Tuesday Tip: From the Gate to the First Turn With Ernesto Fonseca

This week we ran through some of the things Ernesto Fonseca works on when getting off the line.

Gate Selection & Prep

Ernie doesn’t like to be too far inside, because it’s difficult to outbrake anyone, or too far outside because riders to the inside can force you to drift wide.

On dirt gates, the Fonz packs his spot on the gate. Ruts are no problem. “I’m kind of short so I like the groove. That way it’s easier to put one or both feet down.”


Concrete gates get the usual treatment. Plenty of sweeping, and cleaning around the pins to make sure the gate drops smoothly.

On The Line

“On a 250, I start with two feet down. It gives me more control, I don’t lose balance as easily, and you go straighter. I keep my feet in front of the pegs, and on the 250 I try to keep them down, because I feel like they help me keep the bike down. You can hold second gear for a long time, and I think that helps keep you straight. Having your foot down keeps you nice and straight and you don’t lose your balance as much. Most of the second gears are pretty long, so you don’t have to worry about shifting as fast.

“On a 125 I bring my feet up as fast as I can, so I can shift really fast. There’s power, but I think you can control it a lot easier than on a 250. You don’t have to worry about wheelying as much.”


“I adjust the play on my clutch just enough to where I can control whether the bike is going to wheelie or not. I keep two fingers (middle and ring) on the clutch lever, and use it to help control the bike if the front end starts to come up.


“I start in second gear, and look right at my gate. I think that definitely helps keep me going in a straight line. I can’t look at the pin that holds the gate, or someone else’s gate. I feel like it throws me off balance.

“Once the card goes sideways, hold the throttle steady at about half-open, and watch the gate. When the gate drops, you open the throttle the rest of the way.

“Once the gate drops, focus on where you want to go through the first turn, make sure you shift clean. I use my toe for shifts. I feel like I miss it a lot if I try to do it with my heel.

“From there, concentrate on your turning and braking points, and enjoy your holeshot.”