Jake Gagne made history on Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway, the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha man racing to his 11th straight MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike win to break a record set jointly by four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes and five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier.
The win was like most of Gagne’s other victories. Dominating. He shot off from pole position and was never headed, storming to a 5.2-second win over Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, who had his hands full for the duration with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz. At the completion of 18 laps, Scholtz was just over a second ahead of the Frenchman with Baz making a mistake on the final lap that prevented him from making a run at the South African.
Gagne’s win streak dates back to race two at the season-opener at Road Atlanta in May, the Californian suffered an engine failure in race one, but he hasn’t lost since.
“Not really,” Gagne said when asked if he thought pre-season that this sort of win streak was possible. “That’s not what I thought. This class is so stacked and there’s a lot of great teams. We were just fortunate. We started off the year really comfortable and we had a bike that worked really, really well everywhere. We still have a bike that works really well everywhere. I’m just so happy. Everything is gelling really good with the team. I’ve got a great crew, great crew chief, everybody. With Corndog (Jon Cornwell, his crew chief), with Richard (Stanboli, the team owner) with Darin (Marshall, his electronics man) at home, with Mike (Canfield) and Walker (Jemison) on the bike. We’re all in a good place. We’re all having fun racing motorcycles. We’re trying to enjoy it. We’ve had a lot of great days throughout this year, but we know anything can happen. These guys are coming. They’re getting closer and closer. But I’m happy with this weekend. Thursday and Friday we were still fast, but it wasn’t the bike that I had all year. So yesterday we kind of changed some stuff up and it felt more like my bike again. I was just fortunate I got off to a good start. I was spinning the rear tire all the way into turn one. It was weird having pole position on the inside, so you’re entering that turn one from the inside on the dirty stuff and that thing was just bucking me. I managed to get a good couple laps in there and was just keeping an eye on my pit board. Hats off to the Yamaha Fresh N’ Lean Attack team because this is awesome. I’m trying not to think about any streak or how many wins we got or whatever. This weekend is behind us. Now we’ve got to go to Pittsburgh and get to work because it’s going to get tougher and tougher.”
Scholtz closed out a successful weekend in AMA Superbike racing’s return to Brainerd International Raceway with his third- and second-place finishes in Minnesota.
“It’s always nice to be up on the podium, especially after struggling around three and four, four and five,” Scholtz said. “Laguna Seca it was nice to kind of get up on the podium there. Then to come and get two really good podiums, fighting guys and actually showing that I have the pace to be back up here, that was awesome. I just need to try to work on the first couple laps because I’m just struggling. I kind of suck in the first four or five laps. I have no feeling. I’m slipping and sliding everywhere. I feel like the front is just pushing. I think that Bobby (Fong) was following Jake (Gagne). He pulled away big time. Cameron (Beaubier) passed me. I was struggling, and then (Loris) Baz passed me and I kind of thought, ‘this guy started in 10th and he’s passing me. I’ve got to do something.’ So, I started kind of pushing a little bit harder than I should have. Took one or two chances, but then kind of settled into a decent rhythm from there. I could see when I was fighting Baz, like he said, there were a couple corners that I would catch him a lot and there were a couple corners where he was pulling me a lot, too. So, we were kind of going backwards and forwards lots. Then one of the laps, out of corner six we got a pretty decent drive and got within a bike length of two of Loris going into the carousel corner. He went a little bit wider than he usually did, so I kind of thought this was my chance and I dove up there. In corner three, maybe corner six, 12, all the corners where you would normally think about passing someone, Loris was an absolute animal braking late. He would pull four or five bikes every single time. So, I kind of knew that I had to figure out something somewhere else. Just happy to be back up here in second place kind of where we should be. I think the last couple laps I was with the same pace as what Jake was. Just need to figure out those first couple laps and work on those two, three, four outright laps of just pushing.”
Baz rebounded from a bad day at the office on Saturday in race one, the Frenchman crashing out on the second lap of the race and destroying his Ducati Panigale V4 R. Baz had to go to the backup bike for Sunday and he came through from 10th on the grid to finish third.
“Yeah, not so bad, especially after the disaster yesterday,” Baz said. “I’m still very angry with what happened yesterday. It was completely unprofessional. I’m just happy that we are alive with Jake (Gagne), because it was really scary the first laps. Then as you said, you try to put it behind. You go on your backup bike. We had some issue in the warmup. Some sensors were not working, so we could not make everything we wanted. So, I was just crossing the fingers that everything worked for the race. The mechanics from the Warhorse HSBK Racing team did an amazing job. Like you said, the frame was cut in two parts, the swingarm broken, everything was dead. So, they had to put another bike together. I did a pretty good start. I wanted to try to get to P2 as soon as possible. As I expected, when I was P2, Jake was already far away. Then I just tried to save a little bit my tires. We had a battle with Mathew (Scholtz), which was really nice. I was behind him. He was stronger in a couple of places, like Mathew said, then I was stronger in all the second section. I think two laps to go I found the place where I wanted to try something in the last lap but going into the carousel, I had a neutral, and if you go straight here you get a five-second penalty so I did everything I could just to stay on the track. I lost much but hats off to them. They did an amazing job. I just want to thank my team a lot and the Ducati guys, Paolo Ciabatti who came this weekend. We did a really good job to make the V4 working better and better over those kind of tracks, really bumpy. We were much stronger than we were at the test. So, we go on again for the next one. Try to improve again.”
Next up was M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong, the Californian looking like he would repeat Saturday’s second-place finish until an off-track excursion pushed him down the order. He fought back, however, passing his teammate Cameron Petersen in the closing laps for fourth place.
Petersen was fifth, some three seconds clear of Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s fill-in rider JD Beach with the full-time flat track racer impressing everyone in the paddock with his weekend after not racing a Superbike in two years. Beach was faster in Sunday’s race than he was in Saturday’s as he improved in every session and every race as his comfort level increased.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera finished behind Beach, the Spaniard suffering early on with an off-track excursion.
As he was on Saturday, Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis was the top Superbike Cup racer, finishing eighth on his Stock 1000-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000.
FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward completed his return-from-injury weekend to finish ninth with HONOS HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander rounding out the top 10.
Superbike Gara 2
Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
Matteo Scholtz (Yamaha)
Loris Baz (Ducati)
Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
Cameron Petersen (Suzuki)
JD Beach (Yamaha)
Hector Barbera (BMW)
Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
Bradley Ward (Suzuki)
Corey Alexander (Kawasaki)