Geoff & Barb Nickless chat with MotoAmerica 2021 Superbike Champ Jake Gagne at COTA

Race days are exciting for everyone, but a MotoGP race weekend is palpable! The sound waves from the paddock are the first thing to hit you. Mechanics revving the engines to listen for the crispness of their tuning and the buzz of riders, teams, and fans gathering before the race is electric. Circuit of the Americas (COTA) did not fail to disappoint all who gathered for this event April 8-10th, 2022. Upon arrival to the MotoAmerica paddock early Friday morning, everything was ready to go, and the teams were already into their race routines.

Jake Gagne was relaxed and obliging when asked if he could spare some time to chat with Road Dirt. “Of course, anytime!” was his reply. The following is our conversation that morning in the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing tent.

Barb- “I’m sure that you’re jazzed about being here.”

Jake- “Yeah, it’s awesome. First round of the year, after the off season, and everyone is itching to get back out at the racetrack. It’s an awesome racetrack and having a MotoGP race here on the same weekend is really cool. A lot of hype. First round and everyone is ready to get going.”

Barb- “How is your back from your crash at Daytona?”

Jake- “I’m a lot better. I’m feeling good and it should not be an issue at all.”

Barb- “It was really sore?”

Jake- “Yeah, It was a tough week and half you know, a couple little things banged up from that crash. It was a bummer that we couldn’t go racing that day.”

Barb- “You are still in Colorado, correct? You live in a beautiful part of Colorado, Durango. Do you go home and train a bit?”

Jake- “Yeah, I’ve been home all off-season and after Daytona I went back home. It’s a nice change for me. It’s nice to train in the mountains. Living at (higher) elevation is great when you come back down to sea level. It’s cool. There’s a lot of stuff to do outside, bike and hike and all that stuff.”

Barb- “What is your favorite turn at COTA? Do you have a favorite?”

Jake- “There’s a lot of good turns. I don’t know about just a single turn, but I like turns 2, 3, 4, and 5. That whole flip-flop section, back and forth, back and forth. (He was gesturing left and right with his hands.) That whole section is really unique. I think that this Yamaha works well here. It’s pretty good across the board.”

Barb- “You are good friends with Cameron Beaubier. Have you had a chance to see him?”

Jake- “I saw him a little bit yesterday. He’s so busy here. We try to see him when we can. We’re all good buddies, most of us Superbike guys. Hope him and Joe have a strong weekend here. He did good last year.”

Barb- “The step up to MotoGP is growing for American riders now with MotoAmerica. After 8 years it’s been nice to see more riders come through. I know you’re signed through 2023. Are you hoping that that’s going to be next for you?”

Jake- “Yeah, we’ll see. I can’t think much more ahead than today, but we’ll have to wait and see if there’s a good opportunity that presents itself. I’ll be all over it.”

Barb- “I’m really excited for you and I hope you have a great weekend. Thank you for spending time with Road Dirt. We appreciate it and hope you do well for the season. We’ll see you at the Ridge.”

Jake- “Thank you. We’ll see you at the track. Road Dirt is always welcome to have a chat.”

Note: Jake ended up having a rough opening weekend, with a Saturday DNF due to engine failure yet got on the podium Sunday with a solid third place finish. On to Road Atlanta!


Barb Nickless

*Photos by Geoff & Barb Nickless

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