Story by Chris Martin
Photography by Larry Lawrence
Jake Gagne came out swinging at Road America, registering a series of blistering laps during Friday's Daytona SportBike qualifying session.
The best of those laps was a 2:18.647, 0.726 inside the old lap record. The RoadRace Factory/Red Bull rider was quickly up to speed in Wisconsin despite not having the benefit of the additional track time some of his rivals enjoyed during the recent Superbike Shootout.
However, Gagne's pace didn't come as a complete shook -- he did manage to hand Cameron Beaubier his only defeat of the 2013 season in Wisconsin last year in a head-to-head battle.
"This morning we had some stuff to work through just to knock the cobwebs off and stuff," Gagne said. "We changed some stuff and it worked really good right away. Tomorrow's qualifying is really early and we didn't know how it would be so I kind of wanted to throw down today in case tomorrow is too cold. I threw in a new tire at the end and just kind of went for it. I saw a lot of people going down at the end of that thing. I knew it was going to get a little bit sketchy but I just tried to throw down and it worked out pretty good."
While Gagne didn't participate in the Shootout, he did manage to get some seat time during the two-month layoff separating the Daytona opener from this weekend's second round. He said, "I've been riding my bicycle a lot and riding my dirt bike at home. And we actually did a club race in Colorado at the MRA. It was good to get some time because before Daytona we really didn't get any time on the new forks. So it was really good just to get some laps. We were better prepared for this weekend and everything is working really good so we're definitely happy."
Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Garrett Gerloff was also under the old lap record at 2:18.244, while Dane Westby rounded out an all-R6 provisional front row on the Yamalube entry.
Castrol-backed Jason DiSalvo and Latus Motors/Castrol's Bobby Fong were fourth and fifth, respectively, aboard their Triumph 675s, followed by MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha's Jake Lewis.
Former AMA Pro champs Danny Eslick, JD Beach, Jake Zemke, and Tomas Puerta completed the top ten.
Friday Provisional Daytona SportBike Qualifying from Road America
1 32 Jake Gagne San Diego, CA Yamaha YZF-R6 2:18.647
2 8 Garrett Gerloff Spring, TX Yamaha YZF-R6 2:19.244
3 00 Dane Westby Tulsa, OK Yamaha YZF-R6 2:19.641
4 40 Jason DiSalvo Batavia, NY Triumph Daytona 675 2:20.077
5 50 Bobby Fong Stockton, CA Triumph Daytona 675 2:20.840
6 85 Jake Lewis Princeton, KY Yamaha YZF-R6 2:20.859
7 69 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Triumph Daytona 675 2:21.135
8 6 JD Beach Yamaha Philpot, KY YZF-R6 2:21.311
9 98 Jake Zemke Pasa Robles, CA Honda CBR600RR 2:22.002
10 12 Tomas Puerta Medellin, Colombia Yamaha YZF-R6 2:22.805