As a motorcycle racing journalist, I think Americans sometimes forget about P.J. Jacobsen (Facebook & Twitter). That’s a shame, because the 22-year-old finished second in last year’s World Supersport Championship, and again is a top contender for the title in this year’s WSS Championship.
Despite successfully making the jump from the US national racing scene to the race tracks of Europe, it seems Americans have a hard time remembering that they have a fellow countryman rising up the ranks of motorcycle racing’s elite.
Americans are obsessed about asking who will be the next great American champion, and when they do so, they talk about riders still in the AMA/MotoAmerica paddock, or talk nostalgically of GP riders of old, like Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, or Nicky Hayden.
While there is certainly cause for excitement about Nicky Hayden’s entry into the World Superbike paddock, the reality is that P.J. Jacobsen has quietly been climbing the ranks of motorcycle racing at the international level without anyone noticing. He might be America’s next World Champion, yet only diehard race fans know his name.
In the hopes of changing this situation, we plan to bring you a few stories about P.J. over the course this season. Our first opportunity so far was to sit down with him at the Aragon World Supersport round this past weekend.
Good clean racing or overstepping the mark? That was the question being asked on the Sunday night in Thailand, after a thrilling race long duel between Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
For many the sight of Sykes fighting tooth and nail and refusing to cede the win to his teammate was something that was hoped for, but not expected this year.
The Kawasaki teammates fought a war of words over the winter, but after Rea’s dominant title victory last year, many expected something similar this year.
While Rea has walked away with 95 points from the first four races, the message from Sykes in Thailand was clear: You’re not going to have it all your own way this time around!
Not since Max Biaggi hung up his Grand Prix leathers and headed to World Superbikes has a rookie generated as much excitement as Nicky Hayden.
The American is adamant that he can compete at the front in World Superbike this year, and already you can see the fire and determination in him to succeed.
For much of the last five years, Hayden was saddled with uncompetitive bikes in MotoGP, but already his demeanor in the Ten Kate garage is that of a man keen to get back to winning races.
The fire that led him to Europe 13 years ago is still burning, and now he feels that he has the package available to show his speed once again.
Setting the fastest time on the opening day of the season put smiles on the faces of everyone in the Pata Yamaha garage, but the rest of the weekend wasn’t quite as smooth.
While Sylvain Guintoli converted his opening day speed into strong race finishes, the challenge facing the team is clear: getting the most from the YZF-R1.
As with any racing Yamaha, the key to generating speed and performance from the R1 is corner speed. Watch the bike on track and it’s very similar to what you can expect when you look at Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP.
Yamaha riders need to carry corner speed and momentum at all times and be as smooth as possible.
The second round of the Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend in Thailand, and while Jonathan Rea has started the year in terrific form there’s plenty of reason for optimism along the pit lane.
Thailand will offer a true indication of what to expect this year in WorldSBK and while it’s unlikely we’ll see the same number of bikes fighting for the win, it’s likely that the scrap at the front will be just as competitive.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and championships aren’t won on the opening weekend of the season, but in Australia Jonathan Rea put down a marker to the field that showed that he won’t relinquish his World Superbike title without a fight.
Asphalt & Rubber is fortunate to publish this outstanding photos by friend and photographer/journalist Steve English. Most motorcycle racing fans will know Steve for his work in the MotoGP paddock, but thankfully his skills translate well on dirt ovals. We hope you enjoy his work and captions. -JB
Failure to prepare leads to failure. On Friday, Brad Baker made sure that everything was just right for him to succeed on Sunday. Having crashed heavily last year and broken his shoulder and elbow, the Washington native took a different approach to this year’s Superprestigio.
“Last year was tough and when I crashed I was just trying so hard. This year I took a different approach because the win is given on the last race and I was building all weekend towards it. Two serious surgeries in two years helps you realize that the most important race is the final. Last year I was going out to impress everyone and I crashed and missed the race. This year I was able to win both finals and it’s great after such an emotional year.”
Double Pro Flat Track Grand National champion Jared Mees wasn’t able to make the magic happen in the Superfinal, but enjoyed the weekend and said afterwards that “I’m glad Brad won because it means that it’s another win for America!”
The flat track rivals both joked that this weekend was a very different challenge for them. “For me and Jared we’re usually on opposite sides and looking to beat each other so it was fun that we both approached this weekend thinking ‘If I don’t win I hope you do,'” was how Baker summed up their approach to the weekend.
“Is that a penny at the apex?” Marc Marquez brought a tremendous style to MotoGP when he arrived three years ago and his flat track style is equally impressive.
Leaning so far off the bike to try and generate grip from the edge of the tire is a very different style to that employed by the full-time flat track racers, but on the 200m Barcelona track it worked well for the Spaniard.