A Discussion With MotoAmerica’s Superbike Sensation
Jake Gagne has won every race he has finished in the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike championship, in dominating fashion. His string of seven consecutive victories astride his Fresh N Lean Attack Performance Yamaha R1 has him standing firmly atop the Superbike points race. He’s drawing comparisons to five-time MotoAmerica Superbike champ Cameron Beaubier, even as Jake smashes lap records set by his predecessor. Man and machine are truly dialed in with each other, as evidenced by Jake’s mastery so far this season. He’s riding like we’ve never seen him ride before.
At The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington, Jake made some time for a one-on-one interview with Road Dirt, during one of the hottest weekends on record in the Pacific Northwest. A fan favorite both on and off the bike, Jake gave us some insights into his personal life these days, his perspective on his current hot streak, and how he keeps focused in a highly competitive race class.
Jake Gagne distanced himself from the pack, both days. Photos by Geoff Nickless.
You recently moved to Colorado. How has the move gone for you?
“It’s awesome. It’s always a little hard to leave your home town. I love San Diego but it’s gotten more crowded over the years and I wanted to make a change. I spent 28 years in the same place and I wanted to try something different so I was like ‘I’ll try Colorado.’ I spent some time there over the years riding with Road Race Factory and it just kind of worked out. I got rid of my place in San Diego and made it happen in February. It happened in the off season so it was kind of a scramble, but it ended up coming together perfectly. It’s nice to be in the mountains with lots of hiking and mountain biking. It’s cool to be up there training at altitude because you come back down and you are ready to go.”
You had time to observe Cameron Beaubier during his winning streak. Did you learn a lot by watching him?
“Yeah, totally. I got to be good friends with Cameron last year. Obviously we raced each other but because we got to hang out in the truck (they were teammates) we became really great friends and I always loved and respected the guy and know how awesome he is. I have worked more on smoothing out my riding style, being a little more gentle and not fighting the bike as much because I was doing that last year. Especially with this Yamaha R1. It wants to be ridden smooth and gentle and easier on the inputs. Just basically trying to smooth out my riding style. We all saw Cam and how smooth and buttery he looked last year so I think we are trying to move my style more towards that, because I have always been more on the extreme side and trying to get too much out of it.”
Ted and Jake chatting at the Fresh N Lean Attack Performance Yamaha tent. Photos by Geoff Nickless.
It’s been said that the only thing harder than getting to the top is staying on top. How do you maintain your mental focus during a winning streak?
“If anything it gives me confidence. Going into a race we know what we want to do, as long as we execute the plan, do the times we want to do and get a good start. We’ve been really happy that we have been able to do that since Road Atlanta. I’m not thinking about how many wins we are going to get or the championship even. Every day is a new day, so I just think about each day as it comes. Today (Saturday) I think we are just going out and try to win this thing and tomorrow is another new day.” (Jake snagged wins both days at The Ridge, again in dominating fashion.)
What do you ride when you are not racing?
“Since moving to Colorado I haven’t ridden much motocross. In the past I’ve always ridden motocross mainly because I love it. Obviously its great training but I’ve kind of steered away from it. Last year I was dealing with some little injuries here and there and it can take a toll on your body. As I’ve felt good on this (pointing to his R1), this year I haven’t ridden much motocross. Switching back and forth between different types of riding is something I’ve always done but maybe I’m trying to be a bit more of a road racer and push back the moto stuff a little bit. Especially as I get older. I’ve been riding my mountain bike, working out and running but not as much motocross.”
Here’s the audio of the interview, track ambience and all.
What comes next for Jake Gagne?
“We are thinking about one day at a time, hopefully a win here this afternoon. Obviously our goal is to win this championship. What happens after that, I don’t know. If we can pull that off and come back to defend it next year that would be great. Here in MotoAmerica, this is the place I want to be. The Yamaha team is like home. They have treated me really well over the years and so after all of the years of riding for Yamaha-supported teams it’s really great to be with Yamaha officially. They run an amazing program so I’m happy that I’m here now and we will try to win this thing this year.”
Jake has always been such a fierce competitor on track, yet such a kind, friendly soul off track. We first met him in 2019 at Road Atlanta, followed and reported on his season that year, and have enjoyed conversations with him ever since. We wish him all the best the rest of this race season.
For more on the 2021 MotoAmerica race season, upcoming races, tickets, how to tune in and more, click here:
*Cover photo by MotoAmerica/Brian J. Nelson
*Be sure to check out Ted & Rob’s conversation about the race weekend here, without even leaving this page: