Cameron Petersen (45) and his teammate Jake Gagne (1) flew in formation for most of the race. Petersen took the victory, his third of the season. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Rain races are difficult. Rain races when you’re not quite sure if they are going to stay wet are even worse. Turns out that the surprise rain on Saturday at Ridge Motorsports Park ended up truly surprising a lot of the field – but not the Attack Performance/Progressive/Yamaha Racing and Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teams.

The result was a runaway one-two finish for the Yamaha squad with Cameron Petersen beating his teammate Jake Gagne by just .032 of a second in the red-flag-shortened race that was already shortened because of the conditions. The two crews had fitted Dunlop rain tires to Petersen’s and Gagne’s YZF-R1s and it paid dividends.

Third place went to the other factory team that got it right with Xavi Forés earning his first-career MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike podium by splish-splashing his way to third on the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki with its full Dunlop rain tires. Forés ended up 9.5 seconds behind the Yamaha duo and some three seconds clear of Team Brazil’s Danilo Lewis with the Superbike Cup series leader also on rains.

The first of those using slick racing tires was eighth-placed Loris Baz on the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati with the Frenchman somehow keeping the Panigale V4 upright to cross the line a minute and 13 seconds off Petersen’s winning pace.

In between Lewis and Baz came AMD Motorsport RK Racing’s Richard Kerr, the Irishman at home in the conditions. Then came Stock 1000 podium finishers Ashton Yates with his Jones Honda and Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim in seventh and eighth, respectively.

Forés’s teammate Brandon Paasch had rains fitted and came back from an off-track excursion to finish ninth. He was also given a five-second penalty for working on the bike on the grid.

Some big names who gambled with slicks paid the consequences, including Baz’s teammate Josh Herrin (11th) and Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong (14th).

Tytlers Cycle Racing’s JD Beach started from pit lane after opting to swap to rain tires after the warm-up lap. He rode through a lot of the pack to finish 10th, turning in the fifth-fastest lap of the race in the process.

Among the non-finishers were Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier and TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly, both of whom opted out after starting on slicks and realizing it was a mistake.

With his third win of the season, Petersen jumps to third in the Steel Commander Superbike Championship with 135 points. Gagne, who has been struggling with arm-pump issues, got some reprieve with the rain, and his second-place finish moved him past Fong and into the lead, 150-138.

Ducati teammates Herrin and Baz are fourth and fifth, respectively, 124-109.

Superbike Race 1

  1. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
  2. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  3. Xavi Forés (Suzuki)
  4. Danilo Lewis (BMW)
  5. Richard Kerr (Honda)
  6. Ashton Yates (Honda)
  7. Hayden Gillim (Honda)
  8. Loris Baz (Ducati)
  9. Brandon Paasch (Suzuki)
  10. JD Beach (BMW)

Quotes

Cam Petersen – Winner

“Like Jake (Gagne) said, as a team, we kind of sat down and decided to go with the rains and it worked out. It definitely was the right choice. But it was just such a fun race. It’s really fun racing with JG (Gagne) when you know that nothing crazy is going to happen. Nobody is going to throw a shot at you that’s sketchy or dangerous. It was funny because literally, like Jake said, we locked eyes going down the straightaway. I looked into his eyes, and I just started cracking up. The team did an incredible job in the short amount of time they had, with getting the bike somewhat into a wet setting. Just a good day overall. Third win on the season. I think coming into this season, I only had three Superbike wins. So, super stoked to get that in one season. Just looking forward to tomorrow. Looking forward to a dry race. I’ve felt good all weekend here, so I think tomorrow should be a good one and a dogfight. Congrats to these two boys for being on the podium. Congrats to Xavi (Forés) on his first (MotoAmerica) Superbike podium. Let’s go get it tomorrow.”

Jake Gagne – Second Place

“The little sighting lap thing we had, it was already really sketchy. Just to kind of be safer, I thought it would be a good call. It was a tough call, but these bikes work really good in the rain. Like Xavi (Forés) said, it was only 10 aps, so even if it started drying, we could just burn up that tire. Fortunately for us, it kept raining. It got really, really tricky even on rains there at the end. Hats off to Cam (Petersen). It was fun racing him down to the wire again. Red flag caught me by surprise, too. I only saw his hand. But good day. Obviously, it’s been a tough couple races. To be back on the podium is good. One, two for the team is awesome. So, we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Xavi Forés – Third Place

“Honestly, when I saw the race distance was 10 laps, it was still light rain. I said, ‘We have to take the chance to go with wet.’ Also, I saw the guys (Petersen and Gagne) putting the rain tires and said, ‘Let’s do the same.’ It was not a very long-distance race. The track was a bit tricky at the beginning. If you got the chance to get the gap at the beginning with the rain tires, by the time they are catching you, the race is nearly finished. Then we had also a red flag. So, it was a little bit of a gamble, but we managed quite well. I was happy. The first part of the race, I tried to follow them, but I was taking so much risk. I was spinning a lot. We didn’t have the chance to go softer with the springs in the rear, so I said, let’s take this podium back home and get the feeling and start here. Tomorrow, maybe if it’s dry, we’re going to have another chance to stay in the top five. We made some good changes this weekend. I changed nearly the whole bike from yesterday to today. The pace is there, so I’m very happy. After Brainerd when I crashed, my shoulder is still not 100 percent. To be here on the podium is good. Pretty happy. Looking for more, for sure.”