If Jake Gagne manages to get out of bed tomorrow and make it to the grid for the first of two HONOS Superbike races at New Jersey Motorsports Park, he will be crowned as the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion. Nuff said.
In HONOS Superbike race one on Saturday afternoon, Gagne and his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha again made a mockery of the rest of the field as he led all 20 laps in winning his 14th straight race by 7.6 seconds. After 15 races, Gagne leads the championship point standings by a whopping 98 points. If he scores two points in race one on Sunday, he will start race two as the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion – his second MotoAmerica title to go with his 2015 Superstock 1000 title.
Only a brave man would bet against Gagne winning his 15th and 16th straight races tomorrow and the Californian doesn’t seem to be willing to let someone else win.
“I wish I could,” Gagne said. “I just have to do my job. This bike is this good. I’ve got to ride it as hard as I can every lap. We made some good improvements throughout the weekend, throughout yesterday and this morning, and so got a little bit more comfortable. We were happy with our race pace. We knew kind of what we could do. It was a little slicker even than I thought this afternoon. I’m sure with the heat it got into the track, got into the tires. It was a little slicker than I thought, for sure. But I’m happy. I got off to a good start. I saw Mat (Scholtz) coming around the outside of me in one right there. I know these guys are going to try to stick it up in there, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’ve got two long races, so I’m sure it will be a battle. We’ll just keep clicking away at it. I’ve got nothing to do but ride the thing as hard as I can every lap, and whatever happens, happens.”
Second place on Saturday went to Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African taking the runner-up spot for the fifth time on the season as he solidifies his stranglehold on second in the championship.
“Second place, I kind of have to be happy,” Scholtz said. “Obviously, we would like to win, but Jake (Gagne) is on form now. It’s kind of nice to be the next-best guy after the Attack Yamaha. At this point it’s pretty clear to see that they have the best package. So, it’s always good to be up there. I think Jake beat us by seven or eight seconds, which is a little bit far, so I’m just going to go back to the briefing room now and just try to figure out what we can do better. The first five or six laps I felt good. We did a 21.2, 21.3 and I felt comfortable. Then I got to lap five or six and I was just pushing the front and sliding out of almost every single right-hand corner, so got to try to figure out something how we can kind of hook up better. Obviously, if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to pass Jake early on because once he kind of settles into his own groove and he’s gone, he definitely has a better pace than everyone else. So, hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to get a decent jump and try to do something out of the first couple corners. For now, just got to be happy with this second place. I had a decent battle with Toni (Elias). It’s always good to see him back up here. Happy with the Yamaha sweep of the podium. Just a big shoutout to the Westby team. We’ve been working hard. We completely changed the motorcycle about four or five rounds back, and I feel like we’ve been making steady progress forward. So, I’ve just got to keep on working at it and just chip away a couple tenths, and we should be right there.”
Toni Elias had his third outing on the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha and he put it on the podium for the second time, the Spaniard ending up third, some four seconds adrift of Scholtz and just .132 of a second ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong.
“This is the best bike and the best team,” Elias said. “We were a little bit limited at Pittsburgh. Maybe the track was a little bit better for me. This one is more difficult. They bring me something for the front that means I felt instantly much comfortable on the brakes. Let’s say, I come back to my riding style, to hard brakes and on braking areas. But I’m still missing rear contact, rear grip on entry, on exit. We are working so hard. We did small improvements, but I need something big. We are getting closer, because the possibilities of things were two things and we have no time, but every time we’re getting closer and closer, more close to the solution. That’s the goal. Today I had a really good start. I tried to follow him (Gagne) for six, seven laps. At the end, I couldn’t. Then Mathew (Scholtz) was having better pace than me. I decided to let him go and just he helped me to continue, and at the end I couldn’t either. I just was trying to not lose the rear too much. Also, Bobby (Fong) was faster than me, but I just closed the doors and pushed the last few laps and the last three corners and saved the podium. Thanks to the team, Attack Yamaha, to continue giving me opportunities. Tomorrow we have to work. I will keep pushing, working and let’s see what we can do.”
Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz finished fifth and some 10 seconds behind Fong after topping the third Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha ridden by the returning Josh Herrin by just .051 of a second.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen was seventh, well clear of One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman who was less than a second ahead of Superbike Cup winner Jake Lewis and his Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000. FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward rounded out the top 10.
Superbike Race One
- Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Yamaha)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
- Loris Baz (Ducati)
- Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
- Cameron Petersen (Suzuki)
- Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- Bradley Ward (Suzuki)