Eazi Grip

Crashes for Eazi-Grip supported Jake Gagne and Mathew Scholtz, but Mathew second on day one and Jake wins on day 2 at MotoAmerica Road Atlanta

Race Day One

Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne looked to be having the same sort of race that he had 17 times last year in the first of two MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday. He’d started from pole position after breaking the track record in qualifying, he led into turn one, and he looked to be settling into the sort of pace no one else was going to match. Everything was going to plan. Right up until the point that it wasn’t. Gagne crashed his Yamaha YZF-R1 out of the lead on the sixth lap in turn five, handing a third-successive victory to Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci.

Petrucci, though, didn’t have it easy as Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz piled race-long pressure on the Italian former MotoGP winner. Once he passed South African countryman Cameron Petersen, Scholtz was able to put a dent in Petrucci’s lead and even whittled it down to within a second. But he couldn’t quite get close enough to strike and championship points leader Petrucci was able to close it out with another near flawless performance.

Petersen, meanwhile, added to the Yamaha team’s Saturday misery in Georgia when he crashed out of third place just two laps after Gagne’s miscue.

Scholtz knows Petrucci has a bit of an edge at this point and he’s hoping a few tweaks to his Yamaha YZF-R1 overnight will get him closer to the front on Sunday. Still, he’s off to a good start to the season with three second-place finishes.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis made a return to the Superbike podium after a four-year hiatus, the non-defending MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Champion keeping his nose clean and holding Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera at bay by 1.2 seconds. Road Atlanta was also the site of Lewis’ first career MotoAmerica Superbike podium when he finished third in 2015 on a Yoshimura Suzuki.

With Barbera fourth, fifth went to Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante with the former Supersport Champion fighting back after an off-track excursion on the opening lap.

Kyle Wyman found out on Friday that he would be replacing PJ Jacobsen on the second Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW when Jacobsen was forced out of the weekend after testing positive for COVID-19. Wyman made the most of the opportunity and finished sixth, barely besting pseudo-teammate Corey Alexander on another Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing BMW.

Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim was eighth with Aftercare Hayes Scheibe Racing BMW’s Ashton Yates and Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Travis Wyman rounding out the top 10.

With his third-straight victory, Petrucci now leads Scholtz by 15 points going into Sunday’s race two. Lewis is third in the title chase with 36 points, three better than Barbera’s 33. Escalante rounds out the top five with 31 points. Gagne, the defending series champion, is now 59 points in arrears of Petrucci after three races.

The top four in the first of two Medallia Superbike races at Road Atlanta were mounted on four different makes of motorcycle: Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki, and BMW.

Danilo Petrucci – First Place

“I studied a bit of video on YouTube on the onboard video. I watched some races. But I thought it was easier. The track is really not for boys but for men, because it’s a really different compared to our European standards. There are plenty of bumps and even high curbs. The walls are so close here, but the track is so good. The first corners for me is really, really difficult to approach. I lost a lot of time. Let’s say I’m struggling a lot with the traction. I don’t go out of the corners with so much speed. I need to gain everything on braking, but today the heat was really, really high. I was struggling. Then I thought it was easier, but a lapped rider was stuck in the middle. Mathew (Scholtz) gained a lot of time there. Then I pushed as hell for finish the race. Was very, very difficult. We need to do something with the lapped riders because we respect them. They need to respect us because we are racing, and we are fighting for the top position. I don’t think it’s fair to do like this, stuck in the middle. But it’s racing. Tomorrow will be tough. I tried to stay with Jake (Gagne) as much as possible, but I was a little bit faster on some braking areas. He was definitely faster in the first sector. But I tried to stay there and tried to hold him but unfortunately, he crashed out. We need to fix a bit the bike. We have some solution for tomorrow. I hope it works.”

Mathew Scholtz – Second

“Once I got past Cam (Petersen), they had about a second or two-second gap. I just tried to push harder to try to catch up. I was over-charging corners, pushing the front everywhere. Our morning practice it was probably about 68 degrees Fahrenheit and we’re racing in like 85 something now. So, the setup just kind of seemed a little bit off. The front end was pushing everywhere. I didn’t see how Cam crashed, but exactly where (Jake) Gagne crashed, I had a lot of front-end moments there too. I think it was just with the heat and the softer-compound front tire, it just wasn’t working well. I could kind of see that I was catching Danilo (Petrucci) slightly, but then I would run wide in one or two corners. He might have done something wrong, and I’d catch him. I don’t think I would have caught him before the end. Maybe with four laps to go, one of the back markers kind of held him up going into corner five, which I kind of thought, ‘Maybe I can do something here.’ But then, unfortunately, going into corner six, I had a massive front-end moment and I kind of ran out wide there. So, just had to settle for second place. I feel like the mid-race pace is pretty good. Just need to maybe sort out the first couple laps and see if we can be a little bit closer to the front guys there so I don’t have to work so hard and maybe over-push trying to catch up. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy to be up here in second place. Our pace was a hell of a lot better than it was last year here. We seem to be making steps forward. Closed the gap a little bit. Kind of sucks being second place for the third race straight, so hopefully tomorrow try to go one better. But Danilo is riding awesome. The bike definitely seems to have legs on us. So, we might have to look at trying to get out of the corners better. Just looking forward to going back to the pits now and working on setup and just trying to figure out how to come off corner seven and the final corner better so we’re not losing so many bike lengths. Well-done to these two guys. It was a long 19 laps out there. Hopefully, tomorrow goes a little bit better for us.”

Jake Lewis – Third

“It’s nice to be up on the box instead of in the gravel. It’s better for the team and better for the points. Like you said, it’s definitely frustrating. It sucks getting smoked that bad. Even the first few laps, I didn’t get the best of starts and was back in seventh. It was poor qualifying and then a poor start. I didn’t really even get a chance to try to go with those guys, which I was planning to do. I was in fifth there for a while until Jake (Gagne) crashed, and then a few laps later I saw Cam (Petersen) down. I knew I was in that third position and Hector (Barbera) was behind me the whole race. I just kept seeing plus zero, plus zero. I kept plugging away. Obviously, my pace needed to be a little bit faster and definitely still need to find some time to get to these guys. I was trying to ride with them this morning, follow Danilo (Petrucci) and follow Mathew (Scholtz) and just pick up on a few things where they were better at and where I need to improve. I feel more comfortable and confident than I did at COTA. Just keep plugging away and try to get closer to these guys.”

Superbike Race 1

1. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
2. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
3. Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
4. Hector Barbera (BMW)
5. Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
6. Kyle Wyman (BMW)
7. Corey Alexander (BMW)
8. Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
9. Ashton Yates (Honda)
10. Travis Wyman (BMW)

Race Day Two

Going into the 2022 MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship, not many would have placed money on Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne not winning until the fourth race of the season. But that’s how it played out with the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion finally notching his first victory of the 2022 season on Sunday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Thus far in 2020, Gagne’s record looks like this: DNF (mechanical), third, DNF (crash), victory. Gagne’s start to his title defense was dismal: Saturday’s crash, combined with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC rider Danilo Petrucci’s third-straight win, left Gagne 59 points behind the Italian.

But Gagne is Gagne and the ever-eternal positivity never wavered. Today he came out and did what he needed to do. He dominated from start to finish, despite two red flags (one for Jeremy Coffey’s crash on the opening lap and again when the TV truck lost power, forcing the race to be stopped) and ended up winning by 14.028 seconds over his teammate Cameron Petersen, the South African also bouncing back from a Saturday crash to bring smiles back to the Yamaha camp.

To make things even better for Gagne, the two riders at the top of the point standings both failed to finish. Petrucci’s Ducati Panigale V4 R blew up on the opening lap of the second restart and Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz crashed, remounted, pitted, and finally gave up on the 11th lap.

So, with his first win of the year and the 18th of his MotoAmerica Superbike career, Gagne now finds himself 34 points behind Petrucci and 26 behind Scholtz with the VIRginia International Raceway round a month away.

Third place today went to Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Kyle Wyman, who was riding the team’s BMW M 1000 RR as a replacement rider for PJ Jacobsen. Jacobsen failed a COVID-19 test on Thursday and Wyman, who was at Road Atlanta to ride his factory Harley-Davidson in the Mission King Of The Baggers race, was called on to replace his fellow New Yorker. He said yes and a few days later he had given the team its first-ever MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike podium.

Wyman’s teammate for the weekend Hector Barbera was fourth and Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante fifth with those three fighting it out for the final podium spot for the duration of the race.

Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander came out on top of a battle with Aftercare Hayes Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates, and the two were separated by half a second at the finish. Alexander’s teammate Travis Wyman ended up eighth with ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony ninth and Vision Wheel/Discount Tire/KWS’s Geoff May rounding out the top 10 finishers.

After two rounds and four races, Petrucci leads Scholtz by 15 points, 75-60. Petersen is third with 49 points, three better than Barbera’s 46. Escalante is fifth with 42 points, and Gagne is a point behind him and 34 points behind Petrucci.

Jake Gagne – Winner

(When asked if panic was setting in) “No. Quite the opposite. Especially after yesterday, we got a good start. I felt really good and really smooth running that pace, but just a little mistake, a surprising mistake. I was down before I even knew it. So, we went back. Like Cam (Petersen) said, the goal was we need to bring this bike home, no matter what. But at the same time, I knew even that pace we were at yesterday was comfortable for me. I just had to avoid a little brain fart like that. But I got off to really great starts today, really, really good. That was good. Felt kind of like last year. To me, I’m comfortable. Like Cam said, I feel good right out of the gate, so I want to try to push the pace right away and at least thin the herd if possible, and whoever wants to come with, come with. I knew there was drama. We even saw the Ducati, (Danilo) Petrucci smoking a little bit on the sighting lap. So, that was in my mind. Like, I wonder if that thing is going to finish? It’s been a rough year, man. A really rough year so far. I know we’re only four races in, but it’s been a rough year. I feel like luck kind of got on our side today. I was able to get a win, and not only just get a win but kind of get some points with those guys DNF’ing today, which was unfortunate for them. But that’s racing. We’ve still got 16 races to go in this championship. There’s a long way to go.”

Cameron Petersen – Second

“I tried in the beginning, especially in the first start before the red flag. Danilo (Petrucci) came past me. I kind of latched onto him for a lap. I felt like I could run the pace and then after the red flag came out, Jake’s (Gagne) first lap is just on another level. It’s going to take me some time to figure that out. Once Matty (Scholtz) came past me, I think he kind of saw Jake riding away from me and kind of got a little bit desperate. He had some pace for sure. I was pretty late on the brakes into 10. He lunged up my inside and, unfortunately, I knew he was carrying so much speed going in there. I knew he was either going to run off or something was going to happen. We were both hot into there. So, once Matty crashed trying to pass me, I honestly just backed it off so much. I kind of got the gap up to about 10 or 11 seconds and I just started cruising around doing mid-25s, 26s the whole race. I knew it was super important to bring these bikes home for the team after the weekend we’ve had. It’s been a rough couple weekends. COTA wasn’t the greatest either. Honestly, at the end of the day, I’m not too happy with the way I rode, but I’ll take it. It’s a second. The team finished one and two. It’s not fun riding around all timid and scared the whole time. It was just one of those things. We’re going to go back to work, and I think Virginia is going to be a different story. Once I build up that confidence again, I think I’ll be good.

Congrats to these two guys next to me. Honestly, it’s awesome seeing Kyle (Wyman) up here. That’s pretty badass for him to come here and beat his teammate, Hector, and get the first podium for the team. And to my boy JG (Gagne), this is where he belongs. Like I said, it’s been a tough few rounds, so to see him back up on the box in P1 is pretty cool, and to be there right next to him is even better. Massive shout-out to the whole Fresh N Lean, Progressive, Attack Yamaha team. I can’t thank them enough for all the work they’ve done. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Kyle Wyman – Third

(When asked if he was surprised to finish third) “That’s an understatement. 14th on the grid. Got a wicked start. The launch control on the BMW is amazing. I think I passed two rows every time we started. We had two starts today. It’s been kind of a whirlwind. I had to work for that one. We definitely had some attrition in that race. That obviously plays into this podium result, but I definitely had to work for it, too. My teammate Hector (Barbera) and Richie (Escalante), were right there. I had to bridge a gap to those guys the first half of the race. They were a couple seconds up the road. I kind of sat there for a couple laps. Felt like I had pace to lead it. I don’t remember where I passed the guys, honestly. But I picked them off one lap and then the next lap. Pretty much held a .3 to .5 (second) gap the rest of the race. The bike was working way better today than yesterday. Scotty (Jensen) made some great changes for me. Peter, the electronics guy, is amazing. The bike is really good; it’s really fast. Feels great to get the team’s first podium. It’s a young team and this is a real boost for them.”

Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2022 in News

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