Jake Leahey, is the newest member to 1/4LEY Racing On Track Development. From Hammonton, NJ, Jake has worked with Scott Stump and Shane Narbone resulting in 10 NJ Mini GP championships in 2016 and a successful transition to full size bikes. This will be his rookie season in the KTM RC Cup 390 series, but Jake already has a command of how to get the bike to travel tracks he's never even been to; at speeds that land him up front. Without ever being at VIR he placed 4th directly behind his teammates Draik Beauchamp, Jackson Blackmon, and Benjamin Smith during the KTM RC 390 Cup Race 1 on Saturday rounding out the top 4 sweep for 1/4LEY Racing OTD. Dale Quarterley has been over heard in the paddock saying "he's either unbelievable or completely brain dead. He's been able to do things in two weeks that season veterans haven't been able to accomplish." Jake Leahey reflects in his own words about this past weekend:
I know I have achieved more than most, however I am still not satisfied. I guess that is what keeps me pushing each and every race. Due to my 9th place standing at Road Atlanta, I arrived at VIR already feeling defeated but hungry to prove myself. I had made huge strides since my opening race, but who doesn’t want to achieve victory?
As I was suiting up for the first practice of round 2, the dark rain clouds lurked over the track, presenting yet another vice for me to the checkered flag. With rain tires on board the first 30 minute session was under way. As I adjusted to the slick conditions I arrived at P7 continuing my improvement pace from Road Atlanta.
I was eager to start qualifying 1, with the rain still being a huge factor, I set out in the wet and cold conditions. As I rounded the track for the last time, I caught a glimpse of my pit board displaying P6. I felt as if I had accomplished my task for the day, exiting the track moving myself ahead by one solid position. I was anxious to dry off and start again fresh for Saturday.
Upon arrival Saturday, I was feeling relaxed and refreshed, determined to increase my position yet again with what now presented, as ideal dry track conditions. During qualifying 2, I was pitted in by my crew to perform some minor suspension changes. This operation would enable me to have better corner speed. With only 8 minutes left to spare, I rolled out of hot pit for the final lap of qualifying. I laid down l, what I later came to find out was my fastest lap yet! I was greeted by my crew to learn that I had secured P3 for my starting grid position.
I knew starting out in front would be a huge advantage, despite my efforts I was quickly swallowed up in turn 1, dropping me down to 6th place. I was able to battle back up to 4th in time to grab the checkered flag. I knew that I had a huge battle ahead of me in tomorrow’s race. I needed to study the track, strategically calculate each corner and more importantly keep the bike underneath me in the upright position.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, my team and I reviewed all the timing information and track maps. I had a mental picture of what I needed to do to get out in front of the veteran riders. As the green flag was raised, I nailed my start pushing myself too deep into turn 1, running wider than necessary. This caused me to fall back into 10th place. It was then that I knew I had to use all riders’ errors to my advantage and calculate each mistake they would make. Turn 3 presented me just that opportunity! Even though extremely risky, I was able to pass the next seven riders ahead of me on the outside. As I glanced over at the pit board I was able to grasp P2. I knew it was going to take focus to maintain this position. I put my head down and approached turn 7. This turn of the 7th lap had different plans. I lost the rear upon exiting this corner nearly high siding. Unable to keep the bike upright I slid out. After several attempts to restart the engine, the checked flag diminished from my sight. As transport came out to pick up my bike I was thankful that I escaped uninjured!
In conclusion, I cannot thank my family, friends, race team and sponsors enough for affording me this opportunity. I leave VIR with this, “when defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” I will continue to rebuild those plans, one track at a time, each time I dress in my leathers. I will not give up until I achieve victory!
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