Gagne In The Clutch: Overcoming The Fickle Finger Of Fate

Gagne started out in motocross, and some habits, like a right finger on the brake lever and a left finger on the clutch lever, are difficult to overcome. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

HONOS Superbike rider Jake Gagne has had an ongoing issue with the clutch on his Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R1 this season, while his teammate Cameron Beaubier hasn’t. When two riders are aboard virtually the same equipment and racing for the same team, and one rider experiences the same recurring technical issue while the other rider doesn’t, that usually rules out any kind of mechanical defect or component weakness and suggests that it may be caused by something that the rider is doing.

In Saturday’s race one last weekend at Superbikes at The Brickyard, it was notable that Gagne was able to successfully launch his bike off the starting line three consecutive times (counting the original start and the two restarts that occurred because of two separate red-flag race stoppages), and he didn’t experience any problems at all with the clutch.

After the race, we asked Gagne if he has overcome the problem, and here is what he said:

“Yeah. I’ve had to do some things differently with me starting it, being a little easier on the clutch, and doing a couple little things different. I grew up racing moto(cross). I’m kind of a ‘finger-on-the-front-brake’ rider, just getting a feel, and doing a lot of clutch-slipping. But, I was slipping it a little too much and not letting the electronics do the job. So, I just kind of had to relax on it a little bit, be a little bit easier on the clutch, and just let the Yamaha’s electronics do the job. That’s what we did today. For us to make it through three starts, with the issues we’ve had, I know the team will be happy. But again, a lot of it was just on me and me starting this thing the way it wants to be started.”