Every racer, would-be racer and track-day attendee should read and assimilate this book. It is among the best books on racing technique every published, and will provide excellent advice, as well, to road riders who want to improve their daily riding. It will also help the reader understand what he or she is seeing at the races.
The devil, Andy Ibbott proves beyond doubt, is in the details. Rising above being `quick' to being a winner is a long, painstaking (often painful) process, and this book proves it. Racing success comes from meticulous attention to the inner workings of riding well, along with total physical, emotional and financial commitment. It takes years. There are no `instant winners.'
Illustrated with scores of clear diagrams and magnificent photos from Gold and Goose, this is one of the best primers for aspiring racers and those already competing in a difficult and dangerous sport. The photos alone, culled from thousands taken by Gold and Goose of the great racers of the last (approximately) decade show, in detail, what the bike and rider are doing and illustrate the text powerfully--a picture really is worth a thousand words.
In 14 lavishly illustrated chapters, Ibbott covers preparation (emphasizing fitness), how to handle the bike--acceleration, braking, cornering and steering, sliding, racing lines, qualifying, starting, passing other riders, racing psychology, crashing--managing the ambient climate (hot, cold, wet), conserving personal and machine energy and getting on top of the box. Keith Code's appendix on suspension is excellent. Ibbott quotes many of today's champions with explanations of what they do, how they do it and why it works. He puts us right in front of the greats, who answer many of the critical questions we would ask if we had the chance to sit down with them.
There is one area of significant omission from the book, and it's a biggie. It will, beyond every imaginable personal effort, seriously affect a racer's success or failure. It is beyond the cognitive control of the individual rider and will have a lot to do with his or her potential as a racer.
The first is genetic: the physiology of the individual, his or her vision, morphology, reaction times, propriocetive skills and associated characteristics.
The second, closely aligned with the first, is used by military aviation authorities worldwide to screen potential pilots from those unsuited to the task: reflexes, hand-eye coordination, etc., manifest in a racer, for example, in his or her degree of `feel' for what the machine is doing, its deviation from track (e.g. sliding). Anyone interested in taking up racing should be tested for these physiological aspects. It is difficult or impossible for anyone who is not naturally (i.e. genetically) gifted to overcome basic physiological deficits.
The third is psychological: only the tough-minded and strong-willed can win. Adolf Galland, a great WWII fighter pilot, said: "Only the spirit of attack, born in a brave heart, will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be." It's the same with race bikes.