by David Swarts
Three fuel samples taken from Jake Gagne’s Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha YZF-R1 following MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Race Two at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) have been found to be illegal during official fuel testing.
Following the race, MotoAmerica Technical Director Tige Daane took three fuel samples from each of Josh Herrin’s Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati (first place), PJ Jacobsen’s Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW (third place), and Gagne’s Yamaha (second place). Daane told Roadracingworld.com that it was a pre-planned fuel test “because we hadn’t done one in a while.”
According to AMA Director of Racing Bill Cumbow, there hadn’t been a post-race fuel test conducted in MotoAmerica Superbike since 2018. For reference, MotoGP tests fuel samples at every round.
All racebikes competing in MotoAmerica, with the exception of motorcycles in the King Of The Baggers class, are required to use VP Racing Fuels’ FIM-homologated MGP unleaded fuel. VP Racing Fuels has been the official spec fuel supplier for MotoAmerica since 2019.
The fuel from Herrin’s Ducati and Jacobsen’s BMW was found to be compliant during testing performed by VP Racing Fuels in the days following the race at COTA. The fuel sample from Gagne’s Yamaha was found not in compliance when compared to a reference sample, so Gagne’s second sample was tested by VP Racing Fuels and the same result was found – non-compliant.
At the request of Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha, the third fuel sample was then sent for testing by an independent laboratory, which is part of the official testing procedure. On September 22, AMA sent the sample to Intertek, a huge international testing company that currently handles fuel testing for the FIM Superbike World Championship. Testing of Gagne’s third sample was also found to be non-compliant.
The official ruling on Gagne’s fuel sample will be made by either the FIM North America (FIMNA) Stewards Panel or by Race Direction. Which it will actually be is unknown at this time.
Possible disciplinary actions include:
A private or public warning
Rider penalty points that can lead to starting the next race from the back of the grid or from pit lane or a disqualification from the next event
A cash fine of up to $10,000
Disqualification from the event in question
The loss of Championship points
And more than one penalty can be assessed.
Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha is expected to appeal the ruling to the FIMNA Appeal Stewards Panel, so the final outcome of this case will not be known until after that appeal hearing.
Richard Stanboli, the owner of the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha team, has been an outspoken critic of VP Racing Fuels’ MGP fuel, particularly the 2023-blend of the fuel, and has also blamed the company’s quality control since his team damaged three Superbike engines during Free Practice One at Road America.
“In my opinion, the fuel is total crap,” Stanboli said during a live podcast during the 2023 season. “VP can do a lot better. They are a gigantic company. They make really good fuels for other series, but in this particular case they’re just bargain basement, a little better than pump gas. It is what it is, and we know what it is.”
Stanboli admitted that he builds and tunes his engines to a fine edge, but he said other engines built to the same spec as those at Road America had done 870 miles (1,400 km) on track without any problems.
The difference, said Stanboli, was that those previous engines burned VP Racing Fuels MGP from a 2022 batch and the engines that had problems at Road America ran fuel were from a 2023 batch of MGP. Stanboli said VP Racing Fuels told him nothing had changed in the formulation of the two batches, but Stanboli said his results proved otherwise.
After his engine problems at Road America, Stanboli said his team changed the engine build specs, using less compression and running richer air/fuel mixtures, among other things, to make the engines live while burning VP’s 2023-blend fuel. Stanboli also said he let MotoAmerica know that he would run 2022-blend MGP fuel with his latest engine build spec at COTA.
Gagne broke a long-standing All-Time Lap Record, won Superbike Race One, and finished second in Superbike Race Two at COTA.