Former Grand Prix rider, Garry McCoy is nurturing the next generation of Australian racing talent.
It’s halfway through your second year now coaching the Oceania Junior Cup riders. What are your thoughts on the OJC concept now you’ve seen more of it?
The concept of OJC is brilliant. It’s difficult these days, catering to different age groups, but with the support of Yamaha, Ficeda and Motorcycling Australia (MA), it all comes together. The R15 is a good thing, very robust… I don’t think I’ve seen one that’s unrepairable.
When I started at the beginning of last year, I walked in and I knew it was going to be a challenge. I’ve worked with groups of kids before, but not 20 of them! Just rounding them up is challenging. It’s taken some time but it does give
me pleasure seeing it all working now.
Last year was a bit of a shock; there was a lot to work on and I made a lot of notes, came up with a lot of ideas that I put to MA. Some of our fast ones from last year, as well as the new selections for this year, they are all up front which is great to see.
From the beginning of last year to now, I really feel like we’ve turned the tables. They’re listening, but now I’ve got to work out how to really let the information sink in.
Does it get a bit too serious at times?
It does, but I’m seeing things from a different perspective now as well. MA is getting me involved upstairs in race control, and it’s much better being able to see all the replays from different angles. When the kids are on track, there isn’t much I can do from pitlane.
I have been worried a few times. At QR last year there was a bit of argy bargy, moments on the front straight. We had to have a good talk about weaving and the dangers associated with that. I think it’s worked well, as we’re not seeing that anymore. But you also have to identify the difference between weaving and breaking out of a slipstream for a legitimate pass.
What sort of things do you work on for race preparation?
One thing we get into is warm up and stretching exercises in the morning. It’s so important, as you don’t want to go out on track without stretching – just to have your body ready for quick movements.
At the Morgan Park round Troy Herfoss came and joined in. He knows the importance of moving the body and getting the blood flowing, and it all helps get the message across to the kids. It was amazing having that one person that they all know: they formed a big circle in the paddock and were paying attention. I try to cover a lot of the different disciplines, but focus on one element for a weekend.
In recent years there has been a focus shift from having a dirt background to mini road racebikes – Ohvales, Kayo, etc. Do you think that opens a skills gap?
Definitely. I’d love to put together an off-road training component to the OJC. I did off-road training with kids for a long time prior to OJC, but it was three or four at a time. I think we need to see more kids learning off-road skills that they can bring over to road racing.
Half of the kids in OJC at the moment haven’t really ridden a dirtbike. It could be held anywhere, but I’d like to do it at my place where there are proper facilities and tracks that are specifically designed to improve road-racing skills. It’s like flat track, but when I say that, I mean a road racetrack – on dirt. I’d love to get this going, but I’d need some support from a manufacturer. If I had 10 bikes, I could talk to 10 kids while the other 10 ride. A lot of the front-running guys at the moment – the Paiges, Jed Fyffe, Archie Schmidt, the Dranes – all have a strong dirt background.
What about when you were competing, is that how you would train?
Yeah. Back in 2004 I would run a motard setup front and rear; I think they were cut slicks and greasy as. The other thing I would do is run really big brakes. That meant you couldn’t just rip on the brakes; you really had to feel them and that was a good challenge. It gave me really good feel for the bike.
A lot of people would say it’s too hard to set up or it’s not grippy enough – but you’re there to get a feel for the bike and how to make it go faster – not to set a quick lap time. What I’ve got set up at my place is kind of like Rossi’s Ranch. It was easier to build a track at home because you can make exactly what you want – you’re not going to see that at a club because it’s just another track for them to maintain.
Do the kids have a sense of what you’ve achieved in your career? Or are you just another guy at the track?
It was a bit like that in the beginning! Towards the end of last year the new MotoGP game came out on Xbox or PlayStation. Sam Drane came up to me and told me he was racing against me in the game!
Words Matt O’Connell + Photography Rob Mott