Other than surviving one of the scariest moments of his racing career midway through the Medallia Superbike race at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne had the perfect weekend in Alabama. The two-time defending Medallia Superbike Champion started from pole position and led every lap en route to a clean sweep of the two races.
Sunday’s victory was Gagne’s third in a row, and it increased his lead in the championship to 24 points over Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, 95-71. The win was also the 32nd AMA Superbike victory for Gagne and it moved him into a tie for fourth overall with Miguel Duhamel and Toni Elias on the all-time AMA Superbike win list.
Gagne’s only scare was when he lost control of his Yamaha YZF-R1, ran on to the grass and dirt on the inside of turn three, somehow saved it and carried on to win the 20-lap race by 2.9 seconds.
“It could have been bad. I got lucky,” Gagne said of his near crash after the race.
Other than that, Gagne’s 32nd win was like the other 31. Get a great start and don’t let anyone else get near you, much less past you.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was second on his Yamaha YZF-R1 with the South African getting the better of Beaubier after a near race-long battle for the position. Their race came down to a last-lap brawl with the pair crossing the finish line just .161 of a second apart and almost hitting as Scholtz unknowingly swerved into Beaubier’s path.
Beaubier, who was fourth on Saturday with the harder-compound Dunlop R5s, switched to the softer R3 Dunlop for race two on Sunday and it paid dividends as he was a fighting third.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante had his best Superbike weekend to date, and he ended it in style with an impressive fourth-place finish on Sunday. Escalante was 5.7 seconds behind Beaubier and some six seconds clear of fifth-placed PJ Jacobsen with the New Yorker getting the better of Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin, who struggled with tire-wear woes.
With Herrin sixth, seventh went to Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Corey Alexander, who was less than a second ahead of Aftercare Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Toni Elias was ninth with Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim rounding out the top 10.
The most notable of the non-finishers was Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen with the South African crashing out of second on the opening lap while trying to keep pace with Gagne.
Superbike Race 2
Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
Cameron Beaubier (BMW)
Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
PJ Jacobsen (BMW)
Josh Herrin (Ducati)
Corey Alexander (BMW)
Ashton Yates (BMW)
Toni Elias (Suzuki)
Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
Jake Gagne – Winner
“I got off to another good start. There was some chaos on the grid. I pulled up to the grid last and I got off to a sweet start, luckily. I heard Cam (Petersen) went down in five. I was surprised on my gap. Even on the first lap I think I had a half second on my board, or something. So, I think that kind of gave me that little bit of a separation in the beginning. Put my head down. I was surprised to see 22.4 (a 1:22.4 lap), honestly. Really surprised. So, those first couple laps gave me a good break. We made some improvements on the bike. It was a little easier for me to ride. It was turning a little better than it was yesterday. But I think halfway through out of turn two, I had a moment that I haven’t had in years. Totally sideways, almost highsided. Ran off the inside grass, up over the curb, into the grass up over turn three. It was gnarly. I don’t even know. I think I only lost like a second somehow. I was expecting to lose a lot more than that. So, I got really lucky that I even kept it. After that, I’m like, I got to bring this thing home. I know these guys could – I had enough of a gap, they could reel me in a bit. I just needed to bring it home. Good weekend. This is obviously a track that really, really suits the Yamaha. So, I wanted to come in here and take advantage of that. Next up, Road America. I think all these boys are going to be in the hunt. It’s not going to be easy to get a win there, but we’ll just keep doing our job. Again, hats off to the team. I’m glad we got two dry races in here, because the weather was looking kind of gnarly. Good weekend.”
Mathew Scholtz – Second Place
“I think I pulled a little bit of a gap and Cameron (Beaubier) closed me down. I kind of knew from I think maybe lap six or seven that Cam had a couple tenths on me. So, I didn’t really try to push as hard as I could on the limits and use too much tire. Once he passed me, I just made sure I made a couple good laps down that he didn’t pull a gap. There were a couple sectors on the track that he was definitely quicker, a couple sectors I was a little bit faster. On the final lap, I knew Charlotte’s Web was one of the main points that you could pass someone, so I went in there really, really deep. Then ruined the drive coming out. Cameron got up next to me going into corner seven. I brake-passed him there and it was a pretty hard pass. So, I kind of thought that I had a couple bike lengths and going into the final corner I tried to focus on driving out hard. Pushed the front and I just kind of had to close the line a little bit, because I know Cameron was obviously right there and driving off the corner well. Obviously, I don’t mean to try to cut somebody off, but I’m just happy to be sitting up here in second place. Obviously watching Cam ride Moto2 for the last two years, it feels awesome to be up here battling with him. So, well done to Jake (Gagne). He spanked us one more time. Hopefully ,in two weeks’ time we can give him something.”
Cameron Beaubier – Third Place
“This morning I was super happy with how I was riding. I was super happy with the step we made this morning. We made a couple tweaks to the bike overnight and threw the soft tire in. I’ve been struggling pretty much ever since I got on this bike to make a good time on the soft tire. I think part of it is I’m just not trusting the TC, I’m not trusting the bike. I felt just really good first from as soon as I rode out of pit lane. I was just trusting the thing. I was really riding the bike. I felt like I made a good step this morning on it. So, we just decided to race on the R3 soft rear, and it was a lot better than yesterday. I had really good grip there at the beginning. I just got stuck behind Josh (Herrin). He was really good on the brakes. Obviously, the Ducati has some speed on the straight. So, that was a little tough, but I put my head down after I was able to get by him and was able to reel in Matty (Scholtz). Matty had a really good pace going, and so did I at the beginning. I saw low 23s for a while on my dash. I was able to pass Matty and just kept my head down. Then I started running into tire problems. Even my front was pushing around. The rear was coming around here and there. Then I just kind of lost my roll speed around the track. Ended up almost losing it down into five, into Charlotte’s Web. Matty got by. I just tried to do everything I could to stick on Matty’s wheel because he had a really good pace going. He was high 23s, low 24s. I tried to do something with him on the last lap. Like I said, I was struggling just to hang there. I came into the last lap. I was going to try to line him up going into Charlotte’s Web. I wasn’t close enough. Then he pushed the front in the last corner, and I snuck up the inside of him. I thought I was going to beat him to the line, but he got me with a sneaky little swerve. I don’t think he realized I was as close as I was. Hats off to him. He was riding so good. Obviously, Jake (Gagne) rode incredible all weekend. It’s going to be tough to close the gap to that guy, but just happy to get out of here with a podium and move on with the season.”
- From MotoAmerica.com