CHAMP SZOKE READY TO MAKE HISTORY STIRLING, Ont. (September 1) -- Jordan Szoke has won a lot of championships in his motorcycle racing career but it is unlikely any of them would quite measure up to capturing the Parts Canada Superbike ...
CHAMP SZOKE READY TO MAKE HISTORY
STIRLING, Ont. (September 1) -- Jordan Szoke has won a lot of championships in his motorcycle racing career but it is unlikely any of them would quite measure up to capturing the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Shannonville Motorsport Park this weekend.
The 30-year-old Szoke is looking to wrap up a record fourth straight national Superbike title at Shannonville on Sunday and claim his sixth Canadian crown, which would tie him with the legendary Steve Crevier for the most titles in the 30-year history of the national tour.
Earlier this year Szoke surpassed Crevier for first place in the all- time Superbike wins list. He now has 29 race victories to Crevier's 26.
"I'm thinking about it a lot," admitted the Brantford, Ont. racer. "I think if I can win this championship I wouldn't be compared to him [Crevier] so much anymore. That would give me the lead in all the statistical categories and that means a lot to me."
Only one racer can deny Szoke his date with history this weekend, and that is 18-year-old Brett McCormick. The Saskatoon racer comes to Shannonville trailing the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory rider by 14 points in the Parts Canada Superbike standings with 56 points on the table, including 50 for winning Sunday's race.
Even if McCormick were to win the season finale, a second place finish by Szoke would likely be enough to wrap up his sixth national Superbike championship, and that's where he has finished in each of McCormick's three race wins this year.
There is a little extra bit of motivation for Szoke to win the championship as well, as if he needed any more. He and McCormick were team- mates on the Kawasaki racing team in 2007 and 2008 before the teenager switched to the Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Racing squad this season.
"I think there's a little grudge there, with the way he [McCormick] left the team," Szoke said. "That makes me want to win more than ever."
This has certainly been one of the toughest title fights Szoke has had on his hands. In his previous three championship seasons he has grabbed a fast start out of the gate, allowing him to manage his points lead over the latter stages of the season.
In 2006 he won the first five races of the year and the following season he claimed the first three. In 2008 he got an early boost when his closest challenger, Clint McBain missed the first race of the season due to injury.
But this year McCormick has fought Szoke tooth and nail for the top spot and even held the points lead through two rounds early in the season, something no one had managed during Szoke's current reign at the top.
"I think this year has been the most competitive and I think I've elevated my game to match the challenge from Brett," Szoke admitted. "Everywhere we've gone this year I've been faster than I was last year, and as a whole this year I think I'm riding the best I ever have."
Szoke will have more than McCormick to worry about in terms of getting the points he needs to clinch the Parts Canada Superbike Championship this weekend. Suzuki Dealers / Acceleration Racing's Clint McBain has scored podium finishes in two of the past three races and Kevin Lacombe, riding for the Team Toyota Yamaha / OTSFF squad, has two Shannonville Superbike wins to his credit.
"The thing is, we all grew up there so everybody knows the track well and is comfortable there," Szoke explained. "The Superbike race is a little bit up in the air. A guy like Lacombe is going to be tough to beat. I was really impressed with his race pace at Mosport [International Raceway] earlier this year. His longevity and endurance were impressive."
Szoke has had almost a month since the last round of the national series at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Nova Scotia to contemplate his championship defense.
"Taking a break was not a bad thing," he said. "I'm riding all the time. I think if anything the break has been better for me. Brett has to win [this weekend] and I think he's got the most pressure. He's probably the most anxious."
While Szoke has made a name for himself in road racing, he excels in other forms of motorcycle sport as well. He recently won the Canadian National Trials championship in Quebec and will represent Canada at the international Trails des Nations in Italy on September 20.
Trials is a form of off road motorcycle competition that couldn't be more different from road racing. It requires riders to negotiate a series of natural obstacles, using balance and agility rather than raw speed. But Szoke, who competed in Trials for the first time when he was six years old, finds it to be excellent training for his pavement competition.
"It teaches you patience and precision," he explained. "It's so specialized with the way you use the clutch and the brakes. But anytime you're riding a motorcycle I think it's good training."
It will be back to the pavement for Szoke this weekend as he tries to lock up that sixth Canadian Superbike title and aim to step out of Crevier's long shadow.
"I've tried to prepare the best I can," he said, "and I'm ready to win."
The final round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship take place this weekend, Sept. 4-6, at Shannonville Motorsport Park in Shannonville, Ont. For ticket information phone (613) 969-1906 (toll free 1- 800-959-8955) or email email@example.com.