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RoadRace Factory Race Report from MotoAmerica Round Three, Take Two: SuperStock

| 22 May 2015 2:03 pm

MotoAmerica
Round 3: Virginia International Raceway

Courtesy of RoadRace Factory
Photos by GeoCrash Photography
DANVILLE, VA, MAY 15-17, 2015

Jake Gagne made his return to Virginia International Raceway in memorable fashion! Being a surfer, he is certainly used to the ebb and flow of progress, the crests and troughs, as he reads the ocean, waiting for just the right wave. As his performance this past weekend would show, he can take a bad breaker, rebound, and ride the perfect wave to victory. Likewise, his crew would show the entire paddock yet again that they are the best in the business.

Jake Gagne (32) made his return to Virginia International Raceway a memorable one.

Jake Gagne (32) made his return to Virginia International Raceway a memorable one.

The SuperStock schedule provides the riders with three free practice sessions in which to nail down their setups, and Gagne and his crew are not ones to waste any time. Jake was struggling through a few sections where he was fast, but not sustainable over a race distance. With the help of team manager and coach Danny Walker, he sat down with Scott Jensen and discussed the lines and how the bike is feeling through those sections. With the help of Penske, the crew got the bike dialed in, and Jake was able to make full use of his SuperStock machine.

Jake Gagne (32) riding the waves of motorsport...

Jake Gagne (32) riding the waves of motorsport…

As Superpole approached, Gagne was confident that he could place his machine on the top spot and maybe even grab another front-row start. He was on pace to do just that, and another all-Yamaha front row was within sight, but a blistering last lap by Roger Hayden relegated Gagne to fourth overall, though still first in his class.

Jake Gagne (32) waiting for the racing to begin.

Jake Gagne (32) waiting for the racing to begin.

Race one on Sunday was set among the beautiful backdrop that is VIR. The riders on the grid were excited to get racing under such ideal conditions, having battled rain at the previous two rounds.

When the lights went out and the field rushed to turn one, Gagne was well placed in the top five. He wasn’t allowing the Superbikes to get away without a fight.

As he entered the uphill right-hand turn seven a few laps later, he tucked the front end and went off into the grass. He got the bike restarted and got it back to the pits.

This is where the nation got to see what teamwork is really all about.

Before the bike had even stopped, Scotty and Danny Anderson were over the wall, assessing the damage. The entire RoadRace Factory crew was on hand to assist, and everyone performed a flawless ballet to get the bike and Gagne back up and running before the restart.

Jake Gagne (32) recovered from his off-track excursion to take over the lead on the restart – only to discover his woes were not over…

Jake Gagne (32) recovered from his off-track excursion to take over the lead on the restart – only to discover his woes were not over…

On the restart, Gagne made massive strides back toward the front of the pack again. He was back up into position one in SuperStock when the real damage from the crash surfaced: A damaged clutch would bring his race to an end one lap before the checkers flew.

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Race two was a few hours later in the day, and that gave the team some time to make all the needed repairs. When Gagne lined back up on the grid, his bike was in mint condition.

Jake is something of a rarity. He doesn’t get bothered by what has happened earlier or by pressure from points chases. He’s just out there to ride the bike as fast as he can, and he genuinely has fun doing it. So as race two got under way, Jake was once again right there up front and giving fits to the Superbike riders. This time, the race would contain no real drama for the crew, as Gagne put on a master class of riding to capture his fourth victory in six races.

Jake Gagne (center) hefts his hard-won hardware high after winning race two.

Jake Gagne (center) hefts his hard-won hardware high after winning race two.

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Jake Gagne leads the SuperStock series points chase.

Jake Gagne leads the SuperStock series points chase.

“I hadn’t been to VIR since 2008, in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, so I was really excited to get back,” Gagne reported. “It’s a fun and challenging track to get around fast.

“Practice and qualifying went well,” he continued, “as Scotty, Danny and Penske had the bike working great. I was bummed about my little mistake, crashing out in race one, but it was amazing to see the entire team come together to get the bike ready to go for the restart. Unfortunately, we had a clutch problem and couldn’t bring it home. But to rebound in race two with a win was perfect. One of my favorite tracks is up next, so I’m ready to roll into Wisconsin next week!”

“Jake is nothing if not fun to watch!” enthused team manager Danny Walker. “I was out on track, watching his lines, and just kept saying, ‘How is he doing that?!’ But I was also able to see some areas where he could take a different line and improve. We sat down with Scotty and talked about it, and next thing we know, he’s flying around this track.

Team manager Danny Walker.

Team manager Danny Walker.

“He’s liked it here since the Red Bull Rookies Cup,” Walker continued, “and we knew he’d play a major role in the mixed-class races. He qualified up front again and was looking to take it to the Superbikes. But sometimes in racing, things go sideways. He recovered and brought the bike back to the pits, where we all saw just how great this team works together! I cannot say enough how impressed I was to see every man over the wall working together to get Jake’s bike back out there for the restart. That shows me that I have the best crew in the paddock, for sure! Kind of sucks that there was damage to the clutch that we couldn’t diagnose before the restart, and he wasn’t able to finish race one. That’s two DNFs, so race two had to be perfect…

“It was! Jake has the ability to shake things off quickly, and man, once the lights went out, he was off! He took that race win in a dominant fashion.

“We head now to Road America, which is one of Jake’s best tracks,” Walker concluded. “I’m dying to see how he does on this big bike around that circuit. Should be entertaining!”

[For more from the Supersport portion of this event, please see “RoadRace Factory Race Report from MotoAmerica Round Three, Take One: Supersport” … Editor]

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