As he has done all season long, Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne led the opening day of qualifying for this weekend’s MotoAmerica round at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the Californian besting the rest of the HONOS Superbike field in Q1 on Friday.
Gagne lapped the 2.25-mile NJMP in 1:20.910 to top M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen by .422 of a second on a sunny afternoon in Millville to earn provisional pole position for this weekend’s three HONOS Superbike races.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz completed the provisional front row with his 1:21.373, just .041 of a second slower than fellow South African Petersen.
Fourth fastest on the day was Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz, the Frenchman ending up .612 of a second off Gagne’s best. Baz also suffered a crash at the end of the session but escaped uninjured.
Gagne’s two Yamaha teammates for the weekend, Toni Elias and Josh Herrin, finished the day fifth and sixth as the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha team is fielding three bikes this weekend. Elias was .208 of a second quicker than Herrin on the opening day.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera ended up seventh in his first trip to NJMP, besting M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong and One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman. FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward rounded out the top 10.
An M4 ECSTAR Suzuki was on top of the Supersport field on Friday at NJMP, but it wasn’t ridden by champion-elect Sean Dylan Kelly. In this case, it was the GSX-R600 of his teammate Sam Lochoff who ended up on provisional pole after Q1.
Second fastest was also somewhat of a surprise with Landers Racing’s Rocco Landers just .082 of a second behind Lochoff. Only then did championship rivals Richie Escalante and Kelly show up on the timesheets, the pair ending the day third and fourth, respectively.
SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup Championship points leader Tyler Scott led Friday’s Q1 session with his 1:30.432 on the Scott Powersports KTM, besting Rodio Racing’s Gus Rodio’s 131.214. Bauce Racing/Cyber Solutions/JL62 Racing’s Joseph LiMandri Jr. ended up third with Scott’s championship rival Benjamin Gloddy fourth on the Landers Racing Kawasaki.
Corey Alexander hasn’t given up on winning the MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Championship and he showed up at NJMP on a mission and that led to him leading Q1 on Friday. HONOS HVMC Racing’s Alexander headed the timesheets with his 1:22.610 to lead MESA37’s Stefano Mesa and Disrupt Racing’s Mark Heckles. More importantly for Alexander was the fact that championship points leader Jake Lewis could only muster the fourth fastest time on his Altus Motorsports Suzuki.
Cory Ventura made his MotoAmerica Twins Cup debut on Friday at NJMP and promptly put his Veloce Racing Aprilia RS 650 on provisional pole, despite tipping over early in the Q1 session. Ventura lapped at 1:26.115 to lead Robem Engineering’s Tommaso Marcon, the Italian making his U.S. racing debut. Marcon’s teammate and championship points leader Kaleb De Keyrel ended up third on the day.
Superbike Race One
If Jake Gagne manages to get out of bed tomorrow and make it to the grid for the first of two HONOS Superbike races at New Jersey Motorsports Park, he will be crowned as the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion. Nuff said.
In HONOS Superbike race one on Saturday afternoon, Gagne and his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha again made a mockery of the rest of the field as he led all 20 laps in winning his 14th straight race by 7.6 seconds. After 15 races, Gagne leads the championship point standings by a whopping 98 points. If he scores two points in race one on Sunday, he will start race two as the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion – his second MotoAmerica title to go with his 2015 Superstock 1000 title.
Only a brave man would bet against Gagne winning his 15th and 16th straight races tomorrow and the Californian doesn’t seem to be willing to let someone else win.
“I wish I could,” Gagne said. “I just have to do my job. This bike is this good. I’ve got to ride it as hard as I can every lap. We made some good improvements throughout the weekend, throughout yesterday and this morning, and so got a little bit more comfortable. We were happy with our race pace. We knew kind of what we could do. It was a little slicker even than I thought this afternoon. I’m sure with the heat it got into the track, got into the tires. It was a little slicker than I thought, for sure. But I’m happy. I got off to a good start. I saw Mat (Scholtz) coming around the outside of me in one right there. I know these guys are going to try to stick it up in there, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’ve got two long races, so I’m sure it will be a battle. We’ll just keep clicking away at it. I’ve got nothing to do but ride the thing as hard as I can every lap, and whatever happens, happens.”
Second place on Saturday went to Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African taking the runner-up spot for the fifth time on the season as he solidifies his stranglehold on second in the championship.
“Second place, I kind of have to be happy,” Scholtz said. “Obviously, we would like to win, but Jake (Gagne) is on form now. It’s kind of nice to be the next-best guy after the Attack Yamaha. At this point it’s pretty clear to see that they have the best package. So, it’s always good to be up there. I think Jake beat us by seven or eight seconds, which is a little bit far, so I’m just going to go back to the briefing room now and just try to figure out what we can do better. The first five or six laps I felt good. We did a 21.2, 21.3 and I felt comfortable. Then I got to lap five or six and I was just pushing the front and sliding out of almost every single right-hand corner, so got to try to figure out something how we can kind of hook up better. Obviously, if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to pass Jake early on because once he kind of settles into his own groove and he’s gone, he definitely has a better pace than everyone else. So, hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to get a decent jump and try to do something out of the first couple corners. For now, just got to be happy with this second place. I had a decent battle with Toni (Elias). It’s always good to see him back up here. Happy with the Yamaha sweep of the podium. Just a big shoutout to the Westby team. We’ve been working hard. We completely changed the motorcycle about four or five rounds back, and I feel like we’ve been making steady progress forward. So, I’ve just got to keep on working at it and just chip away a couple tenths, and we should be right there.”
Toni Elias had his third outing on the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha and he put it on the podium for the second time, the Spaniard ending up third, some four seconds adrift of Scholtz and just .132 of a second ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong.
“This is the best bike and the best team,” Elias said. “We were a little bit limited at Pittsburgh. Maybe the track was a little bit better for me. This one is more difficult. They bring me something for the front that means I felt instantly much comfortable on the brakes. Let’s say, I come back to my riding style, to hard brakes and on braking areas. But I’m still missing rear contact, rear grip on entry, on exit. We are working so hard. We did small improvements, but I need something big. We are getting closer, because the possibilities of things were two things and we have no time, but every time we’re getting closer and closer, more close to the solution. That’s the goal. Today I had a really good start. I tried to follow him (Gagne) for six, seven laps. At the end, I couldn’t. Then Mathew (Scholtz) was having better pace than me. I decided to let him go and just he helped me to continue, and at the end I couldn’t either. I just was trying to not lose the rear too much. Also, Bobby (Fong) was faster than me, but I just closed the doors and pushed the last few laps and the last three corners and saved the podium. Thanks to the team, Attack Yamaha, to continue giving me opportunities. Tomorrow we have to work. I will keep pushing, working and let’s see what we can do.”
Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz finished fifth and some 10 seconds behind Fong after topping the third Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha ridden by the returning Josh Herrin by just .051 of a second.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen was seventh, well clear of One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman who was less than a second ahead of Superbike Cup winner Jake Lewis and his Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000. FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward rounded out the top 10.
Superbike Race One
Superbike Races 2 and 3
Jake Gagne wrapped up the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship on a record-setting, two-race Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the Californian winning his 16th race of the season to match the record held jointly by Josh Hayes and Cameron Beaubier for Superbike wins in a single season while also tying three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey’s mark for career victories.
Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Gagne won both HONOS Superbike races at NJMP on Sunday after winning the lone race on Saturday in MotoAmerica’s Superbike tripleheader. The two wins were his 15th and 16th on the season (those are also his career win marks in the class) and the first victory on Sunday morning is the one that earned him the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike crown.
“Even on the bad years, I’m racing motorcycles,” Gagne said of the many seasons of racing that eventually led to the Superbike title. “It’s what I love to do. It’s fun. It’s sure a lot more fun when we’ve got a winning motorcycle, a winning team, and we can manage to get some wins. It’s been an incredible year. I wouldn’t have thought going in that we would be 15 wins deep. It’s pretty surreal. Again, hats off to this team because the guys are working so hard, and the bike has been super, super dialed in. We keep trying to go faster. These guys are always chasing us down and we’ve got no choice but to keep trying to go. But it’s amazing. We got another race today, so it hasn’t quite set in yet. We’ve got some work to do this afternoon because I know it’s not going to be easy, so we’ll roll on to race two.”
As he has done all year long, Gagne dominated and again led every single lap of both races en route to the two wins. Gagne has now led 273 consecutive laps in the 2021 season.
The two Superbike podiums on Sunday were identical with Gagne leading Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Josh Herrin in both.
For Scholtz it was a solid day as he managed to keep Gagne in sight in both races, finishing 9.5 seconds behind in race two and 6.5 seconds behind in race three.
“Jake (Gagne) is the class of the field now and it seems like I’m the next best guy over the last couple of rounds,” Scholtz said after race three. “Just got to keep chipping away and try to catch Jake. We know what we have to do as far as lap time. We went quicker now than we did in the first race earlier on. So, we’re always getting faster, but we just need to find something more, really.”
Herrin, meanwhile, was in his comeback weekend after suffering from COVID-19 that forced him out of two rounds of the series. If Herrin’s life wasn’t hectic enough in the past few months, his wife, Rachel, also gave birth to the couple’s first child this week. He put in a tough day’s work on Sunday, however, and came out on top of two hard-fought battles with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz.
“First off, just congrats to the whole team,” Herrin said after race two. “Congrats to Jake (Gagne). It’s been a difficult year without (me) doing good, but then seeing your teammate doing good it’s hard, but at the end of the year when he wraps it up, it feels good. It’s something that you’ve got to be proud of him. It’s 15 wins in a row. It doesn’t matter if you’re racing go-karts with your buddies. If you beat them 15 times in a row, that’s a lot. Fifteen wins in a row is something special, something that nobody has ever done before and it’s really cool to see, actually. So, congrats to him. Congrats to the whole team. They’ve been working hard all year.
“Having the baby, like I said on the podium, it just changed my whole outlook on everything. It has been something so special, something that so many people have been talking to me about and trying to describe the feeling, but it’s not like any other feeling that I’ve ever had. I was there for the whole thing, cutting the umbilical cord and all that stuff. It’s been good for me for racing I think, because just in the four days that he’s been alive, it made me realize there’s so much more to life than racing. Racing has always been the only thing I cared about. It was good for me, because now I can come and have fun racing. For some reason, it seems more fun than before. I still haven’t got a win this year, and I really want that. that would make it a lot more fun. But it’s become different than it ever has been. I’m happy. I’ll be glad to see him, but I want to try and get a better result for him. Just stoked that he’s here for these last few rounds of the year. Can’t wait to get him to the track this year. It’s been special. It’s been fun. I’m glad to be up here. I’ve been down all year, and it’s been bringing the team down, so I’m happy to get up on the podium for them.”
With Baz finishing fourth in both races, it was M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen who finished fifth in both. Sixth place was different, however, with Scheibe Racing’s Hector Barbera earning the spot in race two and Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Toni Elias besting the Spaniard for the spot in race three.
One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman ended the day with seventh- and eighth-place finishes with Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis finishing eighth in race two.
Ninth place in race two went to Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong finishing ninth in race three. Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert was 10th in race two with Tecfil Racing Team’s Danilo Lewis 10th in race three.
As for tying MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey with his 16th career AMA Superbike victory, Gagne said, “I actually talked to him. I saw him in the bathroom right before this race two and he mentioned he had 16. He wishes me the best. Hopes that I can match that today. It’s been an amazing weekend, really. Getting the championship, that’s a dream come true. It didn’t quite set in because we had to focus on this race too, but it’s amazing. I still can’t really believe that we got 16 wins in a row. It’s pretty unbelievable. But all I do is go out there and ride as hard as I can every lap and every race. This bike is the bike to beat. Hats off to these Yamahas. It’s great. We got a Yamaha sweep here in New Jersey. These things were rolling really good. So, hats off to Attack Yamaha and all the boys and Mat (Scholtz) and Josh (Herrin) and Toni (Elias), everybody. We only have a couple days to go before we’re back on track, so we’re going to be just focusing on that all week and then maybe after that we’ll relax a little bit. But I know these boys, like we said, Mat’s going to be strong at Barber. Josh is going to be really strong at Barber. These guys go really well there. So, I’ve got to stay on my toes. They’re going to want to win real bad. The championship is kind of done, so it’s go time.”
Superbike Race 2
Superbike Race 3