New Thai riding academy has GP racers leading the way
Riding school with world-class motorcycle racing coaches opens in Thailand
How likely is it to have a world class motorcycle racer as your riding coach, especially in this part of the world?
Last Monday, three former racers from the World Motorcycle Grand Prix era and MotoGP showed that it is possible.
Jeremy McWilliams, Loris Capirossi and Fausto Ricci became personal instructors to students at a new riding school in Thailand called Burn Rubber Riding Academy & Track Days.
General manager and chief coach of the academy Gianluca Lozzi told The New Paper it was the right time to open a riding school in Thailand as there has been "no proper academy and track days organiser" there.
Mr Lozzi, who is based in Singapore, said: "Thailand is becoming the next motorsport hub. They started with WorldSBK and this year with MotoGP...
"Having many tracks (here) like Chang, Bira and Thailand Circuit seem to make it the right place to start an academy and track days company."
Over two days at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, students were given both classroom lessons and trackside instructions.
The coaches - a mix of Thai and foreign riders with respected racing credentials on the global stage - adhere to an internationally-acclaimed curriculum.
The classes are structured and broken into a few levels - from those wanting to be safer and faster riders to those aspiring to be the next big name in motorcycle racing.
The on-track coach-to-student ratio is kept small so that more attention can be devoted to improving students' riding techniques.
The lessons are conducted step by step and students are told to ride within their limits.
In addition, Mr Lozzi said, the academy hopes to create a "community hub" for like-minded Thai and international riders.
Students have the chance of receiving personalised coaching by the legends as well as to ride pillion at full-speed with a world class racer in the Duo Experience.
Being on a motorcycle with British racer McWilliams at the controls must have brought nervous smiles to those who rode pillion.
McWilliams, who is also a KTM brand ambassador, is known for lifting his motorcycle's front wheel during corner exits.
Aside from the showmanship, the overall aim is to improve riding skills and nurture future talent, some of whom can be found in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and Asia Talent Cup.
Former MotoGP rider Capirossi, who used to excite fans with his two-stroke, 250cc racing exploits, told TNP: "Talented riders are always fast despite improvements to the bikes. But technology is a big step in terms of safety. In the past, riders were crashing more because of engine failures and less electronics."
While the lessons will be conducted at various circuits in Thailand, the academy is open to riders from elsewhere in the region also.
For those who join, unlearning some of the riding habits developed over the years will take time. Grand Prix racer Ricci, who was two-time Italian champion and European champion, watches over his students with a keen eye.
Ricci, who has tutored MotoGP winners like the late Marco Simoncelli and Manuel Poggiali, told TNP: "The main objective is to correct their seating position, to remove the bad habits and to make them safer and faster."
For more information on course dates, contact Burn Rubber Riding Academy & Track Days on its Facebook page.