Plain and simple, Jake Gagne is on roll, the defending MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion winning his fifth race in a row and his eighth of the year in race one today at Brainerd International Raceway.
It’s really a case of déjà vu all over again.
On a sunny and warm day in Minnesota, Gagne was Gagne. As always, the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing-backed Californian, who now calls Colorado home, led from pole position, quickly gapped his pursuers, and maintained a lead that resulted in a 5.338 margin of victory in what was the 25th AMA Superbike win of his career.
Next best to Gagne was his teammate Cameron Petersen, the South African battling with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci for much of the race. With just a few laps to go, however, Petrucci hit a false neutral and ran off track, handing second place to Petersen. By the time Petrucci got back on the black stuff, he’d lost any hope of second place, and was some six seconds behind Petersen.
Still, the Italian former MotoGP star ended up on the podium in third, his 11th podium in 13 races as he continues a season of consistent podium finishes.
Petrucci ended up 9.3 seconds ahead of Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African riding with an injured left wrist after a big crash in Q2 on Saturday morning. Scholtz was in survival mode from the get-go and did well to finish fourth.
Fifth went to Tytlers Cycle Racing’s PJ Jacobsen just a second ahead of Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim with Gillim having his best Superbike finish of the season.
Aftercare Hayes Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates was seventh, three seconds behind Gillim and four seconds ahead of Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis returned to action after thumb surgery to finish ninth with ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony rounding out the top 10.
Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Hector Barbera had a rough day at the office, the Spaniard running off track on the opening lap before eventually crashing out of the race.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante was a non-starter after suffering an ankle injury in his Q2 crash on Saturday morning.
Gagne now leads the MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship by 12 points over Petrucci, 240-228. Petersen is third with 195 points, 12 points better than Scholtz. Barbera remains in fifth with 122 points.
Superbike Race 1
Jake Gagne – Winner
“Like both these guys said, it’s just a tricky place. You can knock it back a couple percent and just try to use the littlest lean angle and things like that, but it can just bite you in weird places. I’ve had that experience from last year and in testing. I’ve had some weird, big crashes at this place in the past, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. I got a good start. Like these guys said, even those first couple laps are a little tricky. I didn’t have any big, big moments, but from my seat I knew the rear wasn’t hooking up like it had in practice, so you just had to ride the tire a little bit differently. I’m just lucky I had a good couple clean laps and then once I had a little bit of a gap I could just ride and try not to make any mistakes. Like you said, you can’t just knock it back and ride around. You’ve really got to stay focused at this track. Some weird stuff could happen. Again, thanks to the Yamaha guys. They’re working hard. I think all of us want to try to figure out and understand how to get the tires to feel a little bit better and get a little more consistency. But it’s an interesting place. It’s tough to get that consistency and really know what the tires are going to do, until it’s too late.”
Cameron Petersen – Second Place
“Kind of same deal. There was a point where I actually even put my hand up because I thought there was something going on with the bike. I just couldn’t get into the corners. The thing was sliding everywhere. It’s actually been happening all weekend. It’s every time we put a new tire on; it’s like those first two or three laps it feels like an old tire. So, I think I was just kind of over-riding, like I have been all year, just to try and stay with Jake (Gagne). Ended up hurting me. It was an interesting race. I think we were all kind of battling with the same thing. It’s a weird surface here and the tires. With a brand-new tire, it feels like the thing has got 30 laps on it.”
Danilo Petrucci – Third Place
“No, at the end I made a mistake. The problem was that since the beginning, since the first lap, I thought I got a cold tire on the rear. Was really, really difficult to ride. Felt like got something wrong with the rear suspension or with traction control, don’t know. Now we checked the pressure and it’s really, really low the rear tire. It was much better at the end. I was pushing hard for go away from Cameron (Petersen), but I did a mistake and hit a neutral at the penultimate corner and I ran into the grass. Definitely one of the most difficult days. This morning I had a big, big crash, big highside like the all-time (biggest). It was not easy to rebuild the bike and go on. I’m so pissed off about my mistake but need to understand what happened on the bike. But definitely happy that tomorrow is another day.”
Just when everything was rolling along nicely for Jake Gagne, and he looked to be on his way to a ninth MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike win of the year, his Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing YZF-R1 was cartwheeling down the racetrack at Brainerd International Raceway, destroying itself more and more with every bounce. Fortunately, Gagne escaped uninjured, but his championship points lead took a hit.
Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci was the rider to pick up the pieces when Gagne crashed, and the Italian reaped the rewards for it. With his fourth win of the season, and his first since Road Atlanta in April, Petrucci moves back to the top of the championship point standings, 253-240, with three rounds and six races remaining.
Petrucci and Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen did a better job of putting in quick laps early to keep the pressure on Gagne and, despite a mistake when he was within two seconds, Petrucci was keeping that pressure on when the defending champion crashed. Ironically, Petrucci said after the race that he was about to throw in the towel on trying to keep the pace on the very same lap that Gagne crashed.
With Gagne down and out, Petrucci finished 7.1 seconds ahead of Petersen with the South African earning his 11th podium of the year and his seventh in a row.
PJ Jacobsen matched his best finish of the year with his second podium of the season on the Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR, the New Yorker finishing third some 10 seconds behind Petersen.
Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim was fifth on his Suzuki GSX-R1000, 3.6 seconds ahead of Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Hector Barbera. Aftercare Hayes Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates continued his quietly impressive season with sixth at Brainerd, eight seconds ahead of Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis.
Cycle World/Octane/Chuckwalla Racing’s Andrew Lee put in a solid ride as the replacement for the injured Michael Gilbert to finish eighth.
Altus Motorsports’ Brandon Paasch and Triple M’s Jeremy Coffey rounded out the top 10 finishers.
In addition to Gagne, Max Flinders and Ezra Beaubier also crashed out of the race. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, meanwhile, opted not to race with the wrist injury he suffered on Saturday morning.
Petrucci’s championship lead is now 13 points over Gagne, 253-240. Petersen is third with 215 points with Scholtz fourth on 183 points. Barbera remains fifth with 133 points.
Superbike Race 2
Danilo Petrucci – Winner
“Yesterday was a tough one. I tried the first lap to stay as close as I can to Jake (Gagne), but I almost crashed, like in the practice. I was able to hold the bike but with my feet. I couldn’t turn here, and I ran wide in the corner later, so also Cam (Petersen) came past me. Then I was able to pass him again. I tried to push, but same mistake as yesterday. Hit the neutral on the penultimate corner and then Jake made a gap. Then I start to push. I said, ‘I have nothing to lose. I’m behind him in the championship, behind him in this race. So, I need to try.’ The moment I said, ‘okay, he went away again.’ Unfortunately, he crashed. I’m sorry for him. I hope he is okay. That’s racing. The championship is definitely still open. I must be true. Jake in this moment is a bit faster than us, but on the pace, I think he was a bit of tenths faster. Then we made a massive change on the bike from yesterday, and we didn’t have the chance to try this morning. As I told you, I have nothing to lose at this point. I never look at the points. I know Jake is faster, but I need to stay in front of him because we cannot make any calculation with him. He’s always first, and you need to beat him. Congrats to these guys and thanks to my team.”
Cameron Petersen – Second Place
“Yeah, it was a tough one today. It was for sure better in those first couple laps. I felt like both mine and Danilo’s (Petrucci) pace was a little bit better those first few laps. But I just didn’t have the same feel. I think on average I was almost a second a lap slower. After the tires went off, I think I was on average close to a second a lap slower than what I was doing yesterday. So, just a big struggle today. I hit a couple false neutrals going into turn nine, which kind of hurt me. Then I just started riding tight and just wasn’t riding like I was yesterday. So, pretty upset with the way I rode today. It’s nothing that the team did, nothing with the bike. It was just pretty much all on me. Congrats to Danilo on another win. Bummer my teammate crashed out on that one. He obviously had the gap and kind of seemed like he had it in the bag, but that’s racing. Looking forward to Pittsburgh. It should be good.”
PJ Jacobsen – Third Place
“We did some electronics with the chassis last night, so we made some improvements from yesterday. This is my first time here racing. The bike was working a lot better during the beginning of the race. I was able to stay with them for a few laps. And then I saw Cam (Petersen), but he had a different pace. I just tried to stay there and then I got into my own rhythm, and I was trying to just maintain what I could. So, that’s really all I could do today with the BMW. Hopefully, we can just keep on improving and maybe get some more help and stuff like that to get a better direction to get more towards the front. Once the tire kind of goes off, the BMW is very aggressive. It seems like it doesn’t like it. The thing is a monster to ride around. Just try to calm it down a little bit. This race today, it felt like the bike was a bit calmer for me, so it was easier to ride. We still have to make a lot of steps to be able to go in the direction of these guys to even stay more laps before we fall off and just keep making steps like that. That’s really the best we could do. I think the team is doing a good job for their first year in the series.”