The top two in the Medallia Superbike Championship: Jake Gagne (1) and Cameron Beaubier (6). And Josh Herrin isn’t far behind as we head to Brainerd International Raceway for round six, July 28-30. Photo by Brian J. Nelson
The second half of the 2023 MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship will get rolling this coming weekend, July 28-30, at Brainerd International Raceway and if the second half is anywhere near as good as the first half, then we can look forward to nine more thrilling races from the remaining four rounds.
The three main protagonists thus far in the championship are two-time and defending Medallia Superbike Champion Jake Gagne, five-time champion Cameron Beaubier and 2013 champion Josh Herrin. Of the 11 races in the books, Gagne and Beaubier have won five races apiece with Herrin winning the only race not won by those two. That translates to winners of eight of the past 10 Superbike Championships battling it out for the 2023 title.
With 39 points separating the top three and 225 points still up for grabs, it’s going to be interesting. To spice things up even more, the title chase is also a battle between three manufacturers with Yamaha (Gagne) vs. BMW (Beaubier) vs. Ducati (Herrin).
While Herrin has won just one race, he’s the only one in the top three who has scored points in every round. Gagne, meanwhile, has a lone non-score and Beaubier has two non-finishes and one race where he crashed and scored just nine points. Those three negatives on Beaubier’s scorecard are basically the difference between him and Gagne.
Gagne arrives in the land of 10,000 lakes with five victories and 10 total podiums with his latest victory coming in the first of three Medallia Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Gagne was in the right place at the right time in that one as his teammate Cameron Petersen crashed while leading the pack on the opening lap. With nowhere to go, Beaubier struck Petersen’s Yamaha YZF-R1 and crashed, taking two of the stars out of the race on the opening lap. Gagne went on to win by 5.3 seconds over Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Herrin with PJ Jacobsen finishing third.
It was Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Beaubier who won race two and three at Laguna Seca by 2.4 seconds over Gagne in race two and by .6 of a second over Herrin in race two. Gagne crossed the line second in race three but was given a two-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.
The two wins on Sunday in Monterey were Beaubier’s fourth and fifth victories of the season as he tries to make up ground in the championship from his two non-finishes.
Herrin, meanwhile, comes to Brainerd with seven straight podium finishes and eight total top-three finishes. Herrin had a lackluster (for him) two races at Barber Motorsports Park back in May with two fifth-place finishes (Gagne won both), but that’s really the Ducati rider’s only “bad” weekend.
Fourth place in the championship heading into the second half of the season is Richie Escalante, the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider scoring points in every round thus far in his sophomore season in the Medallia Superbike class. Escalante comes into Brainerd with four straight fourth-place finishes as he starts to sneak closer and closer to what will be his first-ever Superbike podium.
Escalante is just eight points ahead of seasoned Superbike star Mathew Scholtz, the Westby Racing rider starting the season with podiums in three of the first four races. Of late, however, the South African has hit a dry spell, scoring points in just two of the last four races.
With three podium finishes on the season thus far, Beaubier’s Tytlers Cycle Racing teammate PJ Jacobsen is sixth in the series standings and just two points adrift of Scholtz. The third of the three Tytlers Cycle Racing BMWs is seventh in the championship with Corey Alexander having a strong season with points scored in every round thus far. Alexander’s best weekend was at Ridge Motorsports Park in Washington where he was fourth and fifth in the two races.
Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Petersen is eighth in the championship, but he will start sliding down the standings this weekend after electing to sit out the rest of the series to have surgery and rehab the broken wrist he’s been struggling to race with. While Petersen recovers at home, his Yamaha definitely won’t be resting as Josh Hayes has been called in to ride the YZF-R1 at least at Brainerd.
Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim is another to score points in every round in 2023 and he is ninth in the championship and 15 points ahead of 10th-placed Ashton Yates on the Aftercare Scheibe Racing BMW.
Pre-Brainerd Superbike Notes
With his two victories at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca a few weeks ago, Cameron Beaubier has now won 59 AMA Superbike races, which puts him just two wins behind Josh Hayes on the all-time AMA Superbike win list. That list is headed by Australian Mat Mladin with the former Yoshimura Suzuki rider amassing 82 Superbike wins during his AMA career.
Beaubier’s two wins at Laguna Seca were the 99th and 100th MotoAmerica Superbike podiums for the five-time champion. Beaubier had seven AMA Superbike podiums during his rookie season in the class in 2014, bringing his career total to 107.
Josh Hayes, meanwhile, continues to chase history as his next win in any class will put him alone at the top of the all-time AMA road race win record as he is currently tied with Miguel Duhamel with 86 wins across all classes. Hayes will be aboard his Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 in the two Supersport races at Brainerd. With his two Superbike wins at Laguna, Beaubier continues to climb up that ladder as well and with 80 wins across all classes, he is just six wins behind Duhamel and Hayes.
Hayes will get four shots at making history this week as he will be racing in both Supersport races and the pair of Medallia Superbike races as a replacement for the injured Cameron Petersen on the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing YZF-R1 at Brainerd.
This year’s MotoAmerica round at Brainerd International Raceway is the third straight visit to the racetrack in the Minnesota resort town since the series ended a 17-year hiatus in 2021.
Jake Gagne and Danilo Petrucci won the two Medallia Superbike races last year at BIR with Gagne beating his teammate Cameron Petersen by 5.3 seconds in race one. Petrucci, who was third in race one, beat Petersen by 7.1 seconds in race two after Gagne crashed out of the lead. PJ Jacobsen was third in race two.
Last year’s Brainerd race was the seventh round of the 2022 Medallia Superbike Championship, and it was Danilo Petrucci who left Minnesota with the points lead in the title chase. Petrucci led Gagne by 13 points after the first 14 races of the season.
Jake Gagne earned pole position for last year’s race at Brainerd with his 1:29.992 lap from qualifying. Cameron Petersen and Danilo Petrucci joined Gagne on the front row. Although he was on pole, Gagne narrowly missed breaking his lap record of 1:29.898 set during qualifying in 2021. Gagne’s best lap from race two in 2021 remains the best Superbike race lap at 1:29.922.
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