2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship
Round 6 – Brainerd Raceway, Minnesota
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Honos Superbike Race
Jake Gagne made it 10 race wins in a row in the 2021 MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike Championship on Saturday, but this one was different. Gagne crashed and still managed to win the first AMA Superbike race held at BIR in 17 years.
Leading the race on the second lap, Gagne crashed in front of the pack and was stuck in the middle of the track as the field motored by on both sides. He finally ran to safety and, with his bike still on track, a red flag was thrown, stopping the race. Fortunately for Gagne, his Yamaha suffered only minor damage and he was able to ride back to the hot pit for repairs prior to the restart.
From there it was typical Gagne as he grabbed the lead and pulled away, ultimately besting M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong by 4.675 seconds to win his 10th race of the year and extending his championship points lead to 74 points. The win, which was also the 10th of his career, moves him into a tie with Mike Baldwin for 19th on the all-time AMA Superbike win list.
Jake Gagne – P1
“That was the highest my heart rate has probably been in a while. We sat on the grid for a long time both times. I know we were all kind of wondering what was going on. I know there was a crash on the warmup lap or the sighting lap. I saw the guy right next to me in the grass go flying by. So, that was just a weird start. I know all our tires were a little cold there at the beginning. I think with that quick of a heat fluctuation, you put so much heat in these tires in turn one and two especially, so from going that cool… I even spun the tire off the line, which I’ve never done in my life. I just lit it up. So, it was just weird. It caught me by surprise. I went into turn three and was barely on the gas. The thing came around on me and I just kept going. I was wondering if it was going to highside me. Luckily, it didn’t. I just kind of lowsided and then I’m sitting there in the middle of the track watching Superbikes fly at me. Luckily, everybody is looking ahead. We can see something is going on, so nothing bad happened. I’m just fortunate that that Yamaha slid. We bent a little lever. We had to mess around with the bars. The only thing that was wrong, we were just a little tweaked during the race, but it was totally fine. Hats off to the team because they hustled. We got that bike together right in the nick of time to get back out for pit lane. Again, thanks to Alpinestars for protecting me. I had a long slide, and the bike was really just sliding on top of me, so it was like digging my butt in the ground. We got a new suit on and went out there and did it again. So, I’m pumped I got another good start. I knew these guys were coming. Tomorrow will be another show. I know it’s tightening up every time. We’ve just got to keep doing our thing and focusing on our part.”
For Fong the race ended a podium drought that dates back to the very first race of the year at Road Atlanta in May. The battle for third was fought out between the two South Africans – Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen.
At the completion of the 15-lap race it was Scholtz grabbing third for his seventh podium of the year, though it still allowed Gagne to pull farther away in the title chase. Gagne now leads Scholtz by a whopping 74 points, 250-176. Petersen, meanwhile, made a big move to third in the championship, moving past Josh Herrin, who missed the race after testing positive for COVID-19.
Petersen held on for fourth, some 2.5 seconds behind Scholtz and 14.2 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Hector Barbera on the Scheibe Racing BMW.
JD Beach battled early in the race with Barbera but ended up sixth on the second Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha in his replacement ride for Herrin.
Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis was seventh and that put him at the top of the Superbike Cup, a class within a class for those riding Stock 1000-spec motorcycles in the HONOS Superbike race.
Franklin Armory/Andrew Lee Racing’s Andrew Lee was eighth on his Stock 1000-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R ahead of FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony and his teammate Bradley Ward with the Suzuki-mounted pair finishing ninth and 10th, respectively.
Notable among the non-finishers was Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz with the Frenchman crashing out of the race on the second lap with his Ducati Panigale V4 R too damaged to repair for the restart.