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RoadRace Factory Race Report from Barber Motorsports Park, Take Two: SuperStock – Double Vision for Gagne in Alabama

| 19 June 2015 2:26 pm

MotoAmerica
Round 5: Barber Motorsports Park

Courtesy of RoadRace Factory
Photos by GeoCrash Photography
BIRMINGHAM, AL, JUNE 12-14, 2015

First or Last. Zero to Hero. Win it or Bin it. Whatever the catchy phrase you choose to describe Jake Gagne’s season so far, you won’t be wrong.

Jake Gagne (32) at speed at Barber Motorsports Park.

Jake Gagne (32) at speed at Barber Motorsports Park.

Coming off the stellar double win at Road America in conditions that would turn LN2 into a solid (nerds will love that reference), would Jake be able to keep his “First or Last” streak intact? Would the heat and humidity become a factor as he seeks the championship? It’s still too early to tell what’s going to happen, but with a 100-percent finish-to-win ratio, Jake and the “32 Crew” are putting the entire MotoAmerica paddock on notice. Barber Motorsports Park would be the stage of another brilliant demonstration of their ability to prepare a motorcycle and ride it to perfection.

Round four of the series saw Jake pull off the double victory in conditions that were, to put it mildly, less than ideal. On this weekend, the weather was going to be an issue as well, only this time it would be heat and humidity rather than cold and rain. But Jake loves Barber Motorsports Park, and on this track, the Superbikes wouldn’t have such a big advantage, as there are no really long straights on which they could escape. Jake would be able to keep them in sight, and his hope was to be in a position to take a top-three-overall spot. You know, just because it would be cool.

Well, that was almost a reality from the get-go. Finally, the 32 Crew was able to get a full complement of laps in during the three open practice sessions. Jake showed his speed from the first laps, as he was circulating within the top three overall and even capturing the quickest section times in two of the five sections.

During the first free practice, Jake put his Superstock R1 in second overall. It was looking really good for him and his quest to beat the Superbikes outright. However, as the weekend went on and the practice sessions continued, Jake would find himself out of the top three spots overall, though he maintained his dominance over the Superstock class.

It wasn’t as if he had perfect sessions, either. Jake had a minor slip exiting the Museum Corner, and that caused his crew to make some repairs – nothing Scotty and Danny couldn’t take care of before qualifying. However, during Saturday’s Superpole qualifying, Jake’s R1 Superstock mount suffered a mechanical failure, and on his backup bike he would be unable to improve his times. Jake ended up qualifying in sixth overall and second in Superstock.

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Race one was set to go off on time on Sunday afternoon. It was scheduled to be a 23-lap race under the blue Alabama sky. After the grid was cleared and the riders returned from their sighting lap, it was all business. All eyes were on the lights, and when they went out, it was a thunderous symphony as the field headed into turn one.

Superbike rider Cameron Beaubier cleared out and was miles ahead by the second lap, it seemed, but Jake was tucked in line right behind the Superbikes of Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis.

Gagne would stalk Lewis for much of the race, and it was looking promising that he would be able to stay with him and make a move to hunt down Roger Hayden. Cameron then had an off-track excursion, leaving Josh Hayes in the lead and moving Jake Gagne to fourth overall, still right behind Jake Lewis. Within a lap, Gagne had made his move and passed Jake Lewis for third overall.

Gagne was able to pull a small gap as the laps clicked down, and suddenly a red flag was waving and the race was stopped. Would there be a restart? Would Gagne have to do it all over again?

No! The race was officially called, as 15 of the 23 laps had been completed, and Jake Gagne was awarded first in Superstock and third overall. Remember, it’s Jake: He just wants to beat everyone else on the track. So, mission accomplished – and it was on to race two in a few hours’ time.

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Race two was shortened due to the time it took to clear the track from the red-flag incident in race one. This actually gave the team and riders more time to cool off and allowed the track temperature to drop just a bit. As riders gridded up for race two, the anticipation was palpable. Could Jake pull of another top three overall? We’d soon find out, as the lights went off and again the field charged around the track, aggressively jockeying for positions.

Jake Gagne (32) got off to another great start in race two.

Jake Gagne (32) got off to another great start in race two.

Another great start meant that Gagne was on the tail pipe of the factory Superbikes for the first several laps, but by midrace he was left to struggle with keeping pace with Roger Hayden, who was in third overall. Gagne found himself unable to close the distance, and with the heat wearing on him, he rode a smart race and brought his R1 home in fourth overall and with another victory in the Superstock class.

Eight victories in 10 races. If he finishes a race, it’s in first place. First or last, the Ripper does it again! What will Miller Motorsports Park bring? We’ll find out in a little over a week…

Once again, Jake Gagne took the top step of the SuperStock podium.

Once again, Jake Gagne took the top step of the SuperStock podium.

Jake Gagne is still on top of the SuperStock points tally.

Jake Gagne is still on top of the SuperStock points tally.

“I was really stoked to get back to Barber, especially being on the Superstock 1000 this time around,” Gagne declared. “Practice went well, as Scotty and D.A. had the R1 working really good pretty much straight off the truck. We had a little motor mishap during qualifying, but Scotty and D.A. got a new motor in her overnight and we were feeling solid for race day.

“I was really happy with race one,” he continued, “because we managed to stay within a couple seconds of the leading Superbikes, and got the Superstock win as well.

“Race two, we managed another win and pulled the double. The heat made it a tough couple of races, but I rode my butt off every lap and was really pleased with what we pulled off.

“Roll on, Miller!”

Team manager Danny Walker

Team manager Danny Walker

“I’m kind of running out of things to say about Jake and his crew,” team manager Danny Walker confessed. “I mean, it seems this year, it’s been Hero to Zero, then back to Hero all weekend long, every weekend so far. I’m not complaining at all; it’s just a roller-coaster ride.

“We knew at tracks like Barber Motorsports Park and Laguna we’d be able to keep touch with the Superbikes and that a top three overall was a possibility,” he explained. “Jake proved it this weekend. I try to tell him to calm down and we don’t get anything extra for beating Superbikes, but Jake just wants to win so badly, he doesn’t care what class is in front of him, he just wrings the bike’s neck until the checkers fly.

“We had an issue that wasn’t expected with the motor that had us scratching our heads” Walker admitted, “but Scotty and D.A. were able to put that behind them and really rebuild Jake’s bike into another powerhouse. They stayed up ’til 1 a.m. working on the bike, and when Jake got on it for warm-ups, it was perfect. Another double win and another awesome display by Jake and his guys – what more can I say other than, ‘Wow!’”

[For more from the Supersport portion of this event, please see “RoadRace Factory Race Report from Barber Motorsports Park, Take One: Supersport in the Alabama Heat”… Editor]

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