Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne was the fastest rider during Day One of a private two-day MotoAmerica team test Tuesday at Ridge Motorsports Park, in Shelton, Washington.
Riding his Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike on spec Dunlop tires, Gagne lapped the 16-turn, 2.47-mile road course in an unofficial time of 1:42.9 while utilizing the new Turn One chicane and some track knowledge from a track day three years ago.
“It’s definitely always nice to be fast,” Gagne exclusively told Roadracingworld.com. “Of the Superbike guys, I think I was the only one who had been here before and done some laps. So early in the day, we knew we were up to speed fairly quickly, because it does take some laps to get all of the reference points dialed in.
“Everyone I talked to has really been enjoying the track. It’s a pretty tricky little track, actually. It has lots of elevation, which is really fun, some slow stuff, some faster stuff, a lot of blind turns. Getting some laps in and finding those reference points really makes a difference.
“It was my first time seeing that new Turn One chicane, which is actually pretty good. It’s one of the hardest braking zones on the track, so it’s going to be a good place to make some passes. With this place there’s not a lot of long straightaways leading into big braking zones, but there’s a lot of opportunity to be creative with passes because you’re going to have to be creative here. There’s a lot of different lines you can run. I think it will make for good racing.”
Gagne outpaced his teammate, four-time and defending MotoAmerica Champion Cameron Beaubier 1:42.9 to 1:43.1, according to their team owner Richard Stanboli, but it was Beaubier’s first time riding at Ridge Motorsports Park.
“It was a good day, but at first the track was pretty tricky,” said Beaubier. “There’s a lot of blind sections and the blind sections are pretty fast. So, it took me a little bit to piece everything together. It’s a pretty fun track when you get flowing through it. I’m glad that we got to come ride here before the race, that’s for sure.
“We didn’t tweak too much on the bike. We dialed in gearing a little bit, just small things like that, some electronic things. But we mainly focused on getting comfortable with the layout of the track.
“It has some different sections. The corners after the new Turn One chicane — Turns Three, Four, Five, and Six — that reminds me of Pittsburgh [International Race Complex] the way that section flows. The middle of the track, a couple of spots remind me of COTA with the decreasing radius first-gear corners. So, it’s got a cool little mix that keeps you on your toes.”
Also seeing the track for the first time was Bobby Fong, who in spite of winning Race Two at Road America 2 is still very new to his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike with a lot to learn, he says.
“The first day with the electronics is all about getting the electronics to work correctly in the right sectors,” said Fong. “So, we spent the first half of the day learning the track and getting the electronics all situated and working properly. After that we started working on bike setup and stuff.
“It’s good to be able to go testing like this. It took me a while to get going again, because I have to ride the bike differently. Every track I go to on this bike is a new challenge to me. I get used to the bike at one track, and then a new track is all different. So, it’s a challenge for me, but I’m improving each time.
“The track is fun. It’s tight, but it’s fun. It took me a while to get used to it because it’s a lot of blind corners. The curbing at the apex of the corners is really raised. I wish it was flatter. So, it’s hard to not hit the curbing at the apexes. But other than that, the track’s good. It’s got good grip. It’s different than most of the tracks we race at. It’s like a mixture of Pittsburgh and Sonoma Raceway. I think it’s going to provide some good racing.”
Fong’s teammate Toni Elias had the luxury of participating in a track day at Ridge Motorsports Park recently, which helped the Spaniard get up to speed quickly Tuesday and continue the development work on his Superbike.
“I had a really positive day,” said Elias. “The team brought me a new solution and I tried straightaway and worked. I started with the hardest tire with this new solution and felt much more grip, no spinning, going forward with traction. And then when I started using [softer-compound Dunlops], I had really great feelings and was very close to the Yamahas, and then we kind of stopped that work. We will continue it tomorrow because we will try swingarms.
“And the track is really nice. I love it. A lot of up and down and blind corners, very technical. I just love it. I can’t wait to race here and do a great result, because this is a track I like and I felt good quickly.”
The only other riders who participated in Day One were M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Supersport rider Sean Dylan Kelly and defending MotoAmerica Junior Cup Champion Rocco Landers, an Oregon resident, who rode his Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R.com/Dr. Farr Racing Kawasaki Ninja 400.
The private test will continue Wednesday.
MotoAmerica is scheduled to race at Ridge Motorsports Park August 28-30.
Unofficial Lap Times (as supplied by teams):
- Jake Gagne (Yam YZF-R1), Superbike, 1:42.9
- Cameron Beaubier (Yam YZF-R1), Superbike, 1:43.1
- Toni Elias (Suz GSX-R1000R), Superbike, 1:43.8
- Bobby Fong (Suz GSX-R1000R), Superbike, 1:44.3
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suz GSX-R600), Supersport, 1:47.0
- Rocco Landers (Kaw Ninja 400), Junior Cup, 1:54.8