Jake Gagne says this has been his toughest race of the season so far, but he still ended up quickest in Q1 at Brainerd International Raceway on Friday. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Based on Friday’s Q1 from Brainerd International Raceway on Friday, we may just have a battle or two on our hands come race time on Saturday and Sunday in the MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike class.

Again, the field was led by runaway championship leader Jake Gagne on his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha, but for the second round in a row he’s got Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz nipping at his heels.

When all was said and done on Friday, it was Gagne atop the timesheets but by just .128 of a second over Baz, the two turning laps of 1:30.572 and 1:30.700, respectively. And those two were the only two riders in the 1:30s, though M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teamsters Cameron Petersen and Bobby Fong were both less than a second off Gagne’s pace.

Petersen ended the session third with his 1:31.22, just ahead of teammate Fong’s 1:31.433 and the last rider in the 1:31s, Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and his 1:31.614.

Scheibe Racing’s Hector Barbera and Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s JD Beach were sixth and seventh fastest with FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward, Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders and FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony rounding out the top 10.

Beach is filling in for Josh Herrin on the Attack team with Herrin testing positive for COVID-19, which forced him out of racing at BIR. Another non-starter in this weekend’s two HONOS Superbike races is Panera Bread Ducati’s Kyle Wyman who has opted out due to lingering issues with the elbow he broke at Road America in June.

Gagne knows this one has the potential to be a battle as AMA Superbikes returned to Brainerd International Raceway for the first time since 2004.

“This has been the biggest struggle all season long, for sure,” Gagne said. “Of course, we are still right there at the front but it’s really close. “We learned a lot in this session. We did some shock changes and we kinda know what shock we want to run tomorrow. I was having some weird issues in the middle of the turn and getting the rear to feel like I want it to. This track is different than anything else that we go to. Again, we did a little testing but it’s still new and the track changes every weekend, so we have to still do a little homework and make this bike a little easier to ride. We’re just struggling in a couple of sections.”

M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly led Supersport Q1, the Floridian just .196 of a second ahead of class rookie Rocco Landers on the Landers Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 with HONOS HVMC Racing’s Richie Escalante just a tick over a second off the pace. Escalante also suffered a lowside crash in Q1. Kelly’s best lap was a 1:32.999 on the 2.5-mile racetrack in Minnesota’s popular resort town.

Veloce Racing’s David Kohlstaedt, who has finished third in the last four SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup races, shot to the top of Q1, .245 of a second faster than Rodio Racing’s Gus Rodio with Veloce Racing’s Maxwell Toth third.

Landers Racing’s Benjamin Gloddy, who is second in the title chase, ended Q1 in fourth – one spot better than championship leader Tyler Scott and his Scott Powersports KTM.

Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis was the fastest of the fast in Stock 1000, the Kentuckian .166 of a second faster than Chuckwalla Valley Raceway/Octane Lending’s Michael Gilbert with MESA37’s Stefano Mesa third, just .282 off Lewis’ best.

Twins Cup ended Friday with Jody Barry on top of Q1 with a 1:37.030 on his Righteous Racing Aprilia RS 660. Teagg Hobbs was second best on his Innovative Motorsports/Mike’s Imports Suzuki SV650 with Jackson Blackmon Racing’s Jackson Blackmon third on his new Yamaha YZF-R7, putting three different manufacturers on the provisional front row.

The Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. series kicked off with its first practice session at BIR, with the all-female class led by CJ Lukacs over Trisha Dahl and Alyssa Bridges.

Superbike Q1

  1. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:30.572
  2. Loris Baz (Ducati) 1:30.700
  3. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki) 1:31.222
  4. Bobby Fong (Suzuki) 1:31.433
  5. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) 1:31.614
  6. Hector Barbera (BMW) 1:32.300
  7. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:32.737
  8. Bradley Ward (Suzuki) 1:33.837
  9. Max Flinders (Yamaha) 1:33.976
  10. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:34.184
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