SUPERBIKE ROOKIE HAPPY TO BE ON TRACK TORONTO, Ont. (July 10) -- There was a point last winter when it looked like motorcycle road racer Jodi Christie's career may have hit a dead end. After winning last year's Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike...
SUPERBIKE ROOKIE HAPPY TO BE ON TRACK
TORONTO, Ont. (July 10) -- There was a point last winter when it looked like motorcycle road racer Jodi Christie's career may have hit a dead end.
After winning last year's Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike title on the Parts Canada Superbike Championship national tour, the 17-year-old from Keene, Ont., near Peterborough, had secured a place in the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup, a top development series for up-and-coming racers.
But when that program was cancelled in mid-January Christie was left without a deal for 2009 and time running out fast.
Christie and his family persevered, however, and he will be front and centre at Mosport International Raceway July 17-19 as the Parts Canada Superbike Championship makes its traditional mid-season stop at the 3.9km (2.459-mile) circuit in Bowmanville, Ont.
Christie will be racing a Honda CBR600RR in the feature Parts Canada Superbike class and the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike division. The bike is entered by his family's Roz-Gar Racing team and sponsored by the Honda Powerhouse Dealers of Ontario.
"My dad went to a lot of work to make things happen," points out Christie, whose father Gary is the 'Gar' in Roz-Gar Racing. "He must have spent a solid three or four weeks straight, so props to him."
The teenager comes to Mosport eighth in the Pro Sport Bike points and 10th in the Superbike standings, where he faces a disadvantage against the more powerful 1000cc machines ridden by the majority of the field. He also ranks second in the running for the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year Award.
His rookie Pro campaign has been a character-building one for Christie, even beyond the scramble to put a racing program together. After finishing ninth in the Pro Sport Bike opener at Calabogie Motorsports Park in May and qualifying in the top 10 for the Superbike event there, he could only manage a pair of 13th-place finishes in the next event at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que.
The situation was complicated after that race when the crew that had been assisting him, ProStar Motorsports pulled out, leaving the Christies to revert to the essentially family-run program that had taken him to last year's Amateur title.
Christie showed no ill effects from the change, however, and rebounded at the most recent round at Calgary's Race City Motorsport Park at the end of June. He was ninth again in the Pro Sport Bike race and improved to 12th in Superbike, despite running on a track that with its long front straight should have favoured the 1000cc bikes.
"I just have to remind myself that it's still my rookie season," Christie explains. "And I have to remember that it's supposed to be fun. I had a tough time at the beginning of the year and I was losing that fun part. But I'm getting it back now.
"I really enjoyed the Calgary weekend. I had good starts in both races and everything went well for us. I felt good coming out of that round."
Christie expects to be able to continue that momentum at his home track of Mosport, which he ranks among his favorite circuits.
"I like the overall layout of the track," he says. "It's fast and flowing, you can carry a lot of corner speed. It's the sort of place where I feel that even if I don't get the complete bike set up I can still go well and finish a little bit better than I might somewhere else."
As an added bonus the Mosport round is the only doubleheader of the season, with feature races for both classes on Saturday and Sunday, giving Christie an excellent opportunity to pocket some valuable points.
Christie also feels he is learning what it takes to be a top Pro racer and he is looking forward to putting some of those lessons into practice at Mosport and through the second half of the season.
"At first I was surprised by how fast the Pros were right away," he explains. "After just one practice session they're at their race pace. But for me, it takes a little longer to get my confidence and get that pace going. But I'm getting better at it, I'm wrapping my head around it and I'm trying to have myself better prepared when I get to the track each day."
Christie admits that after last year's Amateur Championship run it has been tough adapting to not competing for victory every race weekend. He won three of six races in taking the 2008 title, including the Mosport event, and qualified fastest at every round.
"It's pretty weird not racing for the win," he admits, "but it's still fun. I've been in some good battles."
Once the racing season is over Christie will go into his Grade 12 year at Holy Cross Catholic School in Peterborough.
In the meantime he hopes to produce some consistent results over the remainder of the Parts Canada Superbike season.
"I'd like to end the year in the top 10 in both classes," he says. "I think the top five might be a little far-fetched with the budget we have. And I think it'd be great to get picked up by a factory team here for next season."
Anything to save his Dad a little bit of extra work over the winter, no doubt.
The fourth and fifth rounds of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship take place July 17-19 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont. For ticket information go to www.mosport.com or call 1-800- 866-1072.