Although arm-pump issues have impacted his early season, Jake Gagne is still the man to beat in the Steel Commander Superbike Championship as the series heads to Brainerd, Minnesota, June 14-16. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

The only thing predictable about the 2024 MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike Championship is its unpredictability as the series embarks on its fourth round at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota, June 14-16.

Case in point #1: Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier appeared to be teetering on the verge of dominating this year’s championship after winning three of the first five races. Now Beaubier is out of action for a while after breaking his heel in his race-one crash at Road America in a rainstorm.

Case in point #2: Attack Performance/Progressive/Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne leads the title chase but has only won a single race. He also has unheard-of results for the three-time champion of eighth, seventh and fifth on his scorecard after early-season struggles with arm pump. He is, however, only one of two riders in the top 10 to have scored points in all seven races.

Case in point #3: There have been four different winners in the Superbike class in the first seven races. Last year, there were four different winners in the entire 19-race series.

So, if you add all that up, it’s easy to see the unpredictability of the current season. And there’s plenty more to come. Next up: Brainerd International Raceway.

So, what does it all mean?

Gagne with his lone victory (in race two at Road Atlanta) and four total podiums leads the way into the “Land Of 10,000 Lakes” with 113 points. That puts him 18 points clear of the absent Beaubier, who will be watching from his California home and not sure of when his return will be as he may be out of action until his home round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Gagne’s arm-pump is something we must keep an eye on. One thing we know for certain, if Gagne isn’t winning races and is not a consistent podium finisher, there’s still a problem. Only time will tell, and Brainerd will provide a good test as to the health of those forearms.

Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong is having his best Superbike season since his three-win season in 2020 on the M4 Suzuki that placed him third at season’s end in the championship. Fong’s ride to second place in race two at Road America almost two weeks ago was heroic and more than made up for his struggles in the wet race one where he soldiered on to finish eighth.

Fong, who is the only rider other than Gagne to score points in all seven races, is 25 points behind the three-time series champ and just seven behind Beaubier, who will surely lose that second ranking this coming weekend.

Several riders are giving chase to Gagne, and third to seventh in the championship is tight with 16 points covering the five riders.

Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen has two victories on his scorecard, which already matches his career-high of two wins in 2022. Petersen was robbed of more points when his Yamaha failed him in race two at Road America the day after his second win of the season.

TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly’s run of consistent top-level results ended with his scary crash while leading in the quagmire of race one at Road America. Kelly then ran into a mechanical issue on the final lap while dicing for second in race two. He was able to salvage a sixth-place finish that left him in a tie with Petersen for fourth in the standings. A little better luck and he would have left Wisconsin third in the championship.

Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin turned his season around with his first victory of the season in race two at Road America. Herrin’s Sunday victory moved him to sixth in the championship, four points behind Petersen and Kelly and 34 points in arrears of Gagne.

Herrin’s teammate Loris Baz was hoping for a bit more from Road America, but he still came away with his first podium of the season with his third in race one and a fourth in race two. The Frenchman is seven points behind his teammate.

JD Beach came out of the three-race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in a miserable state as he scored just nine points. What a difference a weekend makes. Beach was actually smiling on Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin after putting his Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR on the podium for the first time. A day earlier, Beach raced the bike to fourth, so he went from scoring nine points in three races in Alabama to 29 points in two races in Wisconsin.

Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim is ninth in the Superbike standings after sitting out the Road America round, just one point ahead of Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch, who had his best weekend of the season thus far at Road America with fifth and seventh-place finishes.

Beach will be joined this weekend on the second Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR by Mission King Of The Baggers Championship points leader Troy Herfoss with the three-time Australian Superbike Champion set to fill-in for the injured Beaubier on the team. Herfoss will do double duty on his S&S Indian Challenger in the Baggers race and in Steel Commander Superbike on a racetrack he’s never seen before.

Pre-Race Brainerd Notes…

PJ Jacobsen won the first MotoAmerica Superbike race of his career last year in Sunday’s race two at Brainerd International Raceway, and he did it the right way – by holding off Jake Gagne in a straight fight. Gagne, who won Saturday’s race one, finished second with Mathew Scholtz third. Jacobsen had finished second to Gagne in the first race with Josh Herrin taking the final podium spot.

Two of the names from last year’s Superbike podiums are now racing in the Supersport Championship. PJ Jacobsen leads the series point standings on his Rahal Ducati Moto Panigale V2 with Strack Racing’s Mathew Scholtz giving chase in second on his Yamaha YZF-R6. Those two have won all six of the Supersport races this year and Jacobsen leads Scholtz by 12 points, 131-119.

Pole position for last year’s race went to Cameron Beaubier with his 1:30.688. The five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion was the only rider to break into the 1:30s during qualifying. He was joined on the front row by PJ Jacobsen and Jake Gagne.

Jake Gagne’s lap of 1:29.922 from 2021 is still the Superbike lap record and Gagne also has the race record of 1:29.922 from race two in 2021.

Beaubier, a three-time winner thus far in 2024, has been ruled out of racing this year at Brainerd as he recovers from heel surgery after crashing out of race one at Road America nearly two weeks ago.

This year’s round at Brainerd International Raceway is the fourth straight visit to the Minnesotan racetrack since the series ended a 17-year hiatus in 2021.

Of the six Superbike races held at Brainerd in the MotoAmerica era, Jake Gagne has won four of them. The other two went to Italian Danilo Petrucci in 2022 and PJ Jacobsen in 2023.