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Rahal Ducati Moto Team Visits XPEL Headquarters

Rahal Ducati Moto Inaugural Season in MotoAmerica 2024

This 2024 season of the MotoAmerica SuperSport sees the debut of Rahal Ducati Moto, a new race team spearheaded by Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby Rahal, as team owners. Managed by five-time MotoAmerica champion Ben Spies overseeing the two young but highly experienced riders, Patrick "PJ" Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov, armed with a set of bright yellow XPEL sponsored Ducati Panigale V2 superbikes.

XPEL is no stranger to motorsports. It has worked with Team Penske Racing, sponsored events in NASCAR and IndyCar, and sponsored race teams for the Rebelle Rally and Pike's Peak Hill Climb.

Jacobsen pilots the No. 15 XPEL Ducati, and Yaakov is on the No.19 Ducati Panigale V2. Both riders have mile-long resumes in racing but are new faces in MotoAmerica. Kayla Yaakov only recently met the age requirements to compete in the supersport class when she turned 16. Meanwhile, Jacobsen's debut in MotoAmerica earned him a third-place finish in the 2023 season.

Team Rahal Ducati Moto Tours XPEL HQ

MotoAmerica supersport riders PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov toured the XPEL training headquarters to gain a firsthand impression of the brand supporting their team. They met with CEO Ryan Pape, training instructors, veteran installers, and design specialists behind XPEL's industry-leading surface protection film products. They got hands-on experience applying XPEL paint protection film on a sizzling red Ducati motorcycle.

During the tour, we learned more about these incredibly talented motorsport athletes and gained insight into the mind behind the helmet visor.

Riding with Pro Racers PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov

Certain people seemed destined for specific paths in life. Professional motorcycle riders PJ Jacobsen and Kayal Yaakov are case examples, as both riders were only a few years short of being born on two wheels. They started their racing careers at an age when most kids were learning to color between the lines and tie their own shoes. Naturally, we were curious to know more about what it's like to surf tarmac at triple-digit speeds for a living.

When we first met the Rahal Ducati Moto team's riders, Jacobsen and Yaakov, we noticed the firmness in their handshake. Their grip was vice-like, a result of years of built-up muscle memory from holding on to handlebars while gravity and velocity tried to pull them away. Their friendly demeanor, supported by their professionalism, made it easy to talk to them as we sat down to discuss the fine art of motorcycle racing.

MotoAmerica Ducati Rider Kayla Yaakov was Born to Race

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 5 and was competing 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. While on the topic of velocity, we asked her if she had a favorite speed to travel at, and 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, and based on her track record, there's a good chance 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.

MotoAmerica Ducati Rider Patrick PJ Jacobsen, the Veteran Prodigy

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

After meeting the age requirements, he began his first professional racing year in 2010 and 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.

Spend enough time around the same circuits, and you're bound to encounter like-minded people. We asked if PJ Jacobsen knew Kayla Yaakov before they signed on with Rahal Ducati Moto. It turns out they've known each other for years but from a distance. This 2024 season is their first time getting to know each other. "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 the turn, 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.

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.

2024 MotoAmerica Schedule

The 2024 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship season 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.

XPEL is proud to support PJ Jacobsen and Kayla Yaakov on their journey with Rahal Ducati Moto in their first MotoAmerica season. We'll be with them at every race, ensuring that the bright yellow livery on their Ducati Panigale V2 superbikes is flawless during qualifying and race day. Follow us and the Rahal Ducati Moto on social media to keep updated during the 2024 season as we watch history at over 170 mph.