Jake Gagne will join the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team for this weekend’s Laguna Seca round in place of the late Nicky Hayden.
The 2010 Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion will join Stefan Bradl in the official Honda team for the eighth round of the 2017 Superbike World Championship at his home circuit.
Since Hayden tragically passed away following a cycling accident in May, the Red Bull Honda team have left his seat vacant out of respect, but felt putting an American rider on the bike for the Laguna Seca round was the right way to pay tribute to the 2006 MotoGP World Champion.
“For me this is a dream come true and a huge honour to get to race in the World Superbike Championship with such a prestigious team,” said Gagne.
“This is a huge opportunity and I am going to do everything I can to do the best job possible and learn as much as I can. The loss of Nicky was very difficult for us all but I know he will be watching over us and I hope I can make him proud. Laguna Seca will always be a very special track for him and I'm honoured to get out there in front of our home crowd and show what I can do. It seems like a great fit coming off a Honda Superbike here in the States, as well as having Red Bull as the team sponsor, as they have supported me throughout my whole career. I would like to express my huge thanks to Honda, Red Bull and Ten Kate for this incredible opportunity. And thanks also to Broaster, RoadRace Factory and my whole team for allowing me to chase this dream!”
Team manager Ronald ten Kate added: “Jake is a young and talented racer who already knows the Fireblade quite well from racing in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship and has raced – and won – many times at Laguna Seca. We are looking forward to welcoming him within the team and giving him the best possible support for his World Superbike debut. I’m confident he will enjoy the experience and will do his very best in front of his home crowd. Nicky was known for his great support of young riders – especially his fellow Americans – and was always available for a chat and to offer advice, so I feel this is the perfect way to honour him at Laguna Seca.”
It’s unclear whether the Red Bull team will replace Hayden for the remainder of the year after the upcoming Laguna Seca round.