Jake Gagne leads the field down the Corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The new championship points leader was never headed in leading the race from start to finish. Photo by Brian J. Nelson
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 tire. 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 tire 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
Jake Gagne (Yamaha)Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)Richie Escalante (Suzuki)Hector Barbera (BMW)PJ Jacobsen (BMW)Kyle Wyman (Suzuki)Travis Wyman (BMW)Corey Alexander (BMW)David Anthony (Suzuki)
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