Plain and simple. Jake Gagne is on a roll and has looked unstoppable in winning a record-setting 11 MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike races in a row. But with another race comes renewed hope for his rivals. Maybe, just maybe, this is their week.
The MotoAmerica paddock heads to Pennsylvania, August 13-15, for one of the more popular stops on the calendar – round seven: Pittsburgh International Race Complex – and everyone rolls out on track on Friday morning hoping to have the answer to the biggest question of 2021. Can anyone stop Gagne and his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha?
So far, the answer is no. And the more he wins, the more his confidence grows and the harder he is to beat. Case in point, the last round at Brainerd International Raceway. Gagne crashed in front of the HONOS Superbike pack on the opening lap and somehow neither he nor his motorcycle got struck by another rider. He was unscathed and so was his Yamaha YZF-R1. Meanwhile, 100 yards up the track and a few seconds later, Loris Baz slid off his Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York Panigale V4 R, the bike hit the gravel trap, cartwheeled, and basically broke in half. Fast forward half an hour and Gagne was on his way to winning his 10th in a row while Baz watched from hot pit.
Such is the life of Jake Gagne in 2021.
Gagne crashed and won on Saturday in Minnesota, and then went out and won again on Sunday for a record-setting 11th in a row. This coming weekend in Pennsylvania, the Californian will be trying for an even dozen.
With Gagne’s win streak comes a generous points lead of 79 over Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the only other rider to win a HONOS Superbike race in 2021. Since his win in the opening round when Gagne’s bike failed him, Scholtz has visited the podium seven more times, including his runner-up finish to Gagne in Sunday’s race at BIR a couple of weeks ago.
With two races left to be run at Pitt Race and three at both New Jersey Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park to close the season, there’s still plenty to play for with 200 points on the table. But first things first: Someone has to stop the runaway train that is Gagne.
Scholtz, meanwhile, has a 35-point cushion on his South African countryman Cameron Petersen, the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider having a consistent season with four trips to the podium in 2021. Petersen, in turn, has 16 points on Gagne’s teammate Josh Herrin with the 2013 AMA Superbike Champion missing the last round after testing positive for COVID-19.
While the points leader is way out front and Scholtz looks sort of secure in second, the battle for points behind them is close with only 23 points separating Petersen in third from Baz in sixth, with Herrin and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong separating the two.
Seventh is held by Scheibe Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera, with the Spaniard continuing to impress in his first season in the MotoAmerica Series.
The next three riders in the Superbike title chase are the three riders fighting to take home the $25,000 for winning the Superbike Cup, a class within a class for those racing their Stock 1000-spec motorcycles in the premier class. Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis is leading the way into Pitt Race, but he’s just seven points ahead of Travis Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman and another seven clear of HONOS HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander with that trio rounding out the top 10 in the Superbike Championship.
Pitt Race Superbike Notes…
This year’s race at Pittsburgh International Race Complex will mark the track’s fifth straight MotoAmerica event. The 2.87-mile, 19-turn track was constructed in 2002 and MotoAmerica made its debut there in 2017.
Five different riders have won the eight MotoAmerica Superbike races held at the track in Beaver County: Cameron Beaubier (3), Toni Elias (2), Roger Hayden (1), Josh Herrin (1) and Garrett Gerloff (1).
Five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, who is now competing in the Moto2 World Championship, is the MotoAmerica Superbike lap record holder at Pitt Race. Beaubier set the outright lap record of 1:39.472 during Superpole in 2019 and set the race record of 1:40.550 in race two last year.
Beaubier won both HONOS Superbike races at Pitt Race in 2020 besting Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne in the pair of races.
Only two riders have won HONOS Superbike races in 2021 – Jake Gagne and Mathew Scholtz. Six riders, however, have earned podium finishes this year: Gagne (11), Scholtz (8), Josh Herrin (5), Loris Baz (5), Cameron Petersen (4) and Bobby Fong (2).
With his 11th victory coming in the last round at Brainerd International Raceway, Jake Gagne moved into a tie for 17th on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with Australian Anthony Gobert. A single win at Pitt Race will move Gagne into a tie with Doug Chandler for 16th; two wins and Gagne will slot into a tie with Doug Polen and Blake Young for 14th all-time.
Cameron Beaubier won 13 races en route to the Superbike title in 2020 and Gagne already has 11 wins this year with eight races left on the schedule. Beaubier scored 436 points in his dominating 2020 season; Gagne currently has 275 points with 200 points still up for grabs.
If/when Loris Baz wins a HONOS Superbike race he will become the first Frenchman to ever win an AMA Superbike race. Australia, Italy, England, and Canada are the countries that follow the U.S. in the number of riders winning AMA Superbike races with two riders from each country. In total, riders from seven different foreign countries have won AMA Superbike races.
Californians have the most AMA Superbike victories with 18 different riders from the Golden State taking wins. Texas (8), Kentucky (4) and Georgia (3) are next on the list.