Mosport: Series spotlight - Jodi Christie

CHRISTIE SET TO TAKE NEXT STEP AT MOSPORT TORONTO, Ont. (July 5) - Rising Canadian road racing star Jodi Christie has fond memories of Mosport International Raceway, even though he has every excuse to hate the place. At last year's round of...

CHRISTIE SET TO TAKE NEXT STEP AT MOSPORT

TORONTO, Ont. (July 5) - Rising Canadian road racing star Jodi Christie has fond memories of Mosport International Raceway, even though he has every excuse to hate the place.

At last year's round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship on the fabled 3.9km (2.459-mile) circuit Christie suffered a high speed crash in turn two.

"It was a scary crash," remembers the 17-year-old from Keene, Ont. "It was the Sunday morning practice session, the track was cold and I was a gear lower than usual. The engine braking came in a little bit harder than I expected, the rear kicked out sideways and I was pitched over the top and I landed in the straw bales at the bottom of the hill."

Battered and bruised but with no broken bones, Christie was back on his Honda CBR600RR to compete in that afternoon's Pro Sport Bike race, in which he finished seventh to go with a fifth place result in the previous day's round.

More significantly, he gained ground in the chase for the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year award, which he eventually won.

And despite the Sunday morning crash Christie considers the Mosport weekend a key event in his successful rookie campaign.

"That round was probably our best," Christie says. "We had our best finishes and we were close to [eventual series champion Jordan] Szoke's lap times. It was a real confidence booster."

Christie comes into this weekend's fourth and fifth rounds of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Mosport not as a rookie Pro but as a firm challenger for Szoke's Pro Sport Bike title. While Szoke has won each of the three races leading up to this event, Christie has been a constant thorn in his side.

In the season opener at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. Christie qualified his Jodi Christie Racing / Durham Honda Powerhouse Honda CBR600RR second to Szoke and grabbed the lead off the line. Szoke eventually took the win but his young rival was only 0.503 secs. behind at the finish.

Two weeks ago in the doubleheader round at Calgary's Race City Motorsport Park Christie was the only rider able to offer a challenge to Szoke over the course of the races. In the first event Szoke edged Christie by 0.159 secs. at the finish. A day later the two Honda riders were at it again, trading the lead back and forth over the final lap. Incredibly Szoke's margin of victory was only 0.128 secs., less than the previous day.

Three races and Szoke's combined margin of victory over Christie hasn't been even a full second!

"We gave it our best shot and that's all that counts," says the calm and unflappable Christie. "We keep on putting out a strong effort."

The battle will be rejoined at Mosport, where Christie will try to outwit and outride the 31-year-old Szoke, who is bidding for a fifth straight Pro Sport Bike crown.

"What I've learned in the Sport Bike class is you have to be on the ball every lap," he explains. "You always have to be ready to seize any opportunity."

While the focus of Christie's attention is on the Pro Sport Bike category, he has also enjoyed some strong results in the feature Parts Canada Superbike division. Despite giving away 400cc to the likes of championship leader Szoke, Christie scored an impressive second place finish in the Circuit ICAR season opener, again pressuring his more experienced rival every step of the way.

Christie was expected to face a greater disadvantage at Calgary's Race City, where the long front straight gives the 1000cc bikes a major advantage. Still, Christie finished 10th and ninth in the two races, putting some supposedly faster machinery to shame in the process.

He comes to Mosport fifth in the point standings and feels he may be able to provide more of a threat in this weekend's pair of races.

"It's a shorter front straight," Christie points out, "so if I can get a good start and be with the front pack into the first turn I think I can hang onto the leaders. The problem at Calgary was that the straight was so long, even if you made a good start the bigger bikes would just drag right back past you before you even started braking for the first turn.

"I'm hoping we can get into the top five in Superbike this weekend."

Christie is a big fan of the legendary Mosport track, where he scored an Amateur Sport Bike win in 2008 on his way to the national title. The venue, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer has hosted World Championship events in the past and was the site of Canada's first ever Superbike event back in 1978.

"I love how fast it is, how the corners flow and link together; it's a great place to race," enthuses Christie.

Not even a high speed crash has dulled his enthusiasm for the place. Now that's saying something.

*****

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: www.cdnsuperbike.com

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