WSB: Jake Gagne to make Portimao wildcard appearance

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2021 MotoAmerica champion Jake Gagne will return to the World Superbike Championship later this year with a wildcard at Portimao.

The American will head to Portugal with the same Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing team that he competes for in the USA. Together, on a Yamaha R1 prepared by Attack Performance, they dominated MotoAmerica last season, with Gagne winning all but three races (17) on his way to the title. In fact, Gagne ended the year with an advantage of 88 points over Mathre Scholtz.

2022 hasn’t been as easy thanks to the arrival of MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci. Gagne has eight wins to his name but sits 13 points behind Petrucci after crashing out of race two at Brainerd International Raceway last weekend.

Gagne has previous WorldSBK experience having raced for Ten Kate Honda in 2018. However, a difficult campaign saw him record just four top 10 finishes, securing a best result of ninth at Qatar and Laguna Seca.

Jake Gagne onboard the Red Bull Ten Kate Honda in 2018

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to line up on the World Superbike grid,” Gagne said. “Portimao is a really cool track; it’s awesome to be going back, and I look forward to the challenge. I couldn’t ask for a better team and motorcycle, so we’ll go over and do the best we can and enjoy the process!”

His wildcard appearance will put Gagne’s name into the hat for a potential full-time contract in 2023, with seats available at the GYTR GRT Yamaha squad.

With 25 wins from the last 34 races, Gagne, like reigning BSB champion Tarran Mackenzie, will no doubt be one of the favourites for a move to that team. Mackenzie scored points during his wildcard appearance at Donington Park last month and is expected to make another appearance before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Attack Performance outfit made WorldSBK wildcard appearances at Laguna Seca in 2018 and 2019. On both occasions the team narrowly missed out on points, with Josh Herrin and J.D. Beach both securing best results of 16th.

“Jake and the team are very excited to be invited to race in WorldSBK at Portimao,” Richard Stanboli, Attack Performance team manager added. “Our plan is to wrap up the MotoAmerica Superbike championship at Barber and then ship our bikes to Portugal. For sure it will be challenging, but when we have done a wild card entry in the past, whether it was World Superbike or MotoGP, we learned a lot and improved as a team.

“Fortunately, Jake has World Superbike experience at Portimao, and we will receive some technical assistance from our partners at Yamaha Europe. I would also like to thank Pirelli for the assistance and technical support they will bring to this effort. Our goal is to put on a good show and make our fans proud.”

The Portimao WorldSBK round takes place on October 7-9.