Racer’s Kit

Racer’s Kit – Andrea Dovizioso

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Andrea Dovizioso, 31, is a racer who competes in the premier class for the Factory Ducati team.

Andrea won the 125cc Aprilia Challenge in Italy in 2000 before scooping up the 125cc World Championship with the Kopron Scot Honda team in 2004.

He moved up to the 250cc class in 2005, picking up five podium finishes and third place overall in his debut season. He finished second behind series winner Jorge Lorenzo a year later, and finished second again in 2007.

In 2008 he moved up to the elite class with JiR Team Scot, finishing a credible fourth place in the season opener in Qatar. He finished fifth overall and the following season became an official Repsol Honda rider, replacing former world champion Nicky Hayden. He won his first premier class race at Donington Park and finished sixth overall in the standings.

Andrea went one better in his second season as a Factory Honda rider, finishing fifth overall in 2010.

Despite taking four second places the following season in the three-man Repsol team, and finishing third in the championship behind Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea rejected the offer of a Honda satellite bike and moved to the Tech 3 Yamaha squad, partnering Britain’s Cal Crutchlow.

Dovizioso was quick straight from the off on the Yamaha, gaining top-five finished in his first three starts, and he finished the season in fourth overall to cap an impressive year.

His riding caught the attention of Ducati, who signed Andrea as a replacement for the departing Valentino Rossi in 2013. Despite struggling to adapt to the career-destroying Desmosedici, he scored a fourth in the wet at Le Mans and finished the season in eighth.

His fortunes improved significantly following the arrival of Gigi Dall’Igna, and this year has seen his stock rise even more – outclassing Jorge Lorenzo and enjoying two wins already.

He’s had his fair share big offs – especially on the notoriously difficult to turn Ducati – and knows what kit works and what doesn’t. Here he shares his kit wisdom.

HELMET: “Everything is important when it comes to your helmet – protection, comfort, vision, quietness, ventilation.

“My advice is to try as many on as you can and buy the best you can afford. You can’t afford to settle for less.

“In terms of order of importance, protection is most important for me, then comfort and finally vision. You want your helmet to give you peace of mind. I need to know it’s going to protect me when, not if, I come off. And it needs to be comfortable. When you’re on the bike you don’t want the interior to be uncomfortable, or to be pinching your head, you want not to notice it so you can focus solely on your riding.

“Ventilation is important too. You can soon overheat in hot races, or mist up in west weather, so having a helmet with effective vents is crucial.

“And you want a helmet to be quiet, the quieter the better. Anything that distracts you from takes your focus away from what’s ahead isn’t good.

“The only thing I change about my helmet is the fit. I wear Suomy and we have adapted it slightly so that the visor aperture sits higher up on my head. That way I can see more when I’m in a full racing crouch. Apart from that it’s completely standard.”

LEATHERS: “I like my leathers to be tight. It’s no good having them loose or they’ll offer little or no protection when you crash. But you can’t have them so tight as to restrict movement, so look for leathers with a good range of stretch panels.

“And don’t be put off by weight. Yes, lightness is important, but you don’t want the material to be that thin that the asphalt burns through it as you slide along the tarmac at 180mph.

“I’m not so fussed about external armour, as I don’t think it makes that much difference. So long as you have armour in the crucial areas, then that’s fine. The principle’s the same as when you go MotoCross riding – you want to be protected, but you don’t want it so restrictive that you can’t move.

“My suit has an airbag, but I can’t say I even notice the difference. It doesn’t make the sit feel any heavier or restrict my movement on the bike.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS: “I wear both and I can’t recommend them enough, especially the back protector. When was the last time you heard of a rider getting paralysed?

“There’s really not any excuse not to wear either anymore. They’re light, comfortable and after a couple of times wearing them you forget you’ve got them on. There’s a huge choice out there, and most are adjustable.”

GLOVES: “Gloves need to have protection in the right places, especially the wrist. If you come off the bike at speed your hands are going to come into contact with the tarmac. It’s very easy for your hands to dig in and break either your wrist or fingers, so the more heavy-duty protection and sliders gloves have, the better.

“The difficulty is finding the right balance between protection and feel. Your hands control the throttle and brakes, so you need movement, but some gloves are that thin and light that when hit the ground or roll through the gravel they almost fall to pieces. That’s not good, so always go for gloves that are that bit thicker.”

BOOTS: “Boots need to be comfortable, flexible and protective. The ankle is a very complex joint, and is easily damaged, so look for boots with lots of external protection in the ankle area.

“I wear Supertech boots and they’re brilliant. The use a really snug tightening mechanism that keeps the boot snug and secure. They’ve got loads of chunky plastic armour but they’re thin enough on the top of the foot to make changing gear easy.”

BASELAYERS: “I can’t imagine riding without these. They’re excellent at keeping your core temperature constant, and work just as well whether the temperature is 5C or 35C. And they make it so much easier to get into and out of your leathers.”

EARPLUGS: “I always wear earplugs. It is impossible to ride a GP bike without them – the engine is just too loud.

“In the 2008 GP at Donington Park I didn’t have time to put my earplugs in as I rolled out the pits for the outlap before the race. It was horrific. It actually hurt my ears. The bike was that loud. You definitely couldn’t complete a full race without wearing them. I’ve never made that mistake again.”

Proven on track – BSB frontrunner Dan Linfoot talks about the kit the trusts

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_U9G1589 2014 BSB, BSB R02, Oulton Park, UK.

Daniel Linfoot, 26, is a racer who competes in the British Superbike Championship with Honda Racing UK.

Dan has been racing since 2002, when he began his racing career in the National Minibike Championsips, later moving up to the 125cc category in 2004. In 2005 Dan finished fourth in the standings. He then went on to ride in the World 250cc MotoGP championship in 2007 and the European Superstock in 2008.  minibikes, before joining BSB in 2009.

When he’s not racing, Dan can been seen coaching at the British Superbike School at Blyton Park in Gainsborough on his ZX10-R and also rides on the roads, having passed his test last year.

He’s had his share of big offs – he broke his pelvis on the last lap of the first BSB race of 2013 after falling off and being run over by James Westmoreland –  and knows what kit works and what doesn’t. Here he shares his hard-earned kit wisdom.

HELMET – “When you try a helmet on you need to make sure the fit is right – it doesn’t want to pinch your forehead, but it doesn’t want to be moving around on your head either. It wants to be snug but comfortable. And it needs to be comfortable and light – you don’t want a heavy helmet sapping your concentration and energy. It also needs to be protective, obviously, and offer excellent vision and ventilation. You need to be able to see as much as possible, and you don’t want to feel too hot or suffer with visor misting.”

“When I started racing I wore an Arai and it fitted me perfectly, but then they introduced the RX7-GP and changed the shape – the fit wasn’t as good and I just couldn’t get on with it. So I tried on various lids – AGV, Shark and Shoei – and was blown away by the Shoei. It and the best combination of fit, vision, ventilation and comfort. And I couldn’t get over how light it was. So I bought one and I’ve stuck with them. This season is the first one I’ve been given free race helmets by Shoei, so that’s not the reason I wear them. I wear them because they fit my head, the field of vision is excellent, they’re pretty quiet and the lining is comfortable. But the most important reason I wear them is because I know that they work – I’ve and a couple of massive smashes in them and I’ve walked away without as much as a headache.”

LEATHERS – “The first thing I look for in leathers is the material. I want them to be tough. If I go sliding down the road I want to know that they’ll be strong, so I wear kangaroo skin leathers. Kangaroo offers the best of both worlds – it’s incredibly strong but also really supple.

“Fit and comfort are also crucial. When you’re on the bike you want everything to sit where it should – you don’t want any tightness on the arms causing arm pump, and you don’t want them so loose that they start flapping at speed – that just saps energy, concentration and takes your focus away from the track. That’s why I prefer my leathers to be perforated. I move around there bike a lot when I’m racing and I don’t want to get too hot, so a good flow of air is a must.

“They also need to be protective. I’m a big fan of chunky external armour on the shoulder, elbows and knees. I’ve got some scuffs on the metal sliders on my elbows, though I’m only elbow down when I’m testing in Spain.

“I’m currently racing in a set of made-to-measure Prexport leathers that are badged as Weise, and they crash well. I’ve had two crashes in a set and they’re still good to wear. Obviously, some of the sponsors’ badges are a bit a sorry looking, but the suit itself is fine for racing in the wet.

“I’ve since switched to Dainese and they’re just as good.”

BOOTS – “I want my boots to be comfortable. Your feet take a lot of punishment on the bike, so I prefer boots that are comfortable. They also need to be protective. I wear Sidi Vortice boots – they offer the right blend of fit, protection and comfort. They’re light, quite well ventilated and reassuringly protective – yes, the closing system is fiddly and takes a bit of time, but you know that they’re not going anywhere once they’re on. And they’re tough. I know that if I crash they’re still going to be good – I’ll only get through three sets a year.

“And they’re really, really comfortable. You don’t really notice you’re wearing them.

“The only downside is the squeak that develops around the ankle joint. They all do it, though a bit of WD40 soon sorts that out.”

GLOVES – “Obviously your hands have a massive role to play on the bike, controlling both the throttle and brake, so gloves need to be supple and offer lots of feel.

“I wear Weise gloves and they’re pretty impressive – they feature sturdy Knox armour in all the key areas and a lot of stretch panels for added comfort.  I give them to my dad to wear and break them in for me so that they’re just so for when I race. I’m quite fussy when it comes to wearing gloves, and am reluctant to throw old gloves away. I’ll probably get through three a season.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS – “I wear a standard off the peg Dainese wave back protector that you can buy in the shops. I bought it five year ago and it’s so thin you don’t notice you’re wearing it. I always wear one, both on the track and on the road on my ZX-10R. A lot of back protectors these days are so thick – they trend seems to be to make them thicker and thicker – that they feel awkward and obtrusive in race leathers but try them on under your kit and see what’s right for you. They work, and I’d urge everyone to wear one.

“I haven’t tried a chest protector yet, but I’m going to be experimenting with one this season.”

BASELAYERS – “I’d urge everyone to try a compression top – they’re brilliant. It felt really strange when I first wore one, but now they’re one of my most important pieces of kit. I can’t ride without one. They keep you comfortable under your leathers, keep you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, and they make it easier and quicker to get into and out of your leathers.

“ I normally wear a short sleeved Proskins top and I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

EARPLUGS – “A lot of racers don’t wear earplugs because they want to hear the noise the engine’s making, but I’m not one of them. I prefer shutting the noise out as best I can so I can focus on what’s going on ahead of me.

“I’ve tried personalised earplugs but just couldn’t get on with them. I had two sets made up, by two different manufactures, but the results were the same. I couldn’t put them on without looking in the mirror, they’re just too fiddly, and when they were in, the side of the helmet would press against them, forcing them deeper into my ear as the race went on. They were actually quite painful so I went back to wearing disposables.

“ I wear Max Lite and a set will last me day.”

STOMP GRIPS – “I can’t rate these highly enough and I’d urge everyone to fit a set too their bike. They’re great for gripping on corner entry as they let you support the weight of your upper body by allowing you to lock your knee on to the tank. I hate sliding about in the seat, and these pads help me a lot when braking.”