MILLSON MAKES MOSPORT RETURN TORONTO, Ont. (July 8) -- Although he currently lives in Hamilton, competing at Mosport International Raceway represents a sort of homecoming for Parts Canada Superbike Championship racer Ross Millson. The ...
MILLSON MAKES MOSPORT RETURN
TORONTO, Ont. (July 8) -- Although he currently lives in Hamilton, competing at Mosport International Raceway represents a sort of homecoming for Parts Canada Superbike Championship racer Ross Millson.
The 26-year-old will be back at the historic road course next weekend as he takes part in the third and fourth rounds of the 2008 national motorcycle road racing tour.
Millson spent part of his childhood on a family farm in Enniskillen, about 15 minutes from the track, and as a result he found time to watch both car and motorcycle events at the storied 3.9km (2.459-mile) 10-turn race course.
"I really enjoy the track," he says. "It's a special place with a lot of history. And when I'm there next weekend I'll have a lot of friends and family cheering me on."
Millson comes to Mosport eighth in the Parts Canada Superbike standings riding the RMP Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000. He opened up the season with a career-high sixth place finish at Calabogie Motorsport Park in May, then survived for a 16th finish in a tough round at Calgary's Race City Motorsports Park in June.
Considering Millson's racing plans were up in the air until the very last minute, his quick start to the 2008 season was an unexpected boost.
He and fellow Pro racer Paul Glenn had to shut down their Go Big Racing program during the off-season. While Glenn picked up a ride in the Canadian Thunder series with the BMW Motorrad Canada factory team, Millson managed to piece together a Superbike effort with sponsorship help from Summit Gearworks, Infinet Designs, Ultimate Cycle, Bickle Tire Warmers, Turn 2 Sportbike Rentals, Essential Image, Lucas Oil and Motovan. Millson has since added backing from Heroic Leathers and some parts support from Suzuki Canada.
The new program showed its potential at Calabogie, where Millson made it into the top 10 Pirelli SuperPole single-bike qualifying session.
"I was pushing hard and I even had a little tip-over in the middle of the session," he explains. "I think that gave me a little extra motivation. It was just one of those times when you're on the track that everything seems to come together. Even without looking at the time I knew it was good enough to get into SuperPole."
Millson seemed to excel on the technical 2.81km (1.74-mile) 13-turn track. He says his experience endurance racing in the U.S.-based SunTrust MOTO-ST Series and in the Suzuki SV650 National Cup development class paid huge dividends.
"It was the sort of track where you spend a lot of time on the edge of the tire and you have to carry a lot of corner speed," he points out. "And from my SV Cup days, I'm comfortable on the edge of the tire. And it was a very physical track, and that's where my endurance experience helped."
The RMP Racing team had high hopes heading to the next round in Calgary, where the long straights of Race City's 3.2km (2.0-mile) track place a greater premium on horsepower and top speed. Millson and his small crew of brother Mark and Blaine Groves built a new engine especially for the western event, only to have it give trouble in a test at Shannonville Motorsport Park the week before.
Forced to use a stock motor that gave away some 25 horsepower to the frontrunners, Millson salvaged what he could from the race.
"It was tough," he admits. "You'd work your tail off in the infield only to have guys blow by you on the straight. Plus we had some other issues. We couldn't get the rear end to be agreeable. It was just a matter of trying to get some points."
For Mosport the team has bought a second GSX-R1000 and is planning to get the Shannonville motor put back together.
"I want a good result there," Millson says. "It's close to home and my sponsors. It's an important race for me."
Running a privateer effort against the best factory racing programs in Canada is a tough business, not only financially but also in terms of time. From 9-5 Millson manages the service department for Leggat Pontiac in Burlington, meaning any work on the race team comes in the evening or on weekends.
"It's tough when you're building two bikes and engines. It's not a one person operation and there's a lot to look after," he explains. "Sometimes it can get a bit disheartening, but when you get a good result, that makes it all worth it."
Millson is also helping out 14-year-old up-and-comer Steven Nickerson, another Hamilton based rider who has excelled in the Ontario regional scene.
"I know he's got the talent and I'd like to see him do well," Millson says. "There's not enough support out there for young riders and I'd love to help. Steven's not the only one out there. All he wants to do is ride, and to see that passion is really special."
That doesn't mean, however, that Millson is ready for retirement just yet.
"I still really enjoy riding the bike," he says. "Look at [six-time Superbike Champion] Steve Crevier. He's 42 years old. You don't have to be a young guy."
Rounds 3&4 of the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike Championship will be held at Mosport International Raceway July 18-20.
The Track: Mosport is a 3.9km (2.459-mile), 10-turn road course. This weekend's races will be the 22nd and 23rd Canadian Superbike events at the track.
Weekend Schedule: Practice and qualifying will be held Friday, July 18, with feature races on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Tickets: Call the track at 1-800-866-1072 or go to the website at www.mosport.com