For the second straight race weekend, Jake Gagne had a different teammate under the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha awning with the arrival of Toni Elias as a fill-in rider for Josh Herrin. No biggie. Unfazed as always, Gagne went about the business of again being the fastest of the HONOS Superbike men on a hot and sunny Friday at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
Gagne, who was joined in the team by JD Beach at the last round at Brainerd International Raceway, lapped at a best of 1:41.129 on his second lap of Q1. The Californian spent more time on hot pit than normal during Q1 as he and the team tried some different suspension tweaks. With rain forecast for this evening, it all may be for naught, however, Gagne said.
“We made some suspension changes after the first one (session),” Gagne said. “I liked the forks, but we needed to go stiffer with the springs because we were bottoming it out a little this morning. We changed the shock too, but we ended up going back to the shock we used this morning. Just some suspension tweaks and some electronic stuff too, trying to dial in engine braking… just little things. I think we are now in a really good spot. We will look at the data and make a decision on the two shocks we tried. The rain will wash the rubber off again and the track will change again. The track was different for sure than even this morning.”
Gagne bested Westby Racing Mathew Scholtz by .726 of a second with the South African putting in his best lap on his 13th go-around. Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz was third, just a tick quicker than M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen.
Then came Elias in his first day on the bike he’s battled with for his entire MotoAmerica career – the factory YZF-R1. Elias was fast from the get-go on the bike, ending the first session third. He dropped down to eighth early in the session when some chassis changes didn’t work, but he bounced back to fifth when the changes were reversed.
Panera Bread Ducati’s Kyle Wyman was sixth with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong seventh. Scheibe Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera, Superbike Cupper Jake Lewis on the Altus Motorsports Suzuki, and Travis Wyman Racing BMW’s Travis Wyman rounded out the top 10 on opening day.
Gagne’s 1:41.129 is off Cameron Beaubier’s lap record at Pitt Race with the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion ripping off a 1:39.472 during Superpole in 2019. Beaubier also holds the race lap record with a 1:40.550 set in race two in 2020.
The Benjamin Gloddy/Tyler Scott duel in SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup resumed on Friday at Pitt Race with Gloddy coming out on top in Q1 on his Landers Racing Kawasaki. Gloddy led Scott Powersports/KTM’s Scott by .852 of a second. Kermoto/Madden Painting’s Cody Wyman rounded out the top three on Friday afternoon.
Sean Dylan Kelly kept his hot hand in Supersport’s Q1, the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider ripping off a 1:44.330 to lead North East Cycle Outlet Racing Yamaha’s Benjamin Smith by a tick over a second. Landers Racing Yamaha’s Rocco Landers ended up third on day one. HONOS HVMC’s Racing Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante ended up fifth after a mechanical problem cost him the entire first practice session in the morning.
MESA37’s Stefano Mesa led the Stock 1000 Q1 session with his 1:44.842, but that lap was bettered by Jake Lewis, Travis Wyman and HONOS HVMC’s Corey Alexander all went quicker in the Superbike session on their Stock 1000-spec motorcycles.
In Twins Cup Q1, it was Veloce Racing’s Anthony Mazziotto coming out on top by half a second with his 1:49.360. Innovative Motorsports/Mike’s Imports’ Teagg Hobbs and Righteous Racing’s Jody Berry rounded out the top three.