Series spotlight - Francis Martin

FORMER CHAMPION WAITS HIS TURN TORONTO, Ont. (June 4) -- Two-time Canadian Superbike champion Francis Martin is learning the value of patience. After regularly battling at the front of the field in the feature class of the Parts Canada...

FORMER CHAMPION WAITS HIS TURN

TORONTO, Ont. (June 4) -- Two-time Canadian Superbike champion Francis Martin is learning the value of patience.

After regularly battling at the front of the field in the feature class of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship for over a decade, the Sherbrooke, Que. rider has taken a step back in 2009. However, he is hoping it leads to a major step forward in 2010.

The 35-year-old Martin is leading the BMW Motorrad Canada challenge in the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike support class this year, riding the twin- cylinder HP2. The bike is at a disadvantage to its four-cylinder rivals in the class but Martin is working steadily towards trying to make it a competitive package.

He finished 14th in the season opener at Calabogie Motorsports Park last month but says better results are around the corner.

"For sure I am not used to finishing 14th," Martin admitted as he looked ahead to the second round of the national tour at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. June 12-14. "But there is no pressure from BMW. They are hoping for a top 10 for the year and I think we have a good shot at that for the next round. Every time we went out on the track at Calabogie we dropped out times and we are getting good experience."

Last year Martin raced for the Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Motorsports squad. He finished sixth in the Parts Canada Superbike standings with a top finish of third at Mosport International Raceway. During the off- season he made the switch to the BMW factory team, where he is partnered with Mississauga, Ont. rider Michael Ferreira.

The BMW HP2 competed in the now-defunct Canadian Thunder category last year. But when that class was ended changes were made to the Sport Bike rules so the BMW could join. The 1170cc twin cylinder bike is allowed to race with 140 horsepower compared to 125cc for the 600cc inline four- cylinder bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha, but it also must weight 50 pounds heavier at 400 pounds.

But while Martin patiently develops the HP2 this summer he can't help but look forward to 2010. BMW Motorrad Canada hopes to move up to the feature Superbike class with its S1000 RR. The bike has made its debut in the World Superbike Championship this season.

"For sure the S 1000 is what motivates me," Martin acknowledged. "When I started talking to BMW last year about joining the team the possibility of racing the Superbike was very exciting. I'm sure with the people there, and with good people around, we have a good shot at doing very well with that bike."

In the more immediate future, however, Martin is looking forward to racing in his home province at Circuit ICAR. The Moto Journal-sponsored event is the first Canadian Superbike national to be held in Quebec since 2007 and the first Parts Canada Superbike event for the venue on the Mirabel airport grounds.

Martin was one of a number of riders who tested at the track last August and he was among the quickest.

"I think it's a nice track, and we need a track in Quebec," he said. "It's a little bumpy from the joints in the concrete but I think it will be a good challenge for everybody. It's nice because it means every track we race on in Canada is a little different and I think that makes things interesting. I've always liked tight tracks and technical tracks, so I think this one will suit me."

*****

The second round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship takes place June 12-14 at Circuit ICAR. For ticket information call (514) 955-4227 or visit www.circuiticar.com.

-credit: www.cdnsuperbike.com

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Series CSBK
Drivers Francis Martin