Yamaha Rider Dominates the MotoAmerica Weekend at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, WI – Cameron who? Okay, maybe it’s a bit early to say that Jake Gagne is reminding us an awful lot of 5x MotoAmerica champ Cameron Beaubier, but let’s go ahead and say it: Jake Gagne is reminding us an awful lot of 5x MotoAmerica champ Cameron Beaubier.
Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Gagne won his fifth consecutive HONOS Superbike race Sunday at the famous Road America circuit, the Californian sweeping the two races in Wisconsin after doing the same a few weeks ago at VIRginia International Raceway. To say he is on a roll (pun intended) would be a gross understatement.
Like he did Saturday and in the three races prior, Gagne got the holeshot from pole position into turn one, fought off an early attack from M4 ECSTAR Suzuki of Cameron Petersen then never gave up the lead. Gagne’s second lap was as hot as the Wisconsin sun, a 2:10.998, while Petersen clicked off a 2:12.114.
From there Gagne ripped off a handful of 2:11s that put him well clear of Petersen, who in turn had worked his way into a solid second place – a spot he would hold to the finish for a career-best Superbike finish, a day after the South African earned his first Superbike podium in Saturday’s race one.
Jake Gagne ran away from the pack both days, leaving Cam Petersen struggling just to keep him in sight.
Photos by Ryan Nolan.
“I had to,” Gagne replied when asked if he’d made any changes to his race-winning Yamaha YZF-R1 from Saturday. “I know these guys are coming. We brought the bike off the truck on Friday, and it was working really well, but we know these guys are gunning for us. I knew everybody would be faster on Sunday. Everybody learns a lot in race one throughout those laps… Even today, two hours before the race they (his team) had to swap a motor out of nowhere, so these guys are just hustling and hustling and hustling and they’re not making mistakes. I’m just trying to do my part, put the bike where it wants to be.”
Petersen had a stellar weekend, finishing third in race one and second in race two. “Midway through the race I did a couple low 12s and he (Gagne) was still getting away from me,” Petersen observed. “So there’s something that we need to find, all of us, the whole grid. Jake’s definitely got something special at the moment. Just super stoked to get two podiums this weekend. Road America has got a special place in my heart. Super cool to get my first podium here and then to back it up the next day is even that much more special.”
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz finished third, the South African barely holding off Bobby Fong after the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider had finally rid himself of Gagne’s teammate Josh Herrin. Scholtz crossed the finish line just .004 of a second ahead of Fong, with Herrin taking fifth.
Mathew Scholtz took the third podium spot on Sunday, as Gagne claimed the double for the weekend.
Photos by Ryan Nolan.
Harley-Davidson Sweeps the Podium in King of the Baggers
Round two of the 2021 Mission King Of The Baggers Championship took place Sunday at Road America, and in the home state of Harley-Davidson, the Motor Company swept the podium. Harley-Davidson factory rider Kyle Wyman started from the pole and led every lap of the race all the way to the checkered flag. Mission Foods S&S Cycle Indian Challenger-mounted Tyler O’Hara was in hot pursuit of Wyman for most of the race until he was sidelined with a mechanical issue, which handed second place to Wyman’s brother Travis, who was just announced earlier last week as Kyle’s teammate on the H-D factory team. Third place went to Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Hayden Gillim.
“It’s amazing,” Wyman exclaimed following the race. “We got (Harley-Davidson’s) Bill Davidson congratulating me in victory lane. The who’s-who of the Motor Company is here. I think they gave away 200 tickets to employees this weekend. There are people that came out specifically just to watch this race, so to get it done here in Harley’s backyard is just an incredible feeling. Those guys deserve it. They work so hard. Harley has put a pretty large number of people on this project full-time. They were told, ‘Look, this is racing. You don’t punch out at 5 o’clock.’ Those guys are putting in the hours and putting in the extra time, and it’s all paying off. It’s amazing also to have my brother finish second.”
The flying Wyman brothers on their Harley-Davidson beasts. Photos by Steve Groth.
A Wild Weekend in Supersport
Saturday’s Supersport race one witnessed a wild battle between 2020 champ Richie Escalante and series rival (as well as current points leader) Sean Dylan Kelly. The two swapped the the lead (and some paint) about 35 times until on the last lap, in the tight downhill left curve that is turn 5, Kelly lowsided out followed immediately by Escalanate, both riders tumbling into the gravel trap. Both jumped up, got their bikes restarted and successfully rejoined the race, Escalante finishing 5th with Kelly taking 6th. Our Road Dirt photographers captured the surprising crash trackside-
Incredible crash sequence by Road Dirt’s Gerard Saraber in Saturday’s Supersport race.
Sunday was a different story. HONOS HVMC Racing’s Escalante returned to form in race two and showed why he wears the number 1 plate on his Kawasaki. With M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly starting from pole, Escalante overtook Kelly on the opening lap, stretched his lead throughout the 11-lap race, and took the checkers by nearly 10 seconds over Kelly, who finished in 2nd place. 3rd place in race two went to Saturday’s surprise winner Stefano Mesa aboard his MESA37Racing Kawasaki.
Escalante back in dominating form by Sunday’s race two. Photo by Gerard Saraber.
Stock 1000 Bringing Exciting Racing
Amidst a full grid in the growing class, Road America polesitter Geoff May looked very strong in the early going aboard his Geoff May Racing VisionWheel.com Honda. It’s early days for May with his all-new-for-2021 motorcycle, and as the race progressed, the lack of seat time and also time to manipulate the electronics on the bike conspired against him. Altus Motorsports Suzuki rider Jake Lewis overtook May and went on to win his second race of the season. While May held on to finish second, HONOS HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander raced his Kawasaki to third place to round out the podium in this popular and thrilling race class.
“In the race, the bike was really good. Got a really good start,” Lewis recalled. “I knew it was going to be six laps, so it was a sprint race pretty much. Geoff got out front and, luckily, he set sail, because I think that kind of broke up the pack a lot. I thought there was just going to be five or six of us dive-bombing each other on the brakes. I just kept my head down and slowly reeled in Geoff. Then there for two laps I got a really good draft on him and looked at a TV going into turn one because I didn’t know if we split the pack or not and saw Corey. So I just kept my head down.”
Stock 1000 podium finishers Geoff May, Jake Lewis and Corey Alexander. Lewis would overtake May for the checkered. Photo by Steve Groth.
A Photo Finish in Junior Cup
Sunday’s SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race featured one of the best battles of the day. In the class where drafting is such a key strategy, the three frontrunners were locked in a heated battle. Scott Powersports KTM rider Tyler Scott was the first of the triumvirate to take his turn in the lead, while Veloce Racing’s Max Toth and Rodio Racing’s Gus Rodio kept themselves in the mix. The result at the stripe was a photo finish with Rodio nipping Scott by .024 of a second, and Scott beating Toth by .022 of a second. For Rodio, it was his first career MotoAmerica victory and highlighted his comeback from the broken femur that he suffered in a crash at Ridge Motorsports Park in 2020.
Rodio looked to be in a perfect position on the final run up the hill to the checkers, but he didn’t think so.
“To be honest,” he said, “I thought I was in a worse position leading in the last corner, but there was nothing I could do at that point. I wasn’t going to just let everyone pass me. So, I was kind of happy when Tyler (Scott) went past me. It gave me the perfect draft for the line. So, I’m pleased with where I was.”
Junior Cup would come down to a photo finish between these three riders- Rodio (96), Scott (70) and Toth (58).
Photos by Gerard Saraber.
Road Dirt at Road America
The weekend in Elkhart Lake presented some unique opportunities for the Road Dirt crew. First, senior editor Rob had the chance to ride a Harley-Davidson 2021 Heritage Softail Classic all weekend, courtesy of the Motor Company. Ride and review story forthcoming. On Saturday, Rob and Nathan “GenZ Biker” Baron were present for the unveiling of Royal Enfield’s “Build. Train. Race.” road racing Continental GT bikes, and the women selected to prepare and race them at upcoming rounds. They interviewed RE’s Bree Poland about the program, then discussed the bikes with several of their riders.
Some shots of the Royal Enfield “Build. Train. Race.” debut of the Continental GTs, and their riders/creators. Road Dirt contributor Nathan “GenZ Biker” Baron talks with the girls, who will race their creations at The Ridge next month. Video interviews forthcoming.
Rob was also invited to announce and call the MotoAmerica Motul Mini Cup races over on the Road America Kart Track Saturday afternoon, giving live commentary on all six races of the double-header series in 110, 160, and 190cc classes. “That was a new experience,” Rob chuckled, “calling races from the Kart tower in real time! I thoroughly enjoyed it, such an exciting series for youngsters to train and compete in. And I got to employ my old vocal chops from my radio days! Such a great time.”
Some fantastic race action in the Motul Mini Cup races, an AMA/FIM sanctioned series.
Race photos by MotoAmerica/Brian J. Nelson Photography.
The weather was perfect, the racing was outstanding, and the fans were thunderous at one of the greatest race tracks in North America. MotoAmerica always puts on a fantastic race weekend, with events and activities for the whole family, and this one at Road America did not disappoint.
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*Top featured article image of Jake Gagne by Road Dirt’s own Ryan Nolan.