger holes.
Without a doubt the feature jump is the tabletop nearest the pits area. It has a good run up, progressive upramp and long landing that has no dangerous spot for casing. Another straight has what could almost be considered a small double, but even the landing on that is so rounded that it should not cause trouble.
Many options were discussed for what is the starting corner, with the end result being the best that they could do. Unfortunately it is a right hander, but only the weekend itself will tell whether that causes any problems. The start straight itself is a very gentle up-slope and long enough that the riders should be fairly spread out by the time they reach it. Practicing good balance off the gates to keep riders in a straight line will help a lot.
Personally, I am a little jealous of the young ones who get to race there. The track suits those mini bikes perfectly and I don’t doubt that most riders will really enjoy it. Hopefully the weather is kind and the parents do well at controlling their emotions. I am less jealous of the parents as they are forced to watch, but it should be a great weekend for all.