Jake Gagne who is the current MotoAmerica champion, will make a one-time wildcard appearance in Portimao later this season marking his WorldSBK comeback.
The Former WorldSBK rider for Red Bull Honda competed in the world championship for two seasons before joining MotoAmerica as Cameron Beaubier’s teammate in the Moto2 division.
Gagne competed for Honda at a period when the Japanese company was struggling to be anything other than a midfield outfit, and he only achieved four top ten finishes in 2018.
The American rider who has won 25 of the last 34 MotoAmerica races, has been nothing short of amazing as he pursues a second straight championship.
The British Superbike championship winner Tarran Mackenzie made a one-off appearance with the Japanese manufacturer last month at Donington Park, and the 29-year-old will do so again on a Yamaha R1 modified by the Attack Performance team with technical assistance from Yamaha Europe.
Gagne last competed in WSBK between 2018 and 2019. He did so on the uncompetitive Ten Kate Honda package, where he achieved his best performance of ninth at Laguna Seca in his second season and then repeated it in the championship final at Losail that same year.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to line up on the World Superbike grid,” said the American rider. “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!”
Currently trailing veteran MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci in the standings, Gagne has more victories in 2022 than the Italian, but pivotal crashes have opened the door for Petrucci, including the most recent race weekend when Gagne crashed out of the lead.
Gagne, who had been strongly connected with a full-time return to Yamaha, has a significant opportunity to impress since GRT Yamaha has yet to confirm riders for either of their 2023 WorldSBK seats.
Tarran Mackenzie, the defending British Superbike champion, and Gagne are both viewed as favorites for the GRT ride.
“We are looking forward to welcoming Jake back to the World Superbike paddock,” added Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager. “After an amazing season in 2021, he’s once again fighting for the title this year, confirming his high level of performance.”
“We are always looking to give riders who have been successful in their national series the opportunity to race on the world stage.”
“After we had the winner of the British Superbike championship, Tarran Mackenzie, wildcard at Donington Park, we’re glad that the reigning MotoAmerica Superbike champion will be able to join us at Portimao.”
“We know that it won’t be an easy challenge, but we are ready to support him during the event and wish him and the Attack Performance team all the best for the weekend.”
With the Attack Performance team, Gagne dominated the MotoAmerica series last year, winning all but two of the 18 races that made up the nine rounds. He defeated Mathew Scholtz, his closest challenger, by nearly 100 points.
With three rounds remaining, he is now involved in a title race with former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci’s HSBK Ducati to retain his title. The two riders are split by just 13 points.
He previously competed in wildcard events in 2018 and 2019 with the Attack Performance squad, both times in Laguna Seca, with Josh Herrin and JD Beach, respectively.