After crisscrossing the country to eight different racetracks in eight different states and completing 292 laps and 782.872 miles of racing, the 2023 MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Championship ends this weekend in its ninth state and its ninth racetrack – New Jersey Motorsports Park – for the final two races consisting of 41 furious laps and 92.25 miles around NJMP’s Thunderbolt Raceway.
The leader of the majority of those laps is newly crowned three-time MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion Jake Gagne, who wrapped up the title on August 20 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Wrapping up the title didn’t slow him down, however, as Gagne won race one at the very next round at the Circuit of The Americas on September 9 before finishing second the next day in race two.
Thus, Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Gagne holds down an astronomical points lead of 121 points as the series rolls into NJMP for the finale. Gagne earned his 382 points via 10 wins and five additional podiums. He only has one non-finish on his scorecard and that came via an engine failure in race one at Road America at the beginning of June.
Although Gagne won 10 races this year, he came under the most pressure of any of his championship-winning seasons with three others winning races, including Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, who matched Gagne’s five race wins through the first 11 races and was a thorn in Gagne’s side until a spate of unlucky and horrendous crashes ended his season. The other two winners were Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Josh Herrin and Beaubier’s teammate PJ Jacobsen. While Jacobsen had one victory, Herrin had two, including in the most recent race a week and a half ago in Texas.
Gagne’s three-year reign is impressive with 17- and 12-win seasons preceding this one. If Gagne were to win both races this weekend at NJMP, he will have another 12-win season and a total of 41 wins in three years. In his three championship years heading into Jersey, Gagne has won half of the Superbike races held – 39 of 78 races – or 50 percent. Again impressive.
Herrin’s victory in race two at COTA was his second of the season and the 10th of his Superbike career. He got out front and stayed there, despite relentless pressure throughout the race from Gagne. Herrin goes to New Jersey with a 28-point lead over Jacobsen in the battle for second in the championship.
With Beaubier fourth but sliding down the order with every race, it’s highly likely that he will end up sixth when all is said and done. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz is fifth and only eight points behind Beaubier, and Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante is a further five points adrift.
With Beaubier likely slipping to sixth in the championship, the battle for seventh is going to be between Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Corey Alexander and Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim. Alexander leads Gillim by 12 points after Gillim suffered his first DNF of the season in race two at COTA when his Suzuki GSX-R1000 suffered a mechanical failure.
Aftercare Scheibe Racing’s Ashton Yates is ninth in the series standings and coming off a solid weekend at COTA. He’s 18 points clear of the injured Cameron Petersen, who will likely be passed for 10th by Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders. Flinders is just five points behind the absent Petersen and only eight and nine points ahead of the late-starting Bobby Fong on the Wrench Motorcycles Yamaha YZF-R1 and Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch, respectively.
NJMP Superbike Notes…
While this year’s race is the season finale in the 2023 MotoAmerica Championship, last year’s race was the penultimate round in the series.
Last year’s two Medallia Superbike races were won by Jake Gagne and Italian Danilo Petrucci. Gagne won race one over Cameron Petersen and Mathew Scholtz with Petrucci beating Scholtz and Gagne in the wet second race. Gagne left the Garden State with a four-point lead over Petrucci in the championship after nine of 10 rounds.
With his win in race two, Petrucci became the ninth different rider to win an AMA Superbike race in the 14-year history of the series visiting NJMP. Josh Hayes is the most proficient Superbike racer in the history of NJMP with his 11 AMA Superbike wins at the facility. Hayes also won the first two AMA Superbike races held at the track in Millville in 2009.
Hayes added to his New Jersey Motorsports Park legacy by winning both of the Supersport races last year on his Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. Hayes is back this year to try and score victories in Supersport again.
PJ Jacobsen earned pole position for the two Medallia Superbike races at NJMP last year with his 1:20.103 lap. Although the lap put him on pole, it wasn’t enough to knock Cameron Beaubier off as the lap record holder at NJMP. Beaubier clicked off a 1:19.806 in Superpole qualifying in 2020.
Mathew Scholtz turned in the fastest race lap a year ago with his 1:20.796 coming in race one, but that was slower than Gagne’s race lap record of 1:20.076 from race two in 2021.
Since we can’t break tradition, we have to remind everyone that Roger Hayden, who won twice at NJMP during his Superbike career, finished second there five times. Included in those five runner-up finishes were a .044 of a second loss to Josh Hayes in 2015, a .156 of a second loss to Toni Elias in 2016 and a .039 of a second loss to Elias in 2017. Hayden is always a winner to MotoAmerica and its fans, however, as he provides color commentary of MotoAmerica’s races on MotoAmerica Live+, the series’ live streaming and on-demand platform.
Jake Gagne’s victory in race one at COTA was the 39th of his career, which puts him fourth in the all-time AMA Superbike win list behind Mat Mladin (82), Josh Hayes (61) and Cameron Beaubier (59).
History Lesson: 21 different riders have won the AMA Superbike Championship in its 48-year history with Jake Gagne the 21st to do so. Gagne is tied for fourth on the all-time AMA Superbike Champions list with three titles, joining Reg Pridmore (1976, 1977, 1978), Doug Chandler (1990, 1996, 1997) and Ben Spies (2006, 2007, 2008). The leader in AMA Superbike titles is Mat Mladin’s seven, followed by Cameron Beaubier’s five and Josh Hayes’s four. Three riders – Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and Wes Cooley – are tied with two wins while nine racers have won a single AMA Superbike title (Bubba Shobert, Jamie James, Thomas Stevens, Scott Russell, Doug Polen, Troy Corser, Miguel Duhamel, Ben Bostrom, Nicky Hayden and Toni Elias).