Meeting Motorcycle Racing Prodigies Patrick PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov

Meeting Motorcycle Racing Prodigies Patrick PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov

by Jesus Garcia - Photos by Mario Jimenez - 04/24/2024

Sometimes, your main and side hustles intersect. When word around the electronic grapevine came down that Ducati superbike riders PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov were touring the XPEL Inc. headquarters, I quickly left the comfort of my at-home office to meet them. XPEL is no stranger to motorsports, working with Team Penske Racing and sponsoring NASCAR, IndyCar, and Pike's Peak Hill Climb race teams. 

After the team toured the facility and learned the precise art of applying XPEL paint protection film on a sizzling red Ducati, it was time to shake hands. Their vice-like handshake grip and natural steely eye look were clear signs that they were people who spent their time surfing tarmac at triple-digit speeds for a living. 

Certain people seemed destined for specific paths in life. Professional motorcycle riders PJ Jacobsen and Kayal Yaakov are case examples. Both riders were only a few years short of being born on two wheels, starting their racing careers at an age when most kids were learning to color between the lines and tie their own shoes. 

Meeting Motorcycle Racing Prodigies Patrick PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov

To say that Kayla Yaakov was born to race is an underestimate. She's been moving fast since before she started preschool. Her first experience with speed was a go-kart around age 4, but the peddle didn't start snowballing down the mountain until she rode her first bike ride and discovered her father's past in motorcycle racing. 

She started riding competitively at age five and racing at an expert level by age 12. She's been making history in motion ever since. For example, she's the first female road racer to achieve a podium win during the MotoAmerica era of AMA-sanctioned professional road racing.

"From the beginning, I knew my goal was to become a pro," said Kayla Yaakov. Given her extensive motorcycle knowledge, we wanted to know her favorite aspect of riding. "I like diving into the corner and feeling the bike move around under you," mastering the dance of throttle and braking to get in and out of a corner as fast as possible. 

During a race, Kayla Yaakov is focused on creating a rhythm to follow while her muscle memory handles the physical task of riding. Regarding velocity, we asked her if she had a favorite speed, to which her answer was as swift as her response, "Faster." 

When she isn't riding or being an older sister, she's plucking strings on her bass guitar and acoustic guitar and even has experience playing the saxophone for the school band. She says practicing music is a great mental escape from the stress and fatigue of travel and racing. Meditation has also served her as a therapeutic method to unplug and recharge. 

Kayla Yaakov's ongoing career has seen over 47 regional championships and 410 race wins. Someone with that kind of winning record prompts others to approach her for tips and advice. It became a habit, so much so that Kayla now offers private coaching sessions to riders and racers looking to sharpen their edge. She's happy to lend her expertise to help those desiring to improve. 

Seeing someone so young achieving a lifetime's career in only a few short years and with many more miles to go is inspiring. Her goal is to be in the MotoGP padlock by her 21st birthday. Her track record indicates that she'll get there faster than expected. Her advice to any young rider with dreams of going pro is to enter as many amateur-level competitions as possible and build upwards. Fortune favors the bold, but practice makes perfect. 

Ducati Rider Patrick PJ Jacobsen, the Veteran Prodigy

Rahal Ducati Moto rider Patrick "PJ" Jacobsen started making headlines in motorsport at a young age. He was only 11 when he earned the AMA Youth Dirt Tracker of the Year title in 2005 and was drafted into the Red Bull MotoGP Academy in 2007. 

In 2010, after meeting the age requirements, he began his first professional racing year. During his pro racer debut year, he earned the 2010 Progressive American Flat Track Rookie of the Year award. He would go on to compete in the MotoAmerica Superbike division during the 2023 season championship and finished third. Jacobsen hopes to bring that winning momentum to the Rahal Ducati Moto team for this 2024 debut season. "I think people are going to be very surprised by her," said Jacobsen when speaking about Yaakov as a rider in her first season of MotoAmerica. 

When it comes to honing his skill, PJ Jacobsen's method is straightforward, "I ride as much as I can." If he's not sleeping, you'll usually find him doing laps on his supermoto bike, practicing the trapeze act of sliding into a corner and hitting the throttle to carry as much speed as possible. Ultimately, the thin line in the sand separating talented riders from pros from talented is a devotion to consistency. 

Meeting Motorcycle Racing Prodigies Patrick PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov

In a race, he likes to be firmly in the moment to prevent careless mistakes. He states that it can be easy with muscle memory to zone out and start thinking about post-race events, podium celebrations, or dinner plans. Those brief mind-wandering moments can cost a rider half a second, a slight skew from the racing line, or being overtaken. 

When he's not racing, PJ Jacobsen works with young riders as part of the Jacobsen Motorcycle Training Establishment. We asked PJ Jacobsen what made him start his training program for the next generation of riders. "I know what it's like to be a young rider and look up to someone." He understands the responsibility of now being in a position where people look up to him to set the example of a positive role model. 

If you're fortunate enough to be in a position of accomplishment, the best way to show appreciation is to pass on the acquired wisdom. 

Rahal Ducati Moto Debut Season in MotoAmerica 2024

This 2024 season of the MotoAmerica SuperSport competition sees the debut of a new team spearheaded by Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby Rahal, as team owners and five-time MotoAmerica champion Ben Spies as team manager. Armed with a set of XPEL yellow Ducati Panigale V2 superbikes, the team's competitive responsibility falls in the capable hands of Patrick "PJ" Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov.

Jacobsen is piloting the No. 15 XPEL Ducati, and Yaakov is on the No.19 Ducati Panigale V2. Both are new faces in MotoAmerica. Although Kayla Yaakov has been racing for years, she only recently met the age requirements to compete in the supersport class when she turned 16 last year. Meanwhile, Jacobsen's debut in MotoAmerica in the 2023 season earned him a third-place finish.

Talent, experience, and Italian-engineered speed are ideal ingredients to produce podium finishes. The only thing missing is a dash of good luck for garnish. 

Rahal Ducati Moto Debut Season in MotoAmerica 2024

XPEL has been proud to support PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov on their journey with Rahal Ducati Moto in their first MotoAmerica season, which kicked off at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, on March 7-9. The first round of the Championship took place at Road Atlanta, Georgia, on April 19-21. The eight more rounds on the season calendar will take the Rahal Ducati Moto team across the country, competing on tracks from iconic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to Austin's Circuits of the Americas, ending at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in September.