The 2023 season witnessed fresh champions in both Europe's MXGP and America's AMA Pro Motocross series. Both Jorge Prado and Jett Lawrence clinched their first 450 titles, a feat made easier by their dominance right from the start gate. Several crucial factors come into play at the start of a race. The rider and the motorcycle play enormous roles. However, just like everyone else, Prado and Lawrence must look to the same starting gate, release the clutch at the right moment, and throttle up.
The bike, of course, must deliver maximum torque. From the rider's perspective, reaction time must be at the top of their game. It's a known fact: the lighter the rider, the faster the motorcycle accelerates. Ultimately, the synergy between the rider and the bike is vital to harness the power most effectively, and this synergy begins well before the race even starts.
The Impact on Prado’s and Lawrence’s Winning Streak
It’s always good for the sport to see new riders winning. However, this year, we’ve observed a shift in motocross that could blueprint the sport's future. To highlight some stats: Prado has taken the holeshot 14 times out of 38 in the 2023 MXGP campaign, with Lawrence being unbeaten throughout the series, thanks to his impressive consistency from start to finish. Starting up front, as proven again this year, is key to winning races.
Beyond Torque and Reaction Time
While bikes and technology have undeniably transformed motocross starts, the rider’s role remains paramount. With Prado and Lawrence, we see a mix of unparalleled mental strength, a honed technique, and impeccable body positioning. The unpredictability, the nerves, the drive, and the technique all culminate at the start line. The introduction of the start mesh has brought about significant improvements in motorcycle performance. This technology, by providing consistency at the starting line, ensures replicable race conditions during both races and training sessions, leading to enhanced electronic functionalities on dirt bikes.
However, notwithstanding the technology, the role of the rider remains central. A closer look at the techniques employed by Prado and Lawrence reveals a blend of mental resilience and exact body positioning, refined through hundreds of hours of training and testing. These elements become most evident at the beginning of each race.