MotoAmerica Champion Jake Gagne Taking On Racing World Superbike In Portugal – Attack The World!
By Michael Gougis
This is different.
Wild card spots in the Superbike World Championships nowadays frequently go to riders from National-level series who are just guest pilots for the weekend. They get on machines that are different than the ones that they race, on tires that are different, with electronics that are different. They are there to fill the grid, and perhaps to put a well-respected name on the entry list and get a few more fans through the turnstiles.
But back in the day, when the World Superbike series came to town, sometimes there was a National-level crew that showed up to meet them, ready to rumble. They brought their own machines, bikes their riders knew intimately. They showed up with local track knowledge. And they could cause the World Superbike riders no shortage of headaches–and occasionally deliver an old-school, back-alley beatdown. In 1999, Vance & Hines showed up at Laguna Seca with AMA Superbike riders Anthony Gobert and Ben Bostrom and took both wins. In 2003, Shane “Shakey” Byrne crushed the World Superbike regulars as a wild card entrant at Brands Hatch, taking both wins on a Monstermob BSB-spec machine.
Mostly, those days are over. Spec tires, spec electronics, and divergent technical regulations mean that it’s much more difficult for a National-level team to compete at all, let alone run at the front.
That’s what makes the Attack Racing wild card World Superbike project at Portimao so intriguing. MotoAmerica wanted its Superbike class rules to mirror the World Superbike specs, so the Yamaha YZF-R1 that Jake Gagne will be racing in Portugal will be very close to the same machine he has raced so successfully in the States. He’s fully familiar with the suspension, the brakes, the engine, and (perhaps most importantly) the electronics.
And Gagne himself has raced at the factory level in World Superbike. He knows how to switch from the Dunlop spec tire in MotoAmerica to the WorldSBK-spec Pirellis. He has raced at the Portimao circuit. In the States, he’s raced against Europeans who have won MotoGP and World Superbike races–and beaten them soundly. And the team has taken the time to test on Pirelli tires before shipping everything over to Portugal.
It’s not exactly the same as the old days. But at least on paper, the Attack Racing/Jake Gagne team looks like it’s got a better-than-average chance of not just showing up to have a good time. They are serious about taking on the World Superbike stars!