MotoAmerica: Jake Gagne interview
Jake Gagne stormed to the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike title, wiping the floor with his competition.
Jake Gagne was crowned the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike champion with an incredible tally of 17 race wins in 20 races, winning 16 of those races consecutively to obliterate his opponents in 2021. After finishing runner-up to his Attack Performance Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier in 2020, he was desperate to make that extra step in 2021 and had learned all he needed to learn to do so after sharing a pit box with the 5 x champion. Jake Gagne knew he could challenge for the title in 2021 especially with the departure of Beaubier to the Moto2 World Championship.
“I learned a lot riding with Cameron as my teammate last year, seeing how fast he could go,” observed Gagne. “I knew I had to adjust my riding style a little bit for the Yamaha compared to other bikes I’ve been on in the past. We really just worked on smoothing out my riding in the offseason and doing some things differently to suit the Yamaha, carrying a little more speed, using the front tyre more. I had a new crew chief this year with Jon Cornwell and we just had a great team and kept making the bike better and better. Even before the season started, I know we were ready to pick up the pace.”
Jake stamping on the rear brake to keep the front end of his Attack Performance Yamaha R1 down.
His 2021 title campaign didn’t exactly start the way he had hoped to in the season-opening race one at Road Atlanta after suffering a mechanical issue that formed him to retire from the race before it barely got started.
“We had a motor pop on the second lap, I was pretty pumped coming in and I was ready to ride that thing so I was pretty shocked, obviously. After the shock wore off I really kind of figured ‘okay, we got that one out of the way, we should be good the rest of the year from those little bike gremlins.’ The Yamaha has always been pretty stable, especially with Richard [Stanboli] and the Attack guys on it.”
Being good the rest of the way just might be the understatement of the year. As previously mentioned Gagne absolutely dominated the field in 2021 en route to his first Superbike title, but thinking there was no competition wouldn’t be fair to the other competitors in the series.
“Obviously, this year was stacked, especially with Loris Baz coming over from WorldSBK and guys like Scholtz, Herrin and Fong who have achieved a lot in the States over the years, I didn’t expect to win nearly every race. It was a little surprising.”
The #32 got very accustomed to P1.
While the competition on the track was on display each round, the growth of the sport was evident as well. Gagne credits that to the hard work of Wayne Rainey and MotoAmerica and the fans that have supported the series over the years.
“MotoAmerica has just done a super job,” said Gagne. “Fan turnout has been fantastic every weekend and is growing every year. The TV package is really great. I know that me getting out in the lead so often was maybe a little boring for the viewers though (laughs).”
With his contract with Attack Performance Yamaha at an end, what will 2022 bring?
“I’m at the end of my contract in 2021 but we’re working stuff out for next year,” noted Gagne. “I know the team just has to figure out some stuff with sponsors and such. If all things go well, I should probably be back to try and defend my title with the same Attack Performance Yamaha team.”
Jake was confirmed as the champion following victory at New Jersey in race 2.
The line of contenders to the throne will be a long one and should he be back to defend his title with Attack Performance Yamaha, Gagne knows nothing will be handed to him and he’s going to have to fight even harder to win in 2022.
“Obviously, all of the same guys that were tough this year will be back, I think there is some unknowns yet in all the superbike teams so we will have to wait and see who lines up next year but I’m sure no matter what, the grid is going to be stacked and it’ll be even harder to accomplish what we did this year. At the same time, I know we can keep improving from last year. We’ll just enjoy the process over the offseason and do some good testing this winter.”
Featured images – Brian J Nelson