Saturday’s MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike race was held in a rainstorm at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and it was a race that Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha’s Jake Gagne didn’t need to win. But he did. Because he could. And that’s what Gagne does.
The three-time MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion won his 11th race of the season and the 40th Superbike race of his career in horrible conditions at NJMP. He won by a tick over 16 seconds and in the same manner as the majority of his other 39 wins. He led off the line, led into turn one, gapped the field quickly and maintained his lead to the finish of the 16-lapper that was shortened due to the inclement weather.
Gagne’s victory came over his teammate-of-late, JD Beach. Beach, who is filling in for the injured Cameron Petersen, was in the top four throughout the race and took advantage of crashes, off-track excursions and a penalty given to Tytlers Cycle Racing’s PJ Jacobsen after the New Yorker made a pass on Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Josh Herrin under a waving yellow flag.
When the dust (or mud) had settled, Beach was second with Jacobsen being dropped to fourth with the penalty.
While the Tytlers Cycle Racing team saw their lead rider dropped from second to fourth, they also got to enjoy the polar opposite with Jacobsen’s teammate Corey Alexander earning the first MotoAmerica Superbike podium of his career. Alexander was steady and fast and ended up some four seconds adrift of Beach and ahead of Jacobsen.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fifth on the track, but sixth in the official results after being penalized for punting Herrin off the track while passing the Ducati rider for fifth. Scholtz had already remounted after crashing out of third place in what was an eventful afternoon for the South African.
Seventh place went to Benjamin Smith Racing’s Benjamin Smith, who was 10 seconds clear of Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim.
Tom Woods Powersports’ Nolan Lamkin and Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Stefano Mesa rounded out the top 10.
Notable non finishers included Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch and Aftercare Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates. Paasch crashed out of the race in the fast last corner with Yates suffering a mechanical failure.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante had his worst finish of the season in 11th. Ditto for Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong, who was 13th.
Superbike Race 1
- Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Corey Alexander (BMW)
- PJ Jacobsen (BMW)
- Josh Herrin (Ducati)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- Benjamin Smith (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
- Nolan Lamkin (BMW)
- Stefano Mesa (BMW)
Jake Gagne – Winner
“A lot of little moments, for sure. It was sketchy. This morning we had that session and it felt really good, really solid, but just this little bit of extra rain we got before the race. I almost crashed in the first left-hander in turn 3B in the lead on the first lap. Just pushed the front. Then I kind of calmed down. I was so focused on just hitting my marks that I didn’t even look at the pit board for a while, and then I kind of saw that plus two. Then there was that lap where I’d get reeled in and then it was just back and forth. So, I was trying to just hit my marks. It was really easy to crash today. I think we saw quite a bit of them today. It was just one of those days where if you could get a little offline, like JD (Beach) said, in a puddle, you were down quick. But I’m happy riding this Yamaha. I had a lot of fun riding out there. A couple good moments, little moments. I just hit my marks. Congrats to JD and Corey (Alexander). These guys up on the podium, they deserve it. I could see both Corey and JD. There’s a section of the track like (turn) 10 where I could see them. The last half of the race, the last five laps, they were in the same spot every time. I was still pushing, so they had a good pace. I think everybody probably learned a lot today. I think it will be closer tomorrow. It seems like every time we come to this place we get some crazy weather. So, I’m happy that we pulled home a win. Last race of the season tomorrow, so just try to have fun and enjoy it and hopefully have a good battle with these guys. I think everybody wants to get that last one, so it will be fun.”
JD Beach – Second Place
“When I’m with a guy out there it definitely helps because I think one thing for me, I like to be able to get my knee down but being so short, I’m stretching to try and do that. But when I got a guy in front of me, I kind of pick my eyes up a bit more and just roll through the turns better. It was definitely a hard race. This track in the rain is no joke. There’re so many slick spots. It’s weird because it will hold water in a few spots and then as the race goes on, it’s almost like the water gets pushed to a new spot. So, you’re kind of looking for the line all the time. You think it would start to dry out, but the water just gets pushed around. To get on the podium again as a fill-in rider is awesome. To be up here with Jake (Gagne) is great, and to see Corey (Alexander) get on the box is great too. I know he said that his titles might have asterisks on them, but on that day he’s racing against the best guys in that class. So, a title is a title. It doesn’t matter. To be on the box with two guys that have won titles in the last two seasons in great.”
Corey Alexander – Third Place “I had no idea until I rolled in over here (that he’d finished third). I actually stopped to talk to James Rispoli really quick to give him some info about the track before his race. He was like, ‘I think you were third.’ I was like, ‘No, man, I was fourth. I was close, but I was fourth.’ Then they pulled me into the podium. Definitely a good surprise, for sure. I wasn’t expecting that one. I always seem to surprise myself in the rain somehow. Today more so than others. My first career win was in the rain, a long time ago now. I said to my mechanic before we rolled out and he was like, ‘This is going to be fun, huh?’ Like real sarcastic. I was like, ‘It’s all right. We’ve been here before.’ Usually in the rain somehow my riding style clicks with it. It takes me a little bit to get going, but once I get going, I get pretty comfortable. Felt really good towards the end. I knew I couldn’t catch JD (Beach) on those last couple laps. I was pushing and he was coming back to me. I wasn’t ready to take as big enough of a risk to really reel him in as I needed to. The tires were starting to get a little bit shot and I was losing the rear in a couple spots. I was very content with fourth place. That would have been a very good place for me to finish. I was happy enough with that. I was celebrating like it was a podium for fourth, and I would have celebrated a lot harder if I knew it was a podium. But it is what it is. Super happy to be up here. Like I said on the podium, anybody who has kind of been in my inner circle knows how hard these last few races have been for me. I haven’t been having much fun, honestly. So, to do this for my guys that are working so hard and just everybody that supports me personally, it’s nice to pay them back with something at least before the year is over.”