SZOKE LOOKING FOR FAST START CALABOGIE, Ont. (May 20) -- For the past three years Jordan Szoke has used victory in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship season opener as a springboard to the title. He will be hoping for more of the same when...
SZOKE LOOKING FOR FAST START
CALABOGIE, Ont. (May 20) -- For the past three years Jordan Szoke has used victory in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship season opener as a springboard to the title. He will be hoping for more of the same when the 2009 season kicks off at Calabogie Motorsports Park this weekend.
The 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. will try to become the first racer to win four straight Canadian Superbike national crowns this year, and equal Steve Crevier's all-time mark of six career titles.
Szoke is back with the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory squad and will be riding the same ZX-10R that took him to last year's championship. This may prove a key advantage in his bid to come out of the blocks fast, as a number of his key series rivals have made changes during the off-season.
Szoke's former teammate in the Kawasaki squad, Saskatoon's Brett McCormick is now the sole rider for Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Motorsports and will debut the latest version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike this weekend at Calabogie.
The 17-year-old McCormick battled injuries to finish fifth in last year's title chase but ended the season on a high with his first career Superbike win at Shannonville Motorsport Park in the season finale.
Granby, Que.'s Kevin Lacombe is back on Yamaha equipment, but with a new team around him as the OTSFF squad takes over the Team Toyota Yamaha factory program. The third place finisher in last year's Superbike standings, the 26-year-old Lacombe is also breaking in a new machine, as Yamaha has come out with a new edition of the YZF-R1 for 2009.
One rider who will be in familiar surroundings this weekend will be Cochrane, Alta.'s Clint McBain, who finished runner-up to Szoke in last year's Parts Canada Superbike Championship and equaled his mark of three wins. The 36-year-old McBain is back with his Suzuki Dealers Acceleration Racing team and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 he used to such good effect last year.
Also not to be underestimated is six-time Superbike champion Crevier. The venerable 43-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C. was the sensation of Calabogie last May when he finished third in the debut of his Buell 1125R Superbike. Crevier returns with the bike, and the Deeley Racing powered by Buell factory team is hoping to unlock more magic this weekend.
Local hopes will rest with Andrew Nelson of Kars, Ont., who will ride a Yamaha YZF-R1 for his Nelson Racing Yamaha team.
A young gun worth watching will be Szoke's new partner on the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory team, Alex Welsh. The 21-year-old from Uxbridge, Ont. was last year's HJC Pro Rookie of the Year winner.
This weekend's action at Calabogie Motorsports Park also includes the opening rounds for the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike, Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike, Suzuki SV650 Cup and Honda CBR125R Challenge support classes.
Szoke is also looking for a fourth straight title in the Pro Sport Bike class and he was the winner of this race at Calabogie last year. He will have a new ZX-6R from the Kawasaki team, and the bike has shown excellent form in preseason testing. His teammate Welsh will also be aboard one of the new Kawasakis.
McCormick will race a GSX-R600 for Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Motorsports and Lacombe will be outfitted with the Team Toyota Yamaha / OTSFF YZF-R6. The Yamaha factory squad also includes 27-year-old Tony Kasper from Becker, Minn. and promising 14-year-old Royce McLean of Coaldale, Alta.
Nelson will also be among the challengers with his Nelson Racing YZF- R6.
Many eyes will be on 16-year-old Jodi Christie of Keene, Ont. last year's Amateur Sport Bike champion, Christie makes his national Pro debut this weekend riding a Honda CBR600RR for the Honda Powerhouse Dealers of Ontario / ProStar Motorsports team.
This season the rules in the Sport Bike classes have been modified to embrace the big twin cylinder motorcycles from Buell and BMW. So Crevier, Darren James of North Vancouver and New Smyrna Beach, Fla.'s Dave Estok will be racing 1125Rs for the Deeley Racing powered by Buell team. Crevier is a four-time national Sport Bike champion while James won the now defunct Canadian Thunder championship twice.
BMW Motorrad Canada steps into the Pro Sport Bike class with Francis Martin of Rock Forest, Que. and Kitchener, Ont.'s Mike Ferreira aboard the HP2. Martin is a two-time Canadian Superbike champion while Ferreira is among the up-and-comers.
Fans will get a chance to see the potential Pro superstars of the future in the Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike class. Among the favourites this weekend will be Cochrane, Alta.'s Cody Matechuk (Suzuki Dealers Acceleration Racing Suzuki GSX-R600), who won last season's Suzuki SV650 Cup national title, and Ottawa's Efram Ellenbogen (BnE Racing Yamaha YZF-R6), who placed sixth at Calabogie last year.
The Suzuki SV650 Cup and Honda CBR125R Challenge will also feature some of Canada's rising road racing talent, while the weekend is rounded out by the second race in the Pro Honda Oils Women's Challenge Cup.
Practice for this weekend's season finale opens on Friday with qualifying, including the Pirelli SuperPole for the Parts Canada Superbike class set for Saturday. Races in all national classes will go Sunday.
For ticket information go to www.calabogiemotorsports.com.
All Time Canadian Superbike National Wins
Steve Crevier (Maple Ridge, B.C.) 26; Jordan Szoke (Brantford, Ont.) 26; Pascal Picotte (Granby, Que.) 16; Rueben McMurter (London, Ont.) 12; Michel Mercier (Thetford Mines, Que.) 12; Don Munroe (Halifax, N.S.) 12; Michael Taylor (Toronto, Ont.) 10; Gary Goodfellow (Vancouver, B.C.) 8; Francis Martin (Rock Forest, Que.) 7; Clint McBain (Cochrane, Alta.) 6; Kevin Lacombe (Granby, Que.) 5; Miguel Duhamel (Repentigny, Que.) 4; Linnley Clarke (Barrie, Ont.) 3; Frank Trombino (Kleinburg, Ont.) 3, etc.
Calabogie Motorsports Park Fast Facts
--Jordan Szoke has won the season opener in each of his past three Parts Canada Superbike Championship title-winning seasons, but he did not triumph in the first race in his other two championship years, 1998 and 2002.
--The last time the Parts Canada Superbike Championship season opener was not won by the eventual champion was in 2004, when Steve Crevier was victorious in round one but Pascal Picotte claimed the series crown.
--Brett McCormick is in position to win his third straight Inside Motorcycles Pole Position Award during Saturday's Pirelli SuperPole qualifying session for the Parts Canada Superbike Championship. McCormick qualified fastest for the final two rounds of 2008 at Atlantic Motorsport Park and Shannonville Motorsport Park.
Provisional Weekend Schedule
Saturday May 23
1:15 p.m. -- 1:45 p.m. -- Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike Qualifying
1:45 p.m. -- 2:05 p.m. -- Honda CBR125R Challenge Qualifying
2:15 p.m. -- 2:50 p.m. -- Parts Canada Superbike Championship Pirelli
SuperPole Qualifying for the Inside Motorcycles Pole Position Award
3:00 p.m. -- 3:50 p.m. -- Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike Qualifying
4:00 p.m. -- 4:20 p.m. -- Suzuki SV650 Cup Qualifying
4:30 p.m. -- 4:50 p.m. -- Pro Honda Oils Women's Cup Qualifying
Sunday August 31
11:45 a.m. -- Pro Honda Oils Women's Cup Race (8 laps)
1:00 p.m. -- Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike Race (12 laps)
Honda CBR125R Challenge Race (8 laps)
Armour Bodies Amateur Sport Bike Race (10 laps)
2:50 p.m. -- Parts Canada Superbike Championship Race (20 laps)
Suzuki SV650 Cup Race (10 laps)