American roadracer Jake Gagne has signed on as a rider for Honda’s Red Bull Superbike team to contest the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship. Gagne, 24, joins the team full-time after filling the seat vacated by the late, great Nicky Hayden as a wild-car rider three times in the 2017 WSB season. His best results were a trio of 12th-place finishes.
Gagne, the 2014 AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike champ and 2015 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000cc titleist, doubles the Americans that will race next year in World Supers, joining PJ Jacobsen who will race for the new TripleM satellite Honda team. Gagne will be teamed with Leon Camier aboard Honda CBR1000RR SP2s on the factory-supported Red Bull squad after competing in the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship on a CBR1000RR with the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda Racing team.
“It’s really a dream come true to have the chance to contest a full World Superbike season with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team,” said the San Diego, California, resident who replaces Stefan Bradl in the team. “I cannot thank Red Bull, Honda and Ten Kate enough for the opportunity to race the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 over three rounds this year. I have learned so much from them and I got to know them quite well, so I’m looking forward to getting going again. 2018 will be an exciting year for me, with a lot of traveling and racing on some of the best racetracks in the world. I want to thank again everyone involved for this incredible opportunity, and I feel I’m ready for the challenge ahead!”
Gagne joined the team for the first time last July, when he made his World Superbike debut at Laguna Seca, and he was recruited by the team for the round at Magny-Cours and then at the Losail International Circuit for the season finale. The team says Gagne constantly improved his performance and feeling with the WorldSBK-spec Fireblade machine, demonstrating his racecraft skills to the team.
“He picked up the challenge this year and jumped on our Fireblade without prior testing and did well at Laguna Seca, and later showed his talent at tracks he had never raced before,” said Marco Chini, Honda’s WorldSBK Operations Manager. “He is young, gifted and a great guy, so he’s the right choice for the team to ride alongside Leon. We look forward to seeing him on track very soon and we’re sure American fans will be happy to cheer him on.”
I recently got to spend a little time with Gagne at a Bell Helmets event, and he proved to be eminently like-able and down to earth, so we’ll certainly be cheering him on during the 2018 WSB season. It will be interesting to watch how Gagne’s speed compares with Jacobsen, also 24, with both racing on Hondas. We wish them both great success on the world’s stage!