Jake Skate and team compete in the CIV Championship
Riders – Jack Mahaffy and Joel Kelso
JDS Moto team recently headed to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli to compete in the first bout of the six-round 2018 CIV (Campionato Italiano Velocita) Championship in Italy. MCNews.com.au caught up with the young Aussies and JDS Moto team manager Jake Skate for an insight into how the opening weekend of their campaign panned out.
JDS are running young Australians Jack Mahaffy (3rd 2017 ASBK SS300) on a Yamaha YZF-R3 in Supersport 300, and Joel Kelso (2017 ASBK Moto3 Champ) on the RMU in the Pre-Moto3 category.
In Jake’s words
For the weekend at Misano, we didn’t really know what to expect; we had never attended a CIV round before and were running a team in Europe for the first time, which certainly put us as a small fish in a very big pond!
It was the first time we had been to Italy, and we essentially built a team infrastructure in less than a month, while not being able to speak the language or know where anything was!
We were parked in the paddock and to our left, a single rider SS300 team had a huge semi-trailer and hospitality unit, and to the front, the Barni Racing (essentially WorldSBK team) was running MotoGP test rider Michele Pirro in the Superbike class.
We have a small rigid truck, and two six-metre quick shades for our pit set-up. Just a little bit smaller than the big teams!
We arrived at the circuit on the Wednesday, met up with our two Italian mechanics Francesco and Leonardo, and unloaded the truck, within which the team sleeps in for the weekend.
The Paddock is quite different to Australia, the noise curfew for running race bikes seems to be about 1am. However, it was not uncommon to find someone running a Moto3 bike or to hear a loud Ducati Superbike at 2am in the pits being prepared for the next day. Nearly all the teams stay at the circuit, so there is plenty of activity until late.
The format for the weekend saw us have Thursday – 3 x Free Practice, Friday – Free Practice and Qualifying 1, Saturday – Qualifying 2 and Race 1, and Sunday – Warm up and Race 2.
We tested at Misano the previous week, and Joel had identified an issue that the bike was skidding when changing down gears. The RMU PreMoto3 was a new bike for him, and although it was handling great, Joel was struggling on corner entry. We subsequently discovered the engine manufacturer had forgotten to install the slipper clutch…
We were given the slipper clutch to install ourselves on Thursday morning, but opted to fit it after the opening session. When we then went to fit the clutch we found it didn’t have all the parts required, which eventually saw us manufacturing a new clutch push-rod in the pits with an angle grinder. We got Joel out again for the final session on Thursday, which was wet.
Jack opted to just do the middle dry session for some track time, and to familiarise himself with the circuit.
Thursday Night Leonardo, Francesco and myself worked more on Joel’s clutch to try to make it have less drag for Friday qualifying. We finally got right and took it for a test run at about 2am up and down the pits before bed!
Friday morning saw Joel head out in to Free Practice 1 for really his first proper session for the weekend, finishing P13 of 30 bikes. The machine had developed an issue with the engine starting to cut out in corners, it was manageable at this stage though and we concentrated our work on set-up.
Jack headed out for his FP1, and with some slight suspension changes ended P8 out of 50 bikes, most of the riders in front of him had very respectable pedigrees.
Qualifying 1 then came around for both riders, Joel’s issues with the bike cutting out had become worse, now the bike was also intermittently not selecting gears. He pushed through the session to end up in 16th place. Jack however had a very promising session finishing up in 6th.
Qualifying 2 for both riders on Saturday morning was held early, and with the temperatures so low, it was always going to be a push to improve anything before the session.
With no spare motor for Joel, we had no choice but to push forward with the gearbox issues, however we had discovered it was a fuel pump causing the cut-out issues and we were able to fix this problem. Joel and Jack both finished the session in 13th, with eventual grid positions of P17 for Joel and P8 for Jack. A promising start for our first international race meeting.
By Race 1 for PreMoto3 Joel’s gearbox was reaching a state were it was dropping back gears in corners, and then intermittently not selecting gears at all, once or twice a lap.
He had a good race and moved forward to finish in 9th place battling with another RMU, but we knew we had work to do if he was to progress further.
After a small crash in Qualifying 2 for Jack, we noticed the bike had lost front brake pressure, we replaced the Master cylinder and Caliper and the pressure came up. However a lap into the race, it lost pressure and the lever came to the bar, running in the front group, Jack ran off and came back on track in 25th place, eventually fighting back to 10th.
The brake problem we then traced back to the crimping on the brake line banjo bolt, which would leak under extreme pressure!
Race 2 for Joel only got more difficult, with the gearbox becoming so unpredictable that on the second lap the bike jumped out of gear mid corner and caused him to crash, he remounted and finished in 19th place.
Jack had a fantastic beginning to Race 2, chasing eventual race winner Thomas Brianti into second place but then lost the front and crashed. Jack remounted but was only able to salvage 24th place.
It was certainly a big weekend for our first entry into a European championship, but it was a great experience to take essentially our small ASBK team from 2017 to Europe and run with some of the worlds best. We know what we have to do to come back stronger and now have a few weeks to prepare for Round 2 of the CIV at Mugello on May 4-6!