Jake Gagne cast a lonely shadow on the front row of the grid for the second part of the red-flag-interrupted Medallia Superbike race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday as the other two front-row starters were nowhere to be seen.
A scary crash on the exit of turn two on the opening lap of the first start had taken out pole sitter Cameron Beaubier and Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen. Prior to the restart, Richie Escalante – the third fastest qualifier – had a brake issue and missed the sighting lap and was put to the back of the grid. Thus, a lonely Gagne was the only rider on the front row while the second row also lacked Petersen who, like Beaubier, was unable to make the restart.
But first things first. The crash. With Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Petersen nabbing the holeshot from the second row, he led the field through turn two and then highsided on the exit. Beaubier and the Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR had nowhere to go, and he slammed into Petersen’s crashed Yamaha YZF-R1 and also went down. At that point the race was stopped.
On the restart, Gagne wasn’t challenged, and he led every one of the 19 laps, eventually crossing the finish line 5.3 seconds clear of second place. The victory was the fifth of the year for the championship points leader and his Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha YZF-R1 and the 34th of his career.
A battered and bruised Josh Herrin finished second on the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati Panigale V4 R, besting a fast-closing PJ Jacobsen on the Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR. The red flag cost Jacobsen any chance of a late-race attack on Herrin and he finished just .368 of a second behind the
Considering he started from the back row of the grid, Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante continued to show that he’s a top-tier Superbike racer as he carved his way through the field to latch on to the back of the Jacobsen/Mathew Scholtz battle for third. When Scholtz crashed out of the race with two laps to go, Escalante inherited fourth place just hours after earning the first Superbike front-row starting spot of his career in the second qualifying session on Saturday morning. Scholtz’s crash in Rainey Curve brought out a second red flag and the race was called complete.
Escalante’s Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate Brandon Paasch finished an impressive fifth in his debut on the factory Suzuki GSX-R1000R. It was also Paasch’s comeback ride after he suffered a broken back in an off-season motocross crash.
Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong ended up sixth with Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim seventh. Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Corey Alexander, Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders and Aftercare Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates completed the top 10.
Superbike Race One
Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
Josh Herrin (Ducati)
PJ Jacobsen (BMW)
Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
Brandon Paasch (Suzuki)
Bobby Fong (Yamaha)
Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
Corey Alexander (BMW)
Max Flinders (Yamaha)
Ashton Yates (BMW)
Photo courtesy MotoAmerica by Brian J. Nelson