The home-state rookie shows his talent one year on from his Laguna Seca debut
It was not even a year ago that Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) made his first appearance on the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid. Whizzing by around WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca like a veteran, Gagne’s performances at his home track were impressive enough to secure the young rider a full-time position on a works bike.
Fast forward to 2018. The Californian has faced several challenges throughout the seven and a half rounds so far, and has sometimes struggled to match his teammate’s pace. But on his home-track return, the Honda rookie showed once again why he was granted an official Fireblade this season. Following a slow start on Friday and in the Superpole 1, Gagne pushed his pace up a gear in Race 1, showing confidence through all 25 laps and earning himself a first top-10 finish in WorldSBK.
The American was pleased after the race-end: “I’m happy, I think we’ve got a good direction for tomorrow. The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has been awesome, the crew’s been working really hard this weekend. I’ve been learning a lot from these guys. We’ve just got to keep the progress going and hopefully we can do the same thing but a little better tomorrow”.
It was a day of two-halves for Gagne, with the 2010 Red Bull Rookies champion struggling in Superpole 1, before finding pace in the race: “Qualifying wasn’t too good, I made some mistakes and got my best lap cancelled. I got off to a good start though from way back there and had a good first couple of laps. We ran into a couple of little issues. I had a little shifter problem, and that made things tough on us, but to come home with a top-10 was awesome”.
“I think for sure we can have a stronger race tomorrow”, Gagne promises. “We can make a couple of little tweaks to the bike, keep working hard on my riding, hopefully not run into any issues. Obviously, we want to improve on tenth, that’s always the goal, and be a little bit closer to those guys up front and the next group of guys”.
What’s in store for the American rookie on Sunday at Laguna Seca? Find out if the home hero can return to the top-10 in Race 2 from 14:00 local time (21:00 GMT) thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.