RoadRace Factory Race Report from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Take One: A Return to Form

| 16 August 2015 8:45 am

Round 8:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Courtesy of RoadRace Factory
Photos by GeoCrash Photography

What’s the best way to get over less-than-perfect results? Get back out on the track, dominate every session, and then pull off the double. That is exactly what Jake Gagne did this past weekend in front of the international racing community.

Jake Gagne (32) at speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jake Gagne (32) at speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Coming into the penultimate round of the MotoAmerica Series, Jake Gagne was still leading the championship points race, but after some unfortunate races at Miller Motorsports Park and Laguna Seca, his lead had dwindled considerably. He would need to set the tone early and put his rivals on notice that if they wanted to catch him in the points chase, they’d have to work for it.

With only four races left in the season, there was an outside chance of Gagne’s capturing the championship should things go sideways for his challengers. However, Jake is not one to think of championships before they are sealed. His goal is to win races and let the chips fall where they may.

Jake Gagne (32) was going to make his opponents work had in Indianapolis.

Jake Gagne (32) was going to make his opponents work had in Indianapolis.

From the onset of the weekend, it was clear that Gagne was on task. In the free practice sessions, he would be the dominant Superstock rider. The only real wild card would be the weather. It was raining for the first practice session, while it was projected that the rest of the weekend would be clear, except for late on Sunday, when the second race was scheduled. But even in the rain, Jake was doing his thing and his bike was performing exceptionally well. When Jake came in from the final practice session, he was very happy with how everything was going and he was eager to get to Superpole.

Superpole is where it counts, and late on Friday afternoon, it was time to go all in. Jake went out and swept the class during the 25-minute session. He used that time to ensure that all the setup tweaks were up to par. The session ended and Jake was firmly planted on top of the leader board. His challengers had been officially notified. Unlike the Supersport class, the Superstock and Superbike classes were given their full allotment of track time and two races. So, after Friday’s Superpole, there would be a quick warm-up on Saturday morning, followed by race one in the late afternoon. Sunday would the same, with race two after the MotoGP event.

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As Saturday morning’s warm-up session began, it was clear that the day was going to be a beautiful, sunny Indiana day.

Jake got off to a great start and was flying around the track and locking in the efforts of his 32Crew. The hours between the warm-up and the race had been spent preparing mentally for the race ahead. Normal weekends don’t allow for much wondering, so the trick was to remain focused during the distraction that the MotoGP circus can provide. Jake isn’t your typical racer, however, and his ability to get mentally ready while appearing to be laid back is very curious. So when the late afternoon sun was dipping behind the bleachers, Jake was suited up and ready to race without any distractions.

As Gagne lined up on his grid position, it was business as usual, and his relaxed demeanor was a sign of his confidence that everything was exactly as it should be. Horns were sounded, the grid was cleared, and race one was about to get under way.

The lights went off, and the sound of uncorked 1000cc machines brought the fans to life.

For the first several laps, the Superbikes didn’t make much progress in their efforts to pull away from Jake; he was hanging on their tail sections as the opening laps clicked off. His main rivals were fighting among themselves, leaving Jake to focus on keeping the Superbikes in touch.

Jake Gagne won the first Superstock race, despite a small problem that popped up…

Jake Gagne won the first Superstock race, despite a small problem that popped up…

At about the halfway mark of the race, Jake was noticeably losing most of the rest of the pack, and he soon found himself riding alone.

When the checkers fell and Gagne crossed the line, he was in first place in Superstock and fifth overall.

Pulling into parc ferme, it was obvious what had caused his issues in the race: His tire had spun almost 180 degrees on the rim. This caused a massive vibration that eventually made the bike unsettled when applying power.

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The issues of Saturday were rectified on Sunday, and going into race two, Jake and his crew were even more confident that he would be able to stay with the Superbikes. Again, just focusing on the task of winning races, Jake wasn’t concerned about anything other than getting back out on track and putting in the laps.

Race two was to be held under uncertain weather conditions. There was a chance of rain, and at times the sprinkles were heavy enough to coat the track surface. The race was declared to be dry, however, and so slicks were fitted to his bike, and it was time to hit the bricks to grid up. As the lights went out, the weather was still anyone’s guess.

Jake put his head down and kept pace with the lead Superbikes during the first few laps.

Jake Gagne (32) also won the second Superstock race, despite the fact that the “dry” race turned out to be not so dry.

Jake Gagne (32) also won the second Superstock race, despite the fact that the “dry” race turned out to be not so dry.

By the midpoint of the race, the rain had become more heavy in certain areas of the track, but there was still a dry line, so the race continued. Jake would eventually find himself running a solitary race again. With two laps to go, the race was red-flagged due to rain. That sealed Jake’s double victory for the weekend. He had clearly accomplished his goals, and the chips are beginning to not just fall but align themselves into a championship…

Jake Gagne took the center step on the podium to celebrate his double victory.

Jake Gagne took the center step on the podium to celebrate his double victory.

Jake Gagne is still first in the Superstock points chase.

Jake Gagne is still first in the Superstock points chase.

“First of all, the track was awesome!” Gagne enthused. “It had been a few years since I had been here, but I really like the new layout. The bike felt great right away, but we made a few changes throughout the weekend and qualified on pole.

“In the first race, I got off to a pretty good start and [I was] keeping the Superbike guys in sight for the first few laps, but then we ran into the issue with the tire spinning on the rim, and that caused some chatter. Still brought it home in first.

“Second race was an even better start for me,” he continued. “It was pretty much sprinkling the whole time, but I got a good gap over the second-place Superstock guy and rode my own race from then on. Two laps to go and Mother Nature decided to call the race quits and the red flag came out. I’d say it was the right call, as it was getting pretty sketchy out there.

“So – a double victory was great!” he concluded. “I want to thank Scotty [Jensen] and D.A. [Danny Anderson] and all the guys for their hard work this weekend, and I’m looking forward to New Jersey!”

Team manager Danny Walker.

Team manager Danny Walker.

“There isn’t a whole lot to say about this weekend and Jake’s performance,” said Team manager Danny Walker. “I mean, it was like watching him return to his best form. It’s exactly what we know he’s capable of, and it’s just fun to watch. I know he gives Scotty and D.A. fits, because he’ll tell you everything was okay or [say there was] a minor chatter issue, but then you notice his tire did a 180 on the rim. He can just ride around most things that would cause another rider to pull in.

“For Jake to come back here and ride like he did,” Walker added, “I think he took full advantage of the opportunity to showcase his talent in front of the MotoGP paddock and an international audience that hasn’t seen him since his Red Bull Rookie Cup days. Between his performance at COTA and here, he raised some eyebrows!

“Huge congratulations to Jake and Scotty and Danny – these three have just clicked, and I can’t say enough good things about them,” Walker summed up. “Now it’s time to switch gears and tires and hit the Outdoor National Motocross next weekend in Utah. Looking forward to this new experience, and then it’s time to recover before heading to NJMP in September.”

[For more from this event, please see “RoadRace Factory Race Report from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Take Two: Highs and Lows from the Brickyard”… Editor]

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