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Grid talk – Jake Skate | Columns | Gassit Garage

Jake Skate’s JDS Moto is about to take on the CIV Italian Championship with young Aussies Joel Kelso and Jack Mahaffy

What prompted you and the team to make the leap to compete in Italy?

We just felt like our bikes and riders were competitive enough to compete in Europe. Seeing what riders had to go through to try and find a good stepping stone to race in Europe, I thought it would be a good thing to develop a pathway.  When Australians want to make the move, they can now do it with an Australian team – an Australian crew chief, things that would make them feel most comfortable, especially since they are still young.

How do you plan around something like this?

We wanted to be able to hit the ground running with all the same equipment we have here, so there is as little disruption as possible. I noticed when people were doing wildcards at GPs, it’s challenging starting from scratch with a completely new bike and category.

For Joel (Kelso), he is riding a new class called Pre-Moto3. It’s an RMU Moto3 bike, but they run a TM250 dirtbike motor. It’s cheaper than running a full-spec Moto3 bike but the competition is still really high. And his bike is being built over in Europe.

Jack (Mahaffy) will ride 300 Supersport, where tyres and suspension are the same as ASBK. With the engine, we can change the head gasket so there is a little more compression – and we also changed some things in the airbox – but it’s pretty much the ASBK bike we used this year.

We were originally going to send a 20-foot container with everything we had, but we’ve culled that idea a little. We’ll airfreight the bikes over so the boys can develop them as much as possible before they leave.

How are preparations coming along?

The language barrier and time differences have been difficult.

There’s been a friend of a friend helping out in Italy, and Greg Epis has been really helpful. First up, I will head to Ireland and meet up with Mike Meskell, who has sorted out a truck and other things we need – which I thought would be easier being able to deal with in English. In Italy, we all plan to stay in one house, based in Rimini and racing at Misano, Mugello, Imola and Vellalunga. I’ll be over there for two weeks before the riders come to get everything set up.

I will be crew chief for Joel and Jack’s dad Gerry will crew chief for Jack. RMU will provide us with two to three mechanics from their factory as part of the deal. I’d like more, but we don’t have the budget at the moment.

What’s your own background? How did you get into racing and find yourself running a race team at 26?

I started working for Computime when I was 10 or 11. My whole family has always been involved with racing so it was in the blood, I guess.

Four or five years ago I began working with Joel helping him build his junior bikes, and then last year we put together the JDS Moto team, running a full year with two riders after Jack came on board.

And the Italian championship is chosen for career progression?

We hope so! It should offer great competition. It’s all about compromises, though. While the production classes are cheaper, when they are so heavily regulated you can’t adjust things like suspension or frames, so when riders progress to a GP bike they don’t know what changes to make to getthe feeling they need.

It’s all well and good to develop a rider, but if you can’t develop a bike to match your style then you’re stuffed when you head overseas.

Joel has his heart firmly set on the GP path. He wants to race Moto3 in the World Championship eventually. The Moto3 is a pretty off-the-shelf bike, but it is a bike that is built to race. Jack is a bit bigger, the competition in ASBK is hard and he really enjoyed it. It’s not to say he can’t go to Moto3, but given his size it would be more logical to look at the 300 World Championship, or Moto2, something like that.