It was a mixed bag of results for the two Americans in Portugal on Friday with Attack Performance Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne struggling a bit at the Algarve circuit, the two-time MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion spending more time on pit lane than on track in his return to the Superbike World Championship. Gerloff, meanwhile, was on the other end of the timesheets with the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team rider ending the day third-fastest after leading the morning’s FP1 session.
At the end of FP2, Gagne had completed 14 laps (World Championship leader Alvaro Bautista had the most laps with 22) with a best lap of 1:42.760, which placed him 19th and 2.040 seconds off the fastest lap of the day set by Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s Toprak Razgatlioglu. Gagne improved his lap times from FP1 to FP2 by .319 of a second.
“An interesting day for sure, a lot to take in, a lot of new things,” Gagne said after his first day. “We got some laps, and I think we learned a lot and got some data for tomorrow. We messed around a lot, pretty much all day, with trying to get some engine brake stuff set up so that’s what we really focused on. We didn’t really get to focus on the bike at all. Obviously, with me, I just have to figure out these Pirellis. We did a little test, but when you come here to this track, it’s a different world and a whole different way of riding. Just have to work on that and stay calm and not worry about where we are on the timesheets and just worry about making progress.”
Gerloff had a solid day in Portimao with the Texan ending the day third-fastest. Gerloff’s best lap of 1:41.082 came in FP1, and it was just .362 of a second slower than Razgatlioglu’s best, which came in FP2.
“A rollercoaster day for sure. In the morning everything felt pretty good with the bike, and we were quick from the very beginning,” Gerloff said in a team release. “Unfortunately, we struggled a little bit more in the afternoon with the higher track temperature, but we leave this evening with some ideas on where we can improve tomorrow.”
Gagne’s FP2 saw him complete four laps before pitting. He then returned to the track with 26 minutes to go in the session before pitting again two laps later. He went back out with 15 minutes to go and did one slow lap before pitting again. The Californian, who now calls Colorado home, went on track again with four minutes left, did one good lap, and then slowed again.
While Gerloff’s Yamaha YZF-R1 was clocked at 193.4 mph, Gagne’s best top speed was 184 mph.
“We were coming in and going out all day long,” Gagne said. “Honestly, just trying to get some engine braking stuff dialed in. With the tires being different, the shape of them, the profile of them, that’s literally what we’ve done all day. I’ve been in and out, in and out and not really able to do a lot of long runs. I still have to wrap my head around the tires and how to ride them and, obviously, the track too. For me, I like to do a lot of laps and get comfortable, and I really didn’t get to do that today. We’re learning, and we have some good information to go into tomorrow.”
With Razgatlioglu’s 1:40.720 leading the way, it was Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi second-fastest with his 1:40.965 coming in the first session. Gerloff was third with Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK’s Jonathan Rea fourth and Rinaldi’s teammate Bautista fifth.