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Eazi Grip

Jake Gagne dominates at Laguna Seca to take over the MotoAmerica championship lead

After his wins at The Ridge in Washington, Jake Gagne of Attack Performance Yamaha did the double again this weekend at Laguna Seca to overtake Danilo Petrucci in the championship standings. Here’s what happened…

Saturday

Jake Gagne is on a roll and that should make everyone else in the MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship uncomfortable. Like shaking-in-their-boots uncomfortable.

Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Gagne won his third straight race and his sixth of the season in the GEICO Motorcycle MotoAmerica Speedfest at Monterey, the defending series champion doing what he does best: clearing off at the start, putting down quick and consistent laps and then maintaining his lead to the finish. At the end of the 20-lapper at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Gagne was 4.381 seconds ahead in winning the 23rd Superbike race of his career.

While Gagne was clear at the front, the battle for second was a thriller. On the final lap, Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen held the spot going into the Corkscrew for the last time. Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci hadn’t given up on the spot and he charged up the inside of the Yamaha, did a “soft touch” that pushed Petersen off track. Then the race was on to the bottom of the Corkscrew, ala Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, with Petersen coming back on track alongside Petrucci but with more momentum. A determined Petersen wasn’t going to lose this one and he beat Petrucci to the finish line by .280 of a second.

Petersen’s second-place finish was his seventh podium of year keeping him in fourth in series standings; and Petrucci’s ninth podium of the year sees him still atop the championship point standings, though that lead is now an anorexic two points over Gagne.

Richie Escalante had his best Superbike race of the season, the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider finishing fourth. He was 17.5 seconds behind Gagne, but over five seconds ahead of Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African battling traction problems that made his Yamaha YZF-R1 barely rideable.

Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Hector Barbera was sixth, some five seconds ahead of his teammate PJ Jacobsen. Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Kyle Wyman, who was filling in for the injured Jake Lewis, had a lonely ride to eighth with Champ School BPR Yamaha’s Bryce Prince ninth in his only MotoAmerica appearance of the season.

Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Travis Wyman rounded out the top 10 finishers.

Petrucci still leads the title chase over Gagne, 192-190, heading into tomorrow’s race two at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Scholtz is still third with 170 points, 11 clear of Petersen’s 159 points. Barbera rounds out the top five with 111 points.

Superbike Race 1

  1. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  2. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
  3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
  4. Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
  5. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
  6. Hector Barbera (BMW)
  7. PJ Jacobsen (BMW)
  8. Kyle Wyman (Suzuki)
  9. Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
  10. Travis Wyman (BMW)

Jake Gagne – Winner

“It’s kind of nice being on the inside here. But my initial jump was really strong. This Yamaha always gets off the line good. I got down into turn two pretty hard. I was expecting somebody to throw it up the inside, for sure. I think, like Danilo (Petrucci) said, maybe he missed a gear. I got a little lucky on the first lap I think to get that bit of a break. I came by first lap and on the pit board I see .3 or .4. It’s just enough to kind of make me run my lines and not have to ride too defensively. At that point it’s like, ‘Okay, just click off laps.’ I was a little bit surprised, honestly. I was a little surprised to see my gap growing a little bit more than I had anticipated. I thought everybody has been really, really tight all weekend. Throughout practice, we’ve really done our homework and just understanding what the race is going to feel like. It was slick. It was slick for everybody out there, I think, especially after those first six, seven, eight laps. You almost couldn’t even use full lean angle in a lot of the turns. But I had fun sliding around out there. I could see coming down, Cam’s (Petersen) pit board, P2, plus zero. I see Danilo, P3 pit board. So, I knew they were having a good fight back there. Tomorrow is going to be a different story. I know everybody is going to step it up tomorrow. Both of these guys are going to step it up. They’re going to have more speed, no doubt. So, hopefully we can try to do our homework, too, and get a little better and it’ll be another fight.”

Cameron Petersen – Second Place

I don’t think there was contact when I came back past him. I knew I was going to have to do something because he obviously was going to get the run on me. So, I just tried everything I could. I really wanted to try to get one and two for the team in that one. Honestly, I’ve been waiting all year to have a nice, fun battle with somebody like that, especially Danilo (Petrucci). We’ve been off a little bit all year from Jake (Gagne). We’re figuring it out. That was a fun race. I had pressure from Danilo the whole time. I knew he was going to try something, just like every racer would, going into the last lap. I was pretty determined before that one. I really wanted to get a one and two for the team. We managed to make it happen. Congrats to these guys. I had a bunch of fun that race. I haven’t had pressure like that for a while. A bunch of fun riding with Danilo. Well done to my teammate, Jake. Once again, he’s just on another level. We’ll go do our homework and see if we can find a few things for tomorrow. Once again, those first few laps, we’ve got to figure it out. Looking forward to it.”

Danilo Petrucci – Third Place

“Yeah, it was nice. I made a gamble with the rear tyre. This morning, I tried this tyre, and it was a little bit better than in the afternoon. I made a mistake in the first corner. I was in third instead of second. I was losing a lot, especially the first two laps. But then I said, ‘Maybe the two guys with the softer option will drop a bit the pace.’ But in fact, it was not, because I was lap by lap more and more in trouble, especially with the corner speed. I was feeling always the rear sliding. I managed to stay with Cam (Petersen) but was really difficult for me to pass because I got no traction out of the corner. So, from the outside, I think everybody was thinking I was waiting until the last lap, but I got just the opportunity of the last lap because I was not thinking about the championship. I just tried to at least finish second. Unfortunately, the only thing with Cam was, not slower, but we got two different bikes and our lines are slightly different. I just have one meter of space. I tried to go in. I said, ‘Hopefully, he will not close the line. ‘Fortunately, we did just a soft touch. But then I was a little bit less happy when I saw him coming again. Definitely, I think from the outside it was good to watch. Unfortunately, everyone forgot that Jake was miles away, and this is the main problem for tomorrow. For today, I enjoyed. Congrats to these two guys. We are really having fun. It’s nice to have racing like this.”

Sunday

If you would have bet that Jake Gagne wouldn’t lead the 2022 MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship until the sixth round (and 12th race) of the series, you’d be a bit richer today than you were yesterday.

Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Gagne completed a sweep of the two Medallia Superbike races in the GEICO Motorcycle MotoAmerica Speedfest at Monterey on Sunday, the defending series champion taking over the lead of the 2022 title chase for the first time all season in the process.

Gagne nailed the holeshot from third on the front row, put his head down and gapped the field. From there it was just a matter of putting in quick laps, getting the lead to four seconds, then maintaining a fast pace to the finish. Gagne crossed the finish line after 20 laps of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was a signature Gagne race.

The win was Gagne’s fourth in a row and seventh this year as he’s kicked his season into high gear heading into the second half of the series. He now leads the championship by three points.

Although the podium was the same as in yesterday’s race one, the results were different with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci turning the tables on Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen in race two, the pair finishing second and third, respectively.

Although he went one better than yesterday, Petrucci’s runner-up finish wasn’t enough to keep Gagne at bay and the Yamaha man now leads the championship by three points, 215-212, marking the first time since the season began in Texas that Petrucci isn’t the championship leader.

For the second day in a row, Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Superbike rookie Richie Escalante showed why he was picked by Suzuki to make the move to Superbike. Escalante ran third for a few laps before giving way to Petersen and Westby Racing Mathew Scholtz, his pace impressing both riders. When Scholtz crashed out of the race, Escalante inherited fourth and held it to the finish for the second straight day. He finished 17.9 seconds behind Gagne a day after finishing 17.5 seconds behind Gagne, but the race winner’s pace was faster in race two (28:17.534 to 28:19.887). An impressive weekend for the former MotoAmerica Supersport Champion.

With Scholtz a non-finisher, Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Hector Barbera improved by a position over yesterday’s sixth place with the Spaniard ending up fifth on Sunday. He was some eight seconds ahead of his teammate PJ Jacobsen at the finish.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Kyle Wyman was eighth in his fill-in ride for the injured Jake Lewis, the New Yorker beating his brother Travis to the finish line by some four seconds.

Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander was ninth, shadowing his teammate Travis Wyman to the end and losing out by just .247 of a second. ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony finished 10th after beating Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim to the checkered flag.

So, with 12 races in the books, Gagne leads Petrucci by three points, 215-212. Petersen’s third-place finish combined with Scholtz’s non-finish swaps the two South Africans with Petersen now third with 175 points to Scholtz’s 170. Barbera is fifth with 122 points.

Jake Gagne – Winner

“Getting a holeshot makes life easy. These Yamahas are really getting off the grid good. Especially today, I was really expecting to see a front wheel come up the inside. I wanted to do everything I could to at least push the pace, try to get a few laps in and see where we’re all at. In a way, I was a little bit surprised. We made some changes this morning. We went out in warmup and kind of just rolled around and tried not to do anything crazy. The bike was better today. We got more life out of the tyre. Our fastest laps were faster today. Running those 24s was a lot easier for me today. In a way, yesterday’s race was a lot more of a struggle than today. So, I’m just stoked that we made that headway. Even if we win, we’re still learning. We still need to go faster because these guys are coming. That being said, I think that is what I was stoked on, that we made progress. The bike felt good. I had a ton of fun riding around there, sliding around at this place. Even before the year, this has never been my best track. I’ve never felt like I’ve had any secrets at this place, so I kind of owe it all to the team and owe it all to this bike getting better and better and these guys working so damn hard. This is the one track I’ve always been a little nervous about. Last year the Ducati was really, really strong here. Almost beat us. We’re already halfway through the year. I’m not thinking about points. Just try to keep winning races. No matter what, all these guys deserve to be up here. Hats off to Cam (Petersen) and Danilo (Petrucci) putting on a show. Yesterday I saw that corkscrew once I got back to the hotel last night. That was wild. Hats off to everybody. It’s good to see a great turnout here too.”

Danilo Petrucci – Second Place

“Today I have just a small mistake. I think in the middle of the race I went a little bit wide in turn two. I tried to follow Jake (Gagne) the first lap, but at the beginning I don’t have so much feeling on the front. My rear tyre has grip, and the front is shaking. I cannot really trust the bike. Then after a few laps I have no traction and I just can manage. I tried to stay with Jake, but he was simply faster than me and truly deserves the championship lead because in the last races he has been really, really fast. We are trying. We definitely need more traction. What can I say? I just managed to stay up because cannot really push as I want, but at least I was able to stay in front of Cam (Petersen). I knew watching the race from yesterday, he was really, really fast out of the corner. I tried to defend myself on braking because it’s the only strong point I have at the moment. But anyway, I don’t have any excuses. Jake is faster at the moment, and also Cam is really, really fast. We need to improve our performance. We need to find a bit of traction. A good weekend. It’s always nice to race Laguna.

Cameron Petersen – Third Place

“I think it was lap two or three, just going into two I got in there deep. For some reason today, I was really struggling to get into turn two. I had a couple moments even straight up and down where the front felt like it wanted to tuck underneath me. I got stuck behind Richie (Escalante) for about two laps. I wouldn’t say I got stuck behind him. He had some good pace going. Then I was able to make the pass and just tried to do consistent laps. It took a while for me to close that gap to Danilo (Petrucci). Towards the end of the race, I think everybody was in the same boat, struggling for rear grip. I just wasn’t able to get the drive out of any of the corners. Danilo is really strong on the brakes. I was trying to see if anywhere would be possible. I had an idea. I was really good through turn 10 going into turn eleven. I thought I might be able to do something the last lap, but a little mistake over the Corkscrew. He was able to get that little bit of a gap, and that was it. Like you said, turned the season around. We were on a little bit of a roll. Once again, Jake is just doing Jake things, so we’ve got to close that gap to him. But all in all, a positive weekend. Jake taking over the points lead. I think I went up to third. Great positive weekend. Learned a bunch. Looking forward to the rest of the season. Congrats to the two guys next to me. It was a fun weekend racing with them. I look forward to the rest of the season.

Superbike Race 2

  1. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  2. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
  3. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
  4. Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
  5. Hector Barbera (BMW)
  6. PJ Jacobsen (BMW)
  7. Kyle Wyman (Suzuki)
  8. Travis Wyman (BMW)
  9. Corey Alexander (BMW)
  10. David Anthony (Suzuki)

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2022 in News

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