MotoAmerica: Gagne Doing WorldSBK Testing At Buttonwillow

MotoAmerica: Gagne Doing WorldSBK Testing At Buttonwillow

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Jake Gagne, the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion and the current MotoAmerica Championship point leader, is testing this week at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, in preparation for his World Superbike wild card appearance in Portugal later this season.

A few weeks ago, Yamaha announced that after the conclusion of the 2022 MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship at Barber Motorsports Park in September, Gagne and his crew will crate up one of his Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbikes and head over to Europe to participate as a wild card in the FIM Superbike World Championship round October 7-9 at Algarve International Circuit, in Portimao, Portugal.

While the YZF-R1s ridden by Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and Andrea Locatelli in World Superbike are very similar to the machine Gagne races in MotoAmerica Superbike, there are some significant differences.

For starters, MotoAmerica races on Dunlop control tires and World Superbike races on Pirelli control tires. And the difference between the two series’ fuel regulations require some minor changes in the engine build and tuning. And finally, World Superbikes are allowed to use an alternate set of internal gear ratios with a neutral lockout.

With all of this in mind, the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha team returned from this past weekend’s MotoAmerica event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex to their base in Huntington Beach, California, on Monday, built Gagne a World Superbike-spec engine and transmission on Tuesday, and started testing at Buttonwillow on Wednesday and Thursday.

The goal is to allow Gagne to learn the differences in the WorldSBK-spec machine and to reacclimate himself to Pirelli tires, which he used when racing for the factory Red Bull Honda team in the 2018 Superbike World Championship. That season, Gagne earned four top-10 finishes while only failing to finish races twice.

According to messages from Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Team Owner Richard Stanboli today, they are learning a lot so far at the test, but things are complicated by the fact that the ambient temperature at Buttonwillow on Wednesday was about 106˚ F (41˚ C) and the track temperature was 140˚ F (60 C). Conditions are expected to be the same today.

In 2021, the ambient temperatures at Algarve ranged from 79˚ F (26˚ C) during Race One to 72˚ F (22˚ C) during Race Two, and the track temperatures ranged from 113˚ F (45˚ C) during Race One to 106˚ F (41˚ C) in Race Two.

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