MotoAmerica racer Kayla Yaakov, age 15, is set to appear on an upcoming episode of the “TODAY with Hoda & Jenna” national morning show on NBC-TV.
“They’re doing a story with me, and it’s going to air February 1, I think,” Yaakov said as she and her father, ex-racer David Yaakov, drove from the interview shoot in Florida to their home in Pennsylvania. “We talked to some MotoAmerica people. I’m not exactly sure what went on behind the scenes to get me on it and how it was arranged.
“I was set up with one of the TODAY show people in late December when I was out with Melissa [Paris] and Josh [Hayes, Paris’ husband] at Buttonwillow doing a test. We did a short interview with them. They called us back and set up a date when we could all make it out to Jennings GP and get some footage of me riding and do some interviews, things like that.”
The interview was shot Monday, January 23.
Sometimes when mainstream media members interview racers the questions can be predictable. “How fast do you go?” “Aren’t you scared?” But apparently that wasn’t the case with Yaakov.
“I thought the questions were kind of good,” said Yaakov. “It was a lot more personal and about me and my story in racing, my goals, the things I’d like to do, and how last year was challenging for me in a lot of ways. I think it was a good representation of the year.”
Yaakov had a breakout year in 2022, finishing third in the MotoAmerica Junior Cup Championship with four race wins and a podium finish in the Yamaha bLU cRU R3 Cup SuperFinale in Portugal. And she did most of it with a very injured left knee.
“I tore my ACL, my MCL, fractured my tibia and fibula, and had some muscle contusions. A lot of damage,” said Yaakov, who wore a brace on her knee, on and off the bike, throughout the second half of the 2022 season.
Yaakov said she has not had surgery yet and probably won’t have surgery to replace her ACL with a piece of her hamstring tendon until after the 2023 season.
“It hasn’t bothered me too much,” said Yaakov. “I still can’t run. That’s why I do cycling because it’s low impact. The bones have healed on their own, and the MCL can heal on its own, but the ACL is completely gone.”
Yaakov is moving up to the MotoAmerica REV’IT! Twins Cup for 2023 and will ride a Yamaha YZF-R7 for Paris’ MP13 Racing, but she isn’t feeling too much pressure from the change of class or from riding for a high-profile personality like Paris.
“It’s definitely just another season for me,” said Yaakov. “I really don’t feel like I have a lot of pressure. It’s my first year in the class, and I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure for me to go out and win every race. Obviously, that’s something I would love to do. I’d love to go out and win, but it’s a new class for me and it’s a really stacked field. It’ll be good to further improve on my racecraft and things like that. I’ll be happy to have a good learning season, see how it goes, take it step-by-step and race-by-race.
“Also, with the MP13 Racing team behind me with Melissa and Josh and the great crew that they have and their great partners, it’s a great program and I’m super excited for it. We went out to [test at] Buttonwillow, and I had a great feeling with the bike. It was really positive, and I’m super excited to get the season started at Daytona in less than 45 days.”
The 2023 MotoAmerica REV’IT! Twins Cup season starts with two races March 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida.