Jacob Roulstone is another of Australia’s many talented riders that will be competing in two prestigious championships in Europe this year as he graduates from two years in the European Talent Cup into the recently rebranded FIM Junior GP World Championship (formerly the CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship), as well as competing in the 16th running of the Red Bull Rookies Cup (RBRC).Along with fellow countryman, Harrison Voight it will be a doubled-pronged attack of Aussie representation in both classes for ’22.
In the past few years, Jacob has flown under the radar, as he chases that “yellow brick road” of dreams. He may have gone unnoticed by many on the outside, but he’s been making a bigimpression on many in the race paddocks, and that’s why this year, he has his best prospects of success thus far in his relatively short road racing career.
While he has done plenty of laps of the dirt and bitumen in Australia, the majority of his road racing experiences have been in Asia and Spain. It’s not through choice. It’s just the way it’s all unfolded.
Roulstone kicked off his international travels with the Asia Talent Cup in 2019 where he finished 11th, with five top ten finishes from the 12 races contested.
In that year he also competed in Australia in the new Oceania Junior Cup as well as the 300cc classes but due to date clashes with the ATC, missed three rounds of the ASBK titles.
At the end of 2019 he received an offer to compete in the European Talent Cup, a class of the Spanish CEV Championships, with the Leopard Impala Junior Team and the decision was made to relocate.
With the onslaught of the plague, it was almost over before it started. No sooner had Jacob and his mother, Leah arrived in Spain, the country went into complete lockdown. The pair were confined to their hotel room for 105 days and for the first 10 weeks of lockdown they weren’t allowed out of their room. Contemplate that predicament…
That confined experience would test the mettle of anyone, but for a 15-year-old champing at the bit to go racing and explore new frontiers, it would’ve been extremely challenging – to say the least!
And not only for Jacob.
Parents would empathise with Leah’s plight being locked in a as she attempted to cook up a storm with just a microwave oven and a single hot-plate! There’s only so much hotel room service food one can handle at the best of times, let along in a lockdown
Thankfully, the season was contested and at the completion of his first year in the ETC, Roulstone finished a very creditable 17th overall with a brace of top ten finishes.
Pretty impressive considering the circumstances. Especially in a field stacked with locals who knew all the vagaries of the local tracks that hosted the ETC after racing on the tracks for years.
The progression and improvement continued in the ETC last year, after he signed again with the Leopold Impala Junior team.
Jacob kicked off the year perfectly with a win at the opening round at Estoril (Portugal), however he had to wait until the final round at Valencia to climb the podium again: In the first race of the final round, he finished second, 0.120 sec off the win and backed that up with third place in his final race in ETC, for ninth overall.
After two years in the European Talent Cup, Jacob makes the move upwards into the newly-named “Junior GP” category with the highly regarded, and vastly experienced personnel involved with the Aspar Gas Gas Junior Team, owned by multiple world champion and living legend, Jorge “Aspar” Martinez.
Being signed to the team is a massive dose of credibility and the faith they have in Jacob’s ability. For a rider to sign with Team Aspar you have to have that “something”.
It’s not all about money, as some may have you believe, as all riders – particularly Spaniards – dream of a ride in Aspar’s team.
Jacob’s signing for the future is also kudos to Aspar for looking outside the locals of the Iberian peninsula to sign the Australian teenager, when there may have been plenty of attractive alternatives.
Martinez has not only taken notice of his efforts, but has brought him into the fold, and not with just a short term plan. There are long tern goals pencilled in for the teenager, if Roulstone can deliver.
Hopefully with the faith shown by Martinez, in the next year or so, Jacob’s name and his talents will become more familiar to followers of road racing, not only in Australia, but worldwide.
DOB: 4 Feb 2005
Lives: Jamberoo (NSW)
Mark Bracks: So where did you start? Were you a dirt tracker like many others?
Jacob Roulstone: “Firstly, I started with MX for a bit of fun. When I was younger, Dad did a bit of road racing so we were always around that. We tried some flat track and enjoyed that, traveling all over for a couple of years. I won three Australian Championships in 85-150cc Big Wheeland 80cc modified.
“I also rode an NSF100 at the local kart track, every week nothing major, just working on the small bike. My father wanted me to be able to push the small bikes around, lose the front, lose the rear and learn on an old Moriwaki 80 as well around places like Eastern Creek and Wakefield, with the St George club. and then at Broadford and at Phillip Island.
“In 2018 we went to the ATC try-outs and I was fortunate to be invited to do the ATC in 2019, where my best result was a fourth.
“Also in 2019, I did the new Oceania Junior Cup and the 300cc classes as well. I never really gelled with the 300 bikes. At the time I was only quite small, and very light, and it was difficult to move around on the larger machine.
“I suit the Moto 3 and the European Talent bikes a lot better, but I have shot up in the last year.
“After the ATC I went to Europe for the 2020 European Talent Cup with the Leopard Impala Junior Team, riding a Honda NSF250R, the same bikes as ATC except we had more data. When I went over to Europe I was a year older than a lot of the riders because they do stuff a lot earlier now.
“For ’22 my dreams are coming true as I have been signed with the Aspar Gas Gas junior team. They are a very good team.
“As well, I have been lucky enough to be selected for the RBRC as well.
“The Gas Gas Moto 3 is pretty much a KTM, like the Rookies bike, so they are quite similar. If we were on a Honda , like in the ETC, it would be more difficult to jump from one to another.”
Bracks: How do you rate your last couple of years?
Roulstone: “Really good. In 2020 I had not many expectations. It was a learning year; what it was like living over in Europe. I learnt all the data engineering, all the differences so you can ride over there as it is very different to here; how they ride. They’re a lot more aggressive. A lot faster.
“In 2021 they were about two-seconds faster than in 2020. I don’t know why. It was just ridiculous. They’re closer to Moto3 times which is incredible.
“To finish ninth in the championship out of 50 riders is quite good and to be the first of theinternationals, I think up to 15th, the rest were Spanish is very good too. It was productive year and I am extremely happy with it.”
Bracks: No doubt that had a bearing with where you have ended up with the team for this year.
Roulstone: “Absolutely. You could be the best kid but you still have to have the results.”
Bracks:But you have to behave off the bike as well.
Roulstone: “Yes for sure. You don’t want you or your team to be disrespectful. Sometime you have to bite your lip if there is an issue. You always have to be thinking about that. My parents have taught me quite well in that regard.”
Bracks: You seem to have had a similar path to Harry Voight racing against each other growing up and now in the same class again this year?
Roulstone:” Yeah we were doing the same thing with dirt track for awhile so we have raced against each other a bit but I think he went to road racing a year or so before I did. Should be fun to be on track with him again like back in 2019 with the ATC.”
Bracks: So are you learning a trade or anything?
Roulstone: “I am still doing school. I do school every day. I have a tutor. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing . I do distance education. It’s a little bit like home schooling but all the work is already set out for us. I do that every morning until about 1 o’ clock then I’ll do all my exercises, go to my trainer, gym or we go riding or something along this lines. It’s all pretty serious. I will definitely do some studies in engineering or something like that.I do enjoy that. If I don’t make it I can’t do nothing. I have to have something to fall back on.”
Bracks: Where are you based over there?
Roulstone: “We live north of Barcelona near Gerona on the Costa Brava. We live at one of the old team bosses houses. We still have a great relationship with all of them which is good. Even though I have left their team we are still a part of the family. They help me with everything; my training and help me with riding. It’s difficult sometimes over there, but we have good relationships with people which makes a big difference.”
Bracks: So are you pretty fluent with Spanish now?
Roulstone: “I can understand what they are talking about, but i find it very difficult to speak. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be able to speak it fluently. That’s my goal for the year, besides riding.”
Bracks: Spanish or Catalan as you live in Catalunya?
Roulstone: “I haven’t had my sights on learning Catalan whatsoever. It’s too difficult. (with a laugh).”
Bracks: Yeah I know exactly what you mean. It sounds like you’ve got your heart set on being in Spain for the next few years then?
Roulstone: “Absolutely. It’s the place to be.
“This year is a learning year like 2021 was; learning a new team and a new bike. They are a high profile team, so there will be expectations, so I’ll be going out and trying to win each time but its going to be extremely… a lot more difficult than it was. I’m not having huge expectations but every time I go out, I’ll try and win. That’s just me.
“In the RBRC I believe I can go quite good. My goal is to get two years in each championship to do this year, then next year.In just about every session I want to be top ten and my goal is to finish with a podium or two. It’s going to be difficult. But I have the right team, I have the right people around me who I believe can get me there.
“I wanted to bring my crew chief and mechanics but they couldn’tdo it for one reason or another. I have new everything: Two new mechanics and two new data engineers but it’ll be good as with rookies and Moto3 I have the same mechanics so I’ll be able to get a good relationship with them.
“I will have to learn with my new data engineer. They are good people. It’s all learning and taking in the experience.”
Bracks: Do you get on with other riders?
Roulstone: “We have a good little group of internationals; a Canadian and American. It’s the group we train with during the week. I try to have a good relationship with all the riders. Some struggle with that but I’ve been able to set up good relationships with the Spanish and some, I am great friends with.”
Bracks: So when does this year’s adventure start?
Roulstone: “We are leaving on February 7. We have an Aspar training week the day after we arrive so we head straight down to Valencia.”
Bracks: All the best, with the next chapter, mate.
Roulstone: “Thanks, Bracksy. I’ll be giving it a good crack!”
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