MotoAmerica: PJ Jacobsen Returning To America To Race And Aims To Win Again
By David Swarts
After racing overseas for the last seven seasons, American Patrick “PJ” Jacobsen is returning home to compete in the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series and there’s only one thing on his mind – winning.
First, however, let’s re-introduce Jacobsen as many fans in America may not be too familiar with everything the 25-year-old has accomplished so far.
Jacobsen, a second-generation racer from rural New York, started racing dirt track when he was three years old. After a successful career as an amateur (including 26 different Championships in flat track, supermoto, and ice racing), Jacobsen linked up with Celtic Racing racer/team owner Barry Gilsenan and started road racing.
In 2006, Jacobsen won the USGPRU 125cc National Championship and the AMA Road Race 125cc Grand Championship with Celtic Racing. In 2008, Jacobsen placed 22nd in a wild card appearance in the 125cc class at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP (making him the youngest American ever in the 125cc World Championship).
Two successful wild card appearances in the Spain led to Jacobsen getting a full-time ride with the Aspar 125cc team in the 2009 Repsol CEV/Spanish National Championship. There, the young New Yorker did well and earned sixth in the Championship and became the first American to finish on a CEV 125cc podium, where he stood next to race winner Jonas Folger (the 2008 125cc World Champion) and runner-up Johann Zarco (the 2015 and 2016 Moto2 World Champion) at Valencia.
Jacobsen passed on an opportunity to continue with Aspar in the 2010 CEV/Spanish 125cc National Championship and instead decided to ride a Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 in the 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship. In his spare time in 2010, Jacobsen competed in the AMA Grand National Flat Track Championship and earned the 2010 AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year award.
The following season, Celtic Racing partnered with Fast by Ferracci and put Jacobsen on a Ducati 848, with which he earned two podium finishes.
After a World Supersport ride fell through for 2012, Jacobsen landed on a Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000 toward the end of the 2012 British Superstock 1000 Championship and he podiumed in each of the last three races of the season, winning one. And when the British Championship went to Assen, where the Superstock 1000 class did not run, Tyco Suzuki entered Jacobsen on a GSX-R600 in Supersport and he won his debut race in the class. And Jacobsen did this all on tracks unfamiliar to him.
Tyco Suzuki signed Jacobsen for 2013 and promoted him to their factory-backed British Superbike team.
Jacobsen then placed ninth in the 2013 British Superbike Championship, with a podium finish at Assen and four top-five finishes in the ultra competitive series.
Jacobsen turned down offers of factory rides in the 2014 British Superbike Championship and accepted a seat on a Kawasaki satellite team in the 2014 FIM Supersport World Championship, fulfilling his dream of racing in the World Championship. The 2014 season ended with Jacobsen sixth in the Supersport World Championship thanks to two podium finishes and four top-five results in the 11-race series, earning him recognition in that paddock.
Jacobsen stayed with Intermoto Kawasaki for the start of the 2015 Supersport World Championship, but the team imploded mid-season. Before it did, however, Jacobsen switched to the CORE Honda Supersport team. Jacobsen finished the season strongly with two pole positions, two victories — making him the first American to ever win a World Supersport race — seven total podiums, and second in the World Championship.
Jacobsen ended up on the Ten Kate Honda factory team for the 2016 Supersport World Championship, when he earned four more podium finishes and fourth in the Championship. Jacobsen also did guest rides for the F.C.C. TSR Honda Endurance World Championship team, and at the Suzuka 8-Hours Jacobsen was the fastest Honda rider during the Special Stage (a.k.a. Superpole) qualifying event.
MV Agusta hired Jacobsen to ride a F3 675 for its factory World Supersport team in 2017 and he took three pole positions and three podium finishes, but mechanical problems resulted in multiple DNFs, contributing to him finishing sixth in the final point standings.
In 2018, Jacobsen landed the opportunity to move up to Superbike World Championship, but he did so with Triple M Racing Honda, a team with little racing experience and no experience in World Superbike. That overall lack of experience led to little in the way of race results, and Jacobsen and the team parted ways before the end of the 2018 season.
But while all of that was going on, Honda had still enough faith in Jacobsen to select him to fill in for the injured Leon Camier on its factory team at the Suzuka 8-Hours, and Jacobsen co-rode to second place in the prestigious event.
Now, after working hard to get into and stay in the World Championship, Jacobsen has made the difficult decision to come home to the United States and try to reinvigorate his career by racing for Celtic/HSBK Racing, a partnership between Gilsenan and HSBK Racing’s Bobby Shek in the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship.
“I’m really happy that Barry and Bobby got together and were able to make this happen for me,” Jacobsen told Roadracingworld.com in a telephone interview from his home in New York. “Leaving the World Championship was the hardest thing I’ve had to do, but I know what it takes to win. You have to be on the right bike and with the right team, and that just wasn’t going to happen for me over there this year.
“At this point, I just want the chance to win again. It’s been a long time since I’ve won anything, and I want to be able to line up on a bike that I know is capable of winning. I know that Barry and Bobby are going to be able to give that to me. I just can’t wait to get out on the bike and start testing.”
Of all the bikes Jacobsen has raced in his career, he’s never raced a Yamaha YZF-R6, and that played a role in him choosing this option instead of the other options available to him for 2019.
“Truthfully, I’m sick of having to race against them [Yamahas] all these years in World Supersport,” said Jacobsen. “I’ve never had the opportunity to be on a Yamaha YZF-R6, and it’s clearly the bike to be on in Supersport. I think with the right bike I can do a good job.”
Asked what he sees as the toughest challenges in coming back to race in America, Jacobsen said, “There are some tracks that I haven’t raced at in a long time, like Sonoma Raceway and Pittsburgh, but I’m not too concerned with that. I’ve spent the last several years learning new tracks all around the world, so that’s not going to be a problem.
“The biggest thing, I think, will be learning the tires. I haven’t raced on Dunlops in a long time, so that will take some getting used to.”
And Jacobsen isn’t only coming back home to road race with MotoAmerica, he’s also going to be racing an Indian Scout FTR750 for Team Nila/Coolbeth Racing in the American Flat Track (AFT) Twins Championship, like fellow MotoAmerica racer JD Beach.
Asked how he is going to handle the three weekends when MotoAmerica and AFT are both racing, Jacobsen said, “My program is a little bit different than JD Beach’s, because I know he’s going for the Championship in both. I’m only going to do nine American Flat Track events, so I won’t have any conflicts. I decided to do both because I might not get the opportunity to do both like this again. It’s the way Kenny Roberts and all of those guys did it back in the day, so it’s going to be good.”
While some racers are modest when asked for their expectations for the coming season, Jacobsen has clear goals in his mind.
“I want to win,” said Jacobsen. “I know there are going to be some tough guys out there, but I want to win.”