Jake Johnson riding different bikes to strong AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship season
NEWS July 30, 2014
PHOTO BY DAVE HOENIG
SACRAMENTO, Calif., (July 31, 2014) – Jake Johnson’s No. 5 Rampur Winery bike sat behind the podium following the Sacramento Mile, Round 8 on the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship schedule, while the Pennsylvania rider accepted his runner-up trophy at the Cal Expo on July 26.
A fan walked by the white, yellow and red machine and asked, “What is it?”
For the first time this year, the answer was, “A Kawasaki.”
For Johnson, the debut of the Kawasaki marked the fourth different bike he’s raced in 2014. In addition to a Honda for the short track in Daytona, he’s also run a Ducati and Harley-Davidson in AMA Pro Flat Track events, and the strategy has paid off as he sits third in points.
The decision to roll out on a fourth manufacturer wasn’t made until the day of the Sacramento Mile.
“It was actually a good time to try it,” Johnson said. “We’ve had it for a few races now and really wanted to test it and ride it a little bit before we actually went out and raced it. Before we showed up here, I had about six laps on that bike. After practice, we decided to go with it and stuck with it and I’m glad we did. It ended up working out, and now we know we’ve got a third weapon in our arsenal, and that’s good. Depending on the racetrack, we’ve got the Harley, Kawi, Ducati, it’s just whether we pick the right one on the right day.”
Johnson is still searching for his first victory of the season, but he’s been close, recording three second place finishes. He was second at the Knoxville Half-Mile on June 15 and second in Race 2 at Daytona on his Honda on March 14. He rode the Ducati to fourth in the Springfield Mile May 25.
Each bike has different strengths and weaknesses, and riding each one is a different experience, not just in terms of power and handling, but setup. The plethora of options gives each weekend a welcome learning curve for Johnson.
“I guess it can get a little confusing, you jump off of one one week and jump off the other the next week,” Johnson said. “The Harley shifts on the right hand side, the Kawi and the Ducati shift on the left hand side, so I tend to find myself kicking for the shifter on the wrong side sometimes, but once I figure out where everything is, I’m good. I’ve ridden enough bikes over the years that once I get comfortable I can adapt pretty well.”
Johnson has ridden plenty of bikes. An AMA Pro Racing regular since 2001, Johnson is a two-time GNC champion, claiming the No. 1 plate in 2010 and 2011.