And on Sunday, Ana Carrasco became the first female world champion in all of motorcycle racing, clinching the World Supersport 300 title in the final round of the season. Carrasco won the championship by the narrowest of margins, a single point, just ahead of Mika Perez, who lost the lead of the race with two corners left to go on the final lap.
In our latest look at road racing in the United States, we talked to Jake Gagne about the challenges facing an American rider trying to make his way to Europe. Previously we talked to Wayne Rainey, about how MotoAmerica is nurturing talent. You should give that a read too. -JB
Motorcycle racing needs its next American star. The lineage of world-class US riders has been long and storied over the years. That well of talent has dried up in recent years and the nation has been left waiting patiently for their next star.
From the days when King Kenny Roberts first left the US and went to Europe, there has been a constant torrent of talent from the West, but that torrent became a stream and most recently a shuck.
With the flow of racing talent having been directed off-road over the last ten years, it seems as though MotoAmerica might have once again given American riders a setting upon which to build their careers.
For the first time since Portimao 2011, Yamaha was able to celebrate two riders standings on the WorldSBK podium. In an action packed Race 2 at Magny Cours, Chaz Davies claimed his seventh race win of the season, ahead of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark.
For Yamaha, this was the culmination of their efforts throughout the last 12 months – to turn their WorldSBK program into a front-running effort. While there is still clearly work to be done to transform the YZF-R1 into a race-winner, it has now been able to claim five podiums in 2017.
History was made at Magny-Cours today, when Jonathan Rea claimed an unprecedented third WorldSBK championship in a row. It was a momentous day for the Northern Irishman, who also notched up the 50th victory of his career.
“To be honest I can’t sum up my emotions,” said the triple champion. “I just feel super proud of my team and Kawasaki.”
“It has been such a team effort, and even though I’m the guy who rode it over the line, there have been so many people involved to make it possible. Every season is different and special in its own individual way.”
American racer Jake Gagne will get another shot in the World Superbike Championship, as he is set to replace the injured Stefan Bradl at the upcoming Magny-Cours round.
Gagne made an impression on the WorldSBK paddock during his one-off ride at Laguna Seca, where he scored twice in the points, with two 15th place finishes.
“First of all, I would like to wish Stefan a speedy recovery: I’ve been there before and it’s never nice to have stay away from racing due to injury,” said Gagne. Obviously I would like to thank Honda and the team for the opportunity to come back and get a second shot at World Superbike.”
“Laguna Seca was a dream come true for me, and the knowledge and experience I gained from the team throughout that weekend was massive. It will also be nice to have some experience with this version of the Fireblade going into FP1.”
“Magny-Cours is a completely new track for me but I look forward to the challenge of racing on a new circuit and continuing to learn and grow. I have also never been to France, so it will be an exciting week!”
It was smart strategy that won Chaz Davies the opening race of the French round of WorldSBK; but in Race 2, it was patience and perseverance that won out.
The Welshman clocked up his third win in four races, and each have come in very different circumstances. A dominant victory in Germany started this rich vein of form, but France showed how strong Davies has become.
The decision on whether to be conservative or aggressive with your choices wasn’t the key in Magny-Cours, rather it was just about having belief in your convictions.
With a drying track, Chaz Davies was one of the few riders to start the race with intermediate tires, and the gamble proved worth the risk for the Ducati rider, as he romped to victory.
In the early stages, with a wet track, Davies was a sitting duck to riders with more grip from full wet-weather tires. The Welshman even said afterwards that “I was so slow that I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had hit me!”
When the track started to dry, the race came to Davies, and rather than being a sitting duck he became a shark and picked off his rivals. It was an inspired race by Davies who rarely seemed to have push but instead kept calm and allowed the race to come to him.