Trials Torque Articles
The NonStop team have been following young Jake Whitaker closely over the past few months as he has taken on the best in the trials world.
From a very young age Jake has wanted to live his dream of being a top rider and has proven this desire beyond a doubt as he moved quickly through all the grades on offer in NZ, becoming NZ Expert champion in 2007. Jake was the youngest rider ever to have won this prestigious title.
While his competitors had the luxury of riding larger 250cc bikes, to Jake's credit he took the title on a smaller 125cc machine, which is the largest capacity allowed in the world youth grade he is competing in this year.
After many hours and many phone calls, before we knew it Jake was packing his bags and flying off to Europe to join one of the biggest and best-run teams on the world stage; the very professional Future Trial Racing Team.
Jake was asked to ride the newly developed Future Trial Racing Team HM Future 125 4T four-stroke, derived from the tried and proven Honda 4RT trials motorcycle. Future Trial Racing Team also produce a 300cc version of this machine, which Jake's team mates James Dabill and Alex Wigg are currently campaigning.
At NonStop we considered that involvement with Future Trials Racing Team was a good option for Jake as the team is very solid and professionally run. However, we also knew that as the only rider campaigning a four-stroke bike in this 125 class, Jake would not only have to overcome the challenges of being away from home and family for the first time, but would also have to adjust to a machine that even more talented riders such as Patrick Smage chose not to compete on.
The HM Future 125 4T has proven very reliable to date as Jake has competed in and finished all of his scheduled rides both in Italian championships and world youth championships. Having ridden four-stroke machines myself, however, I was aware that Jake was going to have to change his riding style on the new machine, as the four-strokes have always been heavier. Jake's bike weighs in at 71kgs. Since the engine only fires half as often as his competitors' two-stroke machines, he is also faced with totally different power characteristics. This all equates to the rider having to work harder to achieve the same result as that achieved on a 125 two-stroke.
Even top senior rider and 7-times World Champion Dougie Lampkin took a couple of seasons to adjust to his new four-stroke machine after having ridden two-strokes his entire career. Honda Racing Centre (HRC) have spent huge sums on development over several seasons to make their four-stroke competitive against two-strokes, in order to win back the world title on their works HRC four-stroke machine.
We believed it would be a huge achievement for Jake, as one of the youngest competitors, to finish consistently within the top 15 in the youth world championship in his first season. Many of his rivals this season will be leaving the youth grade at the end of the year, making Jake a top contender for the 2009 season.
When Josh Coppins visited NonStop to speak with Jake before his departure, he encouraged him to focus on his riding as much as possible, since it is easy to be side-tracked by the environment, language and details of the events. Josh is based quite near to Jake's Italian home and encouraged Jake to contact him about any difficulties he encountered either with language or protocol, as he has spent many years learning the ropes himself. Josh has invited Jake, his minder Karl Clarke and other members of TRW to his motocross events when a gap in competition has allowed them time out.
To our delight, Jake has far exceeded our expectations and is currently running in the top ten with an outstanding ride in Japan putting him in 4th position as he ended round five. He was also very popular with the Japanese crowd, who held up banners cheering him on. Slogans like 'Go Jake', 'Get psyched Jake' and 'Go kiwi' all added to the wonderful atmosphere at Motegi in Japan. Jake commented how encouraging this was, and in part he attributes his great result to the enthusiastic fan club he had all that weekend.
We at NonStop would like to take this opportunity to wish Jake all the best for the remainder of the season and congratulate him on his efforts so far. He is an asset to motorcycling in New Zealand and a great ambassador for our sport and country.
This would not have been possible without the support of his parents Michelle and Pat Whitaker and his minder Karl Clark and his family, who are acting as a home away from home, along with all the text/phone support Jake receives from back home. Great Effort Team! We look forward to the coming months.
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