Jake Gagne’s number one plate isn’t going anywhere.
The Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha rider successfully defended his Medallia Superbike crown on Sunday, finishing second in a dramatic race two at Barber Motorsports Park to clinch the feature class championship.
It was his teammate Cameron Petersen who would snatch the top step of the podium to end the season, taking the lead in turn five on lap one and holding Gagne off the rest of the way, but it didn’t matter much to the #1 machine as he was able to run comfortably ahead of title rival Danilo Petrucci in third.
While the writing was on the wall for Petrucci, things only managed to get worse for the Warhorse HSBK New York Ducati star, who got caught up in an aggressive battle with Matthew Scholtz before losing the final podium spot to PJ Jacobsen in the final corner.
The Italian would only manage fourth, seeing Gagne take the crown by 20 points as their spirited championship battle comes to a close.
“It was kind of nerve wracking, but I couldn’t have asked for a better year. There was no plan today, Cam just did his thing and had good pace, so I just rolled with it and tried to hang with him,” Gagne said. “Racing Danilo was so much fun this season. I don’t think there’s anyone I ever wanted to beat more just because of his resume, but we were able to protect this MotoAmerica championship which was the goal all along.”
As for Petersen, it was a bit of redemption for the South African after he crashed out of second place on Saturday, earning his third career Superbike victory at the same track where he won his first race a year ago. The win also rewards him with third in the final standings, after he and Scholtz entered the day separated by just a handful of points.
“I really wanted to win, especially after yesterday. I knew we had the pace, had the best pace all weekend, so I just tried to hit my marks and limit my mistakes,” Petersen said. “I’m really looking forward to the offseason now, but congrats to Jake. He really deserves it, it’s a great way to end the season.”
As for Jacobsen, the Tytlers Racing BMW rider capped off his season with an impressive podium charge to secure fifth in the championship, and in the process helped his chances of securing a ride for 2023 – something he wasn’t shy about.
“I just kept pushing and pushing, and they got into a bit of a battle in front, so once I got behind Petrucci I knew where I was going to pass him,” Petersen said. “At this point I don’t know what I’m doing for next year, I’m still waiting to see from the team, but I hope to be on this grid next year. I have a great crew and a great package right now, and I can’t thank them enough for the season we had.”
Petrucci meanwhile will end his first campaign in the United States as a runner-up, a disappointing result for the former MotoGP race winner, though he managed to push Gagne to the ultimate limit amidst one of the closest seasons in MotoAmerica history.
“It’s a bit frustrating, but I did all I could, so congrats to Jake,” Petrucci said. “I want to thank everyone at MotoAmerica for the great season, and the fans as well. It was great to be a part of this.”]
Herrin’s gamble pays off in Supersport
Josh Herrin won a wild Supersport contest in changing conditions, leading from start-to-finish to fend off a drying track and win his ninth race of the campaign.
The start of the race was pushed back by steady rain but ultimately began just as the rain stopped and the sun came out, forcing Herrin and many of the other frontrunners to gamble on rain tires while several others gambled on slicks, including the likes of Rocco Landers and Stefano Mesa.
Herrin built up a sizeable advantage early on aboard his Warhorse HSBK New York Ducati, but Mesa began to benefit from the drying track near the halfway point and started to carve his way through the field, adding a layer of doubt to Herrin’s lead.
Ultimately it was too little too late, however, as Mesa could only force his way back to seventh, with Herrin holding onto the win ahead of Luke Power and Tyler Scott.
“Last year I decided to go to slicks and it didn’t really work out as well for us, but this is the best possible way to finish the season,” Herrin said. “When Stefano unlapped himself I started to get a little nervous, it was definitely a weird feeling, but we were able to bring it home and it was pretty exciting.”
It was an emotional finish for Power, who overcame a host of issues to secure a shock podium in the season finale.
“It’s been the toughest weekend of my life, so there’s a lot of emotions. I crashed and totalled the bike, missed Q2, had a ton of electrical problems – I didn’t even know if I was going to ride today,” Power said. “Obviously you never want to say you didn’t push for the win, but to bring it home in second and be sitting here feels amazing.”
The full results from the MotoAmerica finale can be found on their official website.
Photos by Colin Fraser