Cape Town – Teenager Jared Schultz has suddenly been thrust into the pressure cooker that is international one-make motorcycle racing, in only his third season of competition.
Nevertheless, this Big Bay kite-surfer and Grade 11 pupil is taking it all in his stride - although he ruefully admits that racing in Europe for the first time was a huge step up in intensity.
Schultz, who turned 16 in March, has been competing this year in the South African KTM RC390 one-make series, and was invited by KTM SA and KTM’s marketing co-ordinator for the Netherlands, former racer Joey Litjens, to compete in the final four rounds of the international KTM RC390 Cup at Assen, in the Netherlands, Red Bull Ring in Austria, Donington Park in England, and the world final of the series at Assen in October, as a wild card.
Litjens also arranged an entry for a round of the Battle of the Lowlands at Zolder in Belgium, prior to his first outing at Assen, which turned out to be a steeper learning curve than expected, as it rained most of the weekend.
It rained again at Assen, so much so that Schultz elected to sit out the second of the only two practice sessions they got during a busy Grand Prix weekend. He’d qualified 18th of 30 entries in the first session in the dry and knew he was unlikely to improve on that.
The race started wet but when the rain stopped a dry line developed, which Schultz said was very difficult to see, making grip levels unpredictable at best. Nevertheless, he made up three places to finish 15th, earning high praise from Litjens.
In your head
Schultz will return to Europe for the next round of the international series at the Red Bull Ring on 14 August, followed by the final round of the British KTM RC390 series on 18 September.
Schultz will be the only South African rider competing in the KTM RC390 world cup final at Assen on 2 October. He is also the only rider from the Western Cape to be invited to ride in the selection event for the 2017 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup - the final step before Grands Prix - from 17-20 October at the Guadix circuit in Southern Spain.
But in between he will also be competing in the South African KTM RC 390 series and the Mike Hopkins Regional championship on the ASAP World ZX-6R.
Schultz began racing, together with his father and older brother, in 2014, riding a Honda CBR150 on the short circuit. He graduated to the main circuit in 2015, riding a Honda VFR400 not much younger than himself – which he described as slow and heavy but which taught him a lot about cornering speeds – before moving up to the Superbike classes in 2016 on the 600cc Kawasaki.
Motorcycle racing, he says is 90 percent in your head, although physical fitness is key. Schultz cycles with his family, does upper body training in the gym and rides motocross. He plans to make a career of motorcycle racing, while also studying mechanical engineering at Stellenbosch University.
He also made the point that without his sponsors he would never have been able to push his racing career as far as he has, especially national sales merchandiser ASAP World, insurance claim specialists Cape Insurance Replacements and P&G Digital, regional merchandiser Coast and Country, bike rental company Cape Bike Travel and, last but definitely not least, tuner Francois Breedt at Race Base Motorcycles.