Road America is a special place for Jake Gagne. It's one of those places that just seems to click with him. Last year he pulled the double victory in the 600 class, but it wasn't just winning... He dominated the class. By turn one, from the start, he was already 10 bike lengths ahead. Some surfing metaphor about soul chasing would come in nicely when describing Jake's affinity for the Wisconsin circuit. This year it would be no different. Jake was going to show up, suit up and get to work putting everyone on notice that he's out for the championship.
With the current MotoAmerica weekend schedule, Superstock gets three full sessions of what can best be described as practice before Superpole. The first two of these practice sessions are held on Friday and this year for Road America, the first session was held under beautiful conditions while the afternoon session became a little racy. Jake accomplished a weekend high of 13 laps and was 0.6 seconds behind Taylor Knapp. With Jake though you know he's just going to continue to adapt and go faster. However, as it was mentioned earlier, faster wasn't possible once the afternoon weather rolled in and the track became soaked once the bands of rain came. Due to the uncertainty of the weather for the weekend and only being alloted three sets of Dunlop rain tires, the 32 Crew decided to be conservative in the afternoon and only test basic set-up and not worry about times or laps. After 4 laps, they were satisfied that they had the information they needed and so called it a day.
On Saturday morning it became pretty clear that the next practice and Superpole were going to be wet. The temperature had plummeted 40 degress from Friday and the winds became a factor on the long exposed sections of track. Again, believing that prudence and conservation were critical to accomplish a Superpole in the best possible manner, the guys only did a handful of laps and waited for the session. That session is the Superpole and Jake's time in the previous three sessions meant that we would be in the fast group competing for Pole Position. In the 15 minutes that he is given to grab the best possible starting position, the gamble that Jake and his crew made paid off with a P1 in his class and a P4 overall. Middle of the second row would be his start for Sunday's two races.
On Sunday morning, the team arrived at the track under blue skies and sunshine. The temp was not going get over 50? but at least the rain was gone and that meant a dry set-up was going to be needed. Now the 32 Crew needed to utilize all the available track time during their 20 minute morning warm-up to dial their Yamaha R1 in. And dial it in they did! Jake went out and set a pace that was almost two seconds faster than his nearest rival. Inspired, the guys waited for Race One.
We know full well that Jake can go fast around this track, but what wasn't really known was how would his Superstock Yamaha R1 stack up against the full factory supported superbikes. The Suzuki's are top speed monsters, the Yamaha's are razor sharp corner speed demons, but how would a Superstock fare against these two different machines? In previous rounds it's been almost a fair fight. But Road America is where having long legs pays dividends lap after lap. Despite getting a great start in Race One, Jake would find himself riding alone for most of the race. The factory Superbikes just kept pulling a tenth here and a tenth there to eventually pull out a major gap. Jake would cross the line in P1 in Superstock and P4 overall.
Normally, there's a whole new section detailing out the epic battles that Jake brought the riders in race two. However, this time it was an exact carbon copy of race one. Jake makes a phenomenal start to keep with the factory superbikes, but by 1/3 race distance he was losing sight of the lead group. Jake would continue to ride lap after lap as if he was being chased by hungry wolves. He would eventually repeat race one's result (P1 in class) and secure the double victory for the weekend. More importantly, now he stands 30 points clear in the Championship Standings. Jake and the 32 Crew are now focusing on Barber in a few weeks time and hopefully a more level playing field will allow him to stalk the superbikes a little better.