American rider Jake Gagne eventually got signed and sealed as a 2018 Red Bull Honda rider and at Jerez he was finally delivered into the paddock he had at least some experience of as a stand-in rider in 2017.
He rode a bike with the same Cosworth electronics on it that he had used in 2017, not the 2018 Magneti Marelli material he will use for his rookie full WorldSBK season.
It made for a relatively straightforward transition on day one at Jerez. “It is pretty familiar as we still have the same electronics system,” Gagne told bikesportnews.com at the track.
“They are still working on the new stuff. I had a good day the first time on the Superbike since Qatar. It shook off the cobwebs a little bit. And I got a lot of laps in, which was great. We also made some progress, some chassis changes and electronics changes, and we made a little progress every time we got on the bike. We had some good ideas for what I need to work on too, for my riding style. Some ides we can continue to work on for the bike on the second day.”
Now, without the pressure of expectation of being a wildcard or stand-in rider, and getting little practice time before going racing, Gagne can take a different view - as far as bike set-up is concerned at least. And he thinks permanent rider position will be an important step.
“It is huge, coming in straight for Friday free practice and the next day qualifying - that is a lot to take in,” said Gagne. “This is my first day where we can have a test where I can ride all day and it is not time, time, time in the session. That helps a lot. I did not want to do anything crazy, but get a lot of laps in, not make any crazy mistakes and keep the thing up on two wheels. That is what we did and with the changes we made on day one, we got some good information.”
Gagne and his team-mate Leon Camier will try out the 2018 Magneti Marelli electronics at the next test in Portimao, between 28 and 29 January.