GAGNE & JA­COB­SEN IN, BRADL OUT…

Fast Bikes - - PIT PASS -

Just prior to us go­ing to print, it was an­nounced that Amer­i­can Jake Gagne would be join­ing Leon Camier in the Ten Kate Red Bull Honda squad for WSB in 2018. Now, did this take us by sur­prise? A lit­tle bit of yes, and a lit­tle bit no, if we’re com­pletely hon­est.

Ste­fan Bradl looked lost at sea dur­ing 2017, and the woes of the new Honda Fire­blade can’t have helped at all ei­ther. Most GP refugees take a while to ac­cli­ma­tise to WSB (it took Bi­aggi and Checa five sea­sons to win their first WSB ti­tles), the bikes, tyres, and the fact that the rid­ers there are pretty good, but Bradl was woe­ful, only show­ing the briefest of glimpses and even then, usu­ally out­side of the top ten. He was hit by in­jury dur­ing the year, too, so when you add all of that up and in­clude the bike’s is­sues, this does not a happy Ste­fan make, not one bit...

Had he jumped on some­thing a lit­tle less un­der­de­vel­oped, a dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­turer per­haps, this could be an en­tirely dif­fer­ent story right now. But he didn’t, and fromwhat we hear is now look­ing to be a test rider for Honda rather than race. Which is a huge pity, be­cause he is un­doubt­edly a tal­ent and some­one who could go well in WSB on the right bike. It’s also a pity, as we would have as­sumed that he’d want to try and prove to all that his mis­er­able de­but Su­per­bike sea­son isn’t what he’s all about. But then sign­ing for an­other team (when all the top rides are gone) is an­other risk, and per­haps one too far for Bradl. What a shame, but we won’t rule out a rac­ing re­turn for him en­tirely, at least not yet.

Mean­while, Gagne deputised for Bradl on a few oc­ca­sions and the team were ap­par­ently im­pressed with him and his work ethic, even if the re­sults weren’t what one would de­scribe as bril­liant. He is a mul­ti­ple cham­pion in the US of A though, in sev­eral classes and he won the Red Bull Rook­ies a few years back, too. Added to that, he’s al­ready a Red Bull ‘ath­lete’, so los­ing an­other Red Bull man, Bradl, hasn’t quite hurt the ti­tle spon­sor as much as it could have.

And thus we have an Amer­i­can back in WSB, but wait, for there is an­other! PJ Ja­cob­sen has also joined the ranks on yet an­other Honda Fire­blade, with the Triple M squad. Af­ter a few years fight­ing for (and los­ing…) the World Su­pers­port crown he’s de­cided to jump in with the big boys. He has of course raced litre bikes be­fore, win­ning in Bri­tish Su­per­stock be­fore a so-so sea­son in BSB, both with the (then) TAS Suzuki bunch. In fact, PJ could be a dark horse for top Honda next year although beat­ing Camier will be a tough ask.

In fact, Camier has taken to his new role at Ten Kate with verve, and even in test­ing he and the bike were look­ing good, mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Could this be the year Honda come good again in WSB? Time will tell…

Jake im­pressed at his home round in the USA, enough for a call back! One happy chappy! Camier is al­ready on the case!

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