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Meet Jacob Roulstone, Australia's next Moto3™ hopeful

Wednesday, 11 October 2023

This time next year, Wollongong teenager Jacob Roulstone will be getting ready for his first Australian Grand Prix. For now, he'll happily get up early to watch it … just the once.

For Jacob Roulstone, the 2023 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will be a good time, but the last time. When the world's best young talents take to one of the best circuits on the world championship calendar to ply their trade in Moto3™, the young Aussie will be watching from the couch in the early hours of the morning from his base near Barcelona.

Fast-forward 12 months, and Roulstone will be there on track at his home GP for the first time as one of those best young two-wheel talents. It's a place where he's proved he belongs.


In late September, the 18-year-old from Wollongong was named as a Moto3™ rider for next season, taking his fledgling world championship steps to rule a line under a four-year journey that began when he and mum Leah arrived in Europe in 2020 – only for a global pandemic to send things sideways.

Spending 105 days sequestered in a Spanish hotel immediately after he arrived wasn't the most auspicious of starts, but Roulstone's payoff has finally arrived.

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Roulstone isn't 'just' on the Moto3™ grid for 2024, either; he's riding for paddock icon Herve Poncharal's Red Bull-backed KTM Tech3 outfit, and will have this year's championship contender Dani Holgado as his teammate. There'll be little time to settle in, but Roulstone says he encourages and thrives on pressure. It's a step up he's itching to take.

"It just feels really good, to be honest," he says.

"We've been working non-stop since we came to Europe, and this was the goal. So to finally get this chance, I'm super-stoked. Riding for someone like Herve Poncharal as well, it's a huge opportunity. He's got a lot of experience in Grand Prix racing and someone who'll be good to have as a boss, and to have Dani as a teammate as well to push me, it's a great way to start."

A steep Spanish learning curve

Roulstone's rise to Grand Prix racing – after that locked-down Spanish start – has been one of gradual improvement and getting comfortable with constant adaptation. Racing in the FIM CEV European Talent Cup in 2020, he finished 17th overall with a best result of seventh; the following year, he was ninth with a victory and three podiums.

Moving to the FIM JuniorGP World Championship in 2022, Roulstone had a best result of 11th and finished 25th overall as a debutant; this year, he sits sixth overall with a pair of podiums with one round remaining. And then there was the cut-throat Red Bull Rookies Cup this year, held on the undercard of the European MotoGP™ rounds and the launch pad of Johann Zarco, Brad Binder, Joan Mir and Jorge Martin, to name but a few; Roulstone finished fifth overall and snared podiums at Jerez and Assen with the sport's heavyweights watching closely.

"Being in the GP paddock and the pressure that brings to perform, I really enjoyed that part of it," he says, before explaining perhaps his greatest challenge.

"It's an intense championship, and it's difficult as well because it's not as easy to set up a bike with me being as tall as I am. I'm 180-something centimetres, but only 58kg … it's good that I'm light and I've never been someone who eats a lot anyway, but it's still hard!"

Roulstone says he's advanced "so much" from being in Spain for the past few years. A lot of that has come away from the glare of the spotlight, with lessons learned through training fast-tracking his progress.

"When you train over here, it's quite intense," he explains.

"There's always fast people to train with, and I'm someone who likes to train with a couple of fast guys so we can battle and dice. I used to train with (current Moto3™ rider) Xavier Artigas, I still do a little bit, and he was super aggressive. Someone like that on the small karting tracks to battle with …. when you're hitting into each other, that gives you a lot of confidence for the big tracks. You learn how to do good block passes and work on your race craft. That really helps you get that confidence in yourself."

Roulstone's road ahead

Ask Roulstone which world championship tracks he's most keen to tackle next year as MotoGP™ embarks on its longest-ever calendar – 22 stops around the globe from Qatar in March to Valencia in November – and he struggles to offer only a few.

"I love riding, so I can't wait to be riding just about every weekend – that's what it will feel like," he eventually says.

"Le Mans was awesome with (Red Bull) Rookies – if you want to go to Europe and be in a packed environment, you've got to go to Le Mans. I like when it's full of fans and you get a good vibe … it's a pretty crazy atmosphere.

"Some of the tracks I did in Rookies like Austria, Germany … but then the Asian tracks I've ridden before like Qatar, Sepang, Motegi – they're all really fun tracks and they're usually good GPs, too."

And then there's Phillip Island, where Roulstone will be on the TV next October, not watching it.

"I've never actually been to the Phillip Island GP, so I won't do that until I'm on the grid," he laughs.

"Being there when it's your home GP, the home fans … I reckon that takes you somewhere different. It'll be more pressure but I enjoy that, just being in that environment with all my family and friends there. Some of them haven't been able to watch me in person for quite a few years.

"I'll be awake early in Spain watching this year, but not next year … so that'll definitely be pretty cool."