TOV: So ah, I'll ask you a couple rider questions, you were originally on the X-Games Supermoto list last year and then you decided to opt out. What happened, did you decide you need to focus [on Superbike]?
Jake: Weellll it really came down to a timing issue. We didn't really have the proper amount of time to go out and test the bike and get it dialed and set up. If we were gonna go to X-Games we're going there to win it, we weren't going there to you know...
TOV: Podium or get fifth place...
Jake: Yeah we weren't going there to just be a field-filler, we were gonna go there to win the thing. And we didn't really have the time and opportunities with our racing and testing schedules and you know, trying to put the thing together...it was just a bit too late to do that. After last year we were like, we couldn't do it, but we really wanted to so for this year we were on board to do it but unfortunately [there was a] scheduling conflict, we've got an AMA road race that same weekend so we'll be at Mid-Ohio instead.
But we're sending MC (Jeremy McGrath) back there and he'll carry the flag for Honda I'm sure. He does a really good job at it and I'm pretty sure he's doing the step up and the Supermoto both so he'll be back out there. The pace he was running last year after that crash, he had the pace to win. I know he's fired up, he's here this weekend, I'm sure you'll probably run into him.
TOV: So do you use Supermoto to train?
Jake: You know what? I don't, I don't even have a supermoto bike at home and that was part of the problem with last year. [It's] the fact that I didn't have a bike and Honda didn't really have a bike ready for me to go practice on and put laps on, and it was too late to try and source stuff to build it. When the whole thing came up and we got the invite, we had a very, very short time frame, I think it was like a month before the race. So to actually go out and build a bike...and we were still racing and testing in between that too so really there was only like onnneeee maybe two weeks we actually had that we could actually test...and like I said the time frame really didn't work out.
TOV: It kinda seemed like X-Games knew who they were gonna invite, and they told you guys a long time before, then released the list to the public. I didn't know they didn't tell you guys until a month before.
Jake: They have two releases. The first release, which is fairly early is the first ten. Then the second set they release a little bit later. It was the second ten when they invited me, and like I said timing-wise and the fact that I don't have a bike sitting at home that I had already been practicing on and I haven't really used supermoto to train or anything so its kinda tough. There's only one track that's close so then you know, you wanna go ride with the guys that are doing it week in and week out. For me its an 8 hour trip so its a little bit tougher.
Whereas like for last year Eric Bostrom's house in Temecula is really close to a couple [of] tracks. So he's within a hour roundtrip whereas for me its an eight hour trip so its a little bit tougher. That's just the way it is, we just didn't have the time to do it last year and we were really looking forward to this year but unfortunately there was the schedule conflict so maybe for 07 we'll be out there
TOV: You'll get there eventually. So have you ever thought about doing any of the big one-off races? I know in the past it was a big thing for the factory guys to go out to Isle of Mann or do the Suzuka 8 hour or Bol D'or...
Jake: Yeah, the schedule works out actually, we were invited to go do the Suzuka 8 hour this year. I had crashed at Barber early on in the season and I actually messed up my back pretty good and I'm still having problems with it when we got the invite. It's the same type of thing, you don't wanna go over there to finish fifth. You're going there to win and in order to do that you have to be 100% healthy for a long endurance race like that where you're gonna spend 4 hours on the bike and your teammate's gonna spend 4 hours on the bike.
You definitely have to be ready to go and my training has definitely been lacking this year because of the back injury. Now I'm starting to feel better, we'll see how it goes, the short track time probably won't be too bad but even at Miller I was still having problems with my back. We had to decline the offer which is awfully hard to do, especially because we were gonna have works bikes and it would've been really good and its ufortunate that we couldn't do it. But like I said I'm not gonna go over unless we can win the thing. Just another one of those deals where the timing just wasn't quite right.
TOV: Was it gonna be you and Miguel doing it?
Jake: Yeah. Yeah it was gonna be a full American team, it was gonna be myself and Miguel and I think it would've been really, really good. I mean, we both have experience doing long races obviously with the [Daytona] 200 and stuff and you know, he's one of the toughest guys to beat at that race. I think we would've done really, really well over there.
So hopefully the opportunity will be there next year for us and hopefully we'll both be 100% healthy and we can go over there and do it. Because I think that would be an awesome opportunity and we would do really good.
TOV: Yeah, you guys are the best superbike riders for Honda in the world. Kiyonari and Takahashi are the other two guys, I'm sure you could've taken it to 'em.
Jake: Yeah Takahashi actually broke his leg practicing for the 8 hour (NOTE: he actually fractured his forearm). So it'll be interesting to see who teaming with Kiyonari now, it'll be really interesting to see who they drop in the spot. Yeah, right after he won that race, I think it was in Germany.
Jake: He went to Japan to test for the 8 hour and crashed and broke his leg.
TOV: Well as long as we can beat Yamaha again that's all I'm worried about. So yeah how about Isle of Mann or [the] Baja 1000, would you like to try [them] sometime?
Jake: Ahhhh, Baja probably not, that's not my cup of tea. But Isle of Mann I don't know if that'd be my cup of tea either you know. I think that's a race that...you don't just go out there and win that thing or go out there and compete in it. The guys that do really well there are the guys that have been there for lots of years and that's...a race that you can't make any mistakes. There's no room for error and that's why I think the guys with most amount of experience always win down there. The guys that have been around that place you know, year after year after year are the ones that do the best there. You know Honda's definitely got some guys over there that take care of business over there so I don't think they need my help, that's for sure.
TOV: So, what are your goals for the next five to ten years as a rider? Obviously to put together some AMA championships...
Jake: Yeah definitely, the AMA Superbike championship is at the front of the list as far as the goals go. You know, obviously with the development of this motorcycle we've gotten it now to the point where it can win races and run at the front consistently. We need to be a little bit farther along I mean we've only really challenged in one race so far this year. We need to get to where we can challenge those guys week in and week out and that's what its gonna take to win the championship. You know as long as the progression of the bike continues to go ahead I definitely see that as a possibility. And that's what I'll be shooting for for the next year.
Then after that...we'll just have to see where it takes us
TOV: How 'bout if Honda were to do another factory effort in World Superbike?
Jake: I'd have to look at it at the time. It really comes down to timing and opportunities that are available. If it was a full effort with HRC and Honda Europe, then you know yeah possibly we'd look at it. Right now the series in America is so strong that-...you can see it, I mean here's Neil Hodgson who's World Superbike champion and he's over here and he hasn't even been on the box yet this year. And that's not to knock Neil because Neil's a great rider.
I've gotten to race with him quite a few times last year and this year and he's an awesome rider but it just kinda goes to show the level of talent that is here in America. There's some guys over there [WSBK] that are really good but if you look at, just for example, the Philip Island test where Mladin was at, his pace is right on there with the top guys over there.
I think with that being said I like being in America, I like the fans and the atmosphere here and like I said we'll have to wait and see if those opportunities do arise then we'll have to take a little bit closer look at 'em. But for now I'm perfectly happy being where I'm at.
TOV: Well thanks, I don't wanna go on and on because I could ask you a hundred questions but thanks for taking the time with us. Good luck this weekend, all of the Honda folks are gonna be rooting for you.