The 2018 World Superbike season will another American on the grid, as Jake Gagne has been announced as Red Bull Honda’s second rider for next year.
The news comes after Gagne impressed with several wild card appearances throughout the 2017 season, as well as post-season testing stints.
The move up from the MotoAmerica Championship to the World Superbike Champion is a big one for Gagne, and for American road racing, as it is the first such transition for the rebooted American series.
Though for Gagne it means a great opportunity, 2018 will still certainly be a test for the 24-year-old. Not only will he have to contend with a grid full of world-class riders, and race at a number of unfamiliar circuits, Gagne will have to contend with the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 superbike platform.
Red Bull Honda WorldSBK struggled last year to tame Honda’s “new” superbike, and was decisively behind the gun when it came to developing the machine at the start of the season.
Things seem better situated for the 2018 season, however, with development and support more on-pace for the CBR1000RR, but Honda is still a few steps behind the front-runners, and maybe another step behind the effort seen in the Pata Yamaha garage.
Still for Gagne, today’s news is a welcomed sight. It’s a chance for the MotoAmerica superbike rider to show his talent on a world stage, and with that there comes the great task in filling the shoes left behind by Nicky Hayden in both the Honda garage and WorldSBK paddock.
“It’s really a dream come true to have the chance to contest a full World Superbike season with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team,” said Gagne. “I cannot thank Red Bull, Honda and Ten Kate enough for the opportunity to race the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 over three rounds this year.”
“I have learned so much from them and I got to know them quite well, so I’m looking forward to getting going again.”
“2018 will be an exciting year for me, with a lot of travelling and racing on some of the best race tracks in the world. I want to thank again everyone involved for this incredible opportunity, and I feel I’m ready for the challenge ahead!”
Gagne will join Leon Camier in the Red Bull Honda garage, and will also race against fellow American PJ Jacobsen, who will be on a satellite Honda racing effort.
With two Americans in the World Superbike Championship, and both on Hondas, we hope to see the series getting more attention in the USA.
Source: Red Bull Honda; Photo: © 2017 Scott Jones / Photo.GP – All Rights Reserved