WELSH PLOTS SECOND HALF SERIES SURGE
TORONTO, Ont. (July 6) - The 2010 Parts Canada Superbike Championship enters its second half at Mosport International Raceway this weekend, and that suits Uxbridge, Ont.'s Alex Welsh just fine.
The 22-year-old rider for the Competition Systems Kawasaki Race Team has been frustrated with his results through the first three races of the year but says Mosport's 3.9km (2.459-mile), 10-turn track is the sort of venue where he and his Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja can excel.
"It's pretty smooth and flowing, and it's fast. I like fast tracks," says Welsh, who is in his second year riding for the Kawasaki team. "I enjoy going there and I think I speak for everybody in the series. This event is usually the highlight of the year."
Welsh says part of his enthusiasm for the Mosport circuit comes from his background as a 250cc Grand Prix racer, where maintaining momentum through the turns and carrying speed are of paramount importance.
"With my background, I like to link corners together," he explains. "With some of the other tracks, riding a Superbike, you use more of a point and shoot style. I know I'm a Superbike racer now, but Mosport takes me back to my 250cc Grand Prix days."
Welsh comes to this weekend's races, the fourth and fifth rounds of the seven-race Parts Canada Superbike tour, eighth in the series point standings. He placed seventh in the season opener at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. in May and then claimed a pair of sixths at Calgary's Race City Motorsport Park last month.
"We've had kind of a rough year so far," Welsh admits. "But now we're at the halfway point of the season and this is a good turnaround point. I think we're getting there."
Part of the problem for Welsh has been a major change surrounding the Kawasaki team for this season. Last year Welsh was partnered with Jordan Szoke in a full factory effort, however that was cut back in the off-season. Competition Systems took over the running of the squad and Welsh is now the lone rider.
"It's different," Welsh explains. "There's some good and bad points to it. There's no question I learned a lot from Jordan last year.
"Even though the guys on the team are basically the same from last year, this is my first time working directly with them. Mike Crompton does a great job with the engines, Harald Surian is excellent, but we're still getting to know how to work with each other. In my opinion this is the best team in the country. I think it's getting there."
Another change has been the suspension of Kawasaki's Pro Sport Bike program for 2010, reducing Welsh's track time.
But don't expect the dip in form to last for too long. Both Welsh and Kawasaki have a history of winning.
After riding motocross as a youngster, Welsh got his start in road racing in 2005 and a year later claimed the United States Grand Prix Racers Union (USGPRU) 250cc national title.
In 2007 Welsh ran a limited schedule of 250cc races in North America but did pick up first place in the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Road Race Grand Championships at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The following summer Welsh joined the Parts Canada Superbike Championship as a rookie, running on a slender budget with the Z1 Cycletech Triumph team in the Pro Sport Bike class. The newcomer was a sensational fifth in his debut at Calabogie Motorsports Park and went on to claim the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year title.
Welsh's excellent 2008 campaign led to a test with the Canadian Kawasaki Motors team and he was drafted into the squad to partner Szoke last year. His best results came at Mosport, when he stood on the podium in both Pro Sport Bike races and took a season high third in one of the Superbike rounds. A nasty crash at Atlantic Motorsport Park forced him to sit out the penultimate round of the season and he finished seventh in Superbike points.
Despite the lack of factory backing, the Competition Systems team is the same group that took Szoke to four straight Parts Canada Superbike and Pro Sport Bike titles between 2006 and 2009.
"I think we're getting there; it's definitely coming around," Welsh says. "Mike always builds a strong engine for this track and I go well around here."
While Welsh's father and brother are fixtures at the national rounds, the proximity of the Mosport event will allow some of his friends from Uxbridge to see him in action.
"I think I'll have some friends coming out, it's a good opportunity for them," he says. "It would be great to have some people cheering in the crowd for me."
Given Welsh's affinity for Mosport and the quality of the team behind him, his friends may have plenty to cheer about this weekend.
The fourth and fifth rounds of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship take place July 8-11 at Bowmanville, Ont.'s Mosport International Raceway. For ticket information call 1-800-866-1072 or visit www.mosport.com.
-source: cdn superbike