SZOKE AIMS TO ADD TO RACE CITY SUCCESS TORONTO, Ont. (June 23) -- Jordan Szoke will try to regain the lead in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Race City Motorsport Park this weekend, and there probably isn't a better place for the ...
SZOKE AIMS TO ADD TO RACE CITY SUCCESS
TORONTO, Ont. (June 23) -- Jordan Szoke will try to regain the lead in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Race City Motorsport Park this weekend, and there probably isn't a better place for the five-time national champion to get his campaign back on track.
Szoke has won eight Superbike races on the 3.2km (2.0-mile) Calgary road course while nobody else has won more than four, and the Brantford, Ont. racer has been victorious in three of the last four races at the track.
Race City was also the scene of his first ever Canadian Superbike win back in 1998, when he was on his way to his first national crown.
"I've had a lot of success there and I'm excited to get back," says the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory rider, who is looking for a fourth straight Parts Canada Superbike crown. "I don't know exactly what it is, but I just seem to get along with this place. I've got some good memories here, and the scene of your first big win will always be a special place."
Szoke comes into this weekend's third round of the seven-race national tour in an unfamiliar position, as he sits second in the point standings, six points behind the leader, Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Racing's Brett McCormick of Saskatoon. It's the first time since the end of the 2005 season that a rider other than Szoke has been at the top of the Canadian rankings. However the defending champion has no plans to throw in the towel.
"It's a long season and it's not over yet," the 30-year-old Szoke says. "And if there's anybody who knows that it's me. A lot of people are talking about Brett but I'm a five-time champion and I still have a few things left in my bag. I'm just going to be plugging away as normal.
"We're getting back to some race tracks that I enjoy and I'm excited to do well in the upcoming races."
Szoke feels the 17-year-old McCormick will have a tough test playing the role of series leader for the first time in his young career.
"There will be points over the rest of the season where he will struggle, it happens to every rider," the Kawasaki team leader points out. "What will be key will be how well he battles through it. He doesn't have a lot of experience setting up the motorcycle and there's the pressure of being out front. He has to deal with a lot of new things.
"I've always excelled in those areas and I actually find it easier being out front. But now I just have to go out and perform. But at the end of the day I just have to beat him by one point."
McCormick is in his first season with the Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Racing outfit but Szoke is now in his fourth straight season leading the Canadian Kawasaki Motors team, and he says that experience should also play into his favour as the season unfolds.
"I think on paper the Suzuki may be the better motorcycle but I believe I have the better team," he says. "I also think we have a great motorcycle. I think we have one of the strongest motors out there, we always seem to be able to get the bike off the corners well and it's good under braking too. I think all those elements will be keys to winning this weekend."
Szoke doesn't necessarily expect this weekend's Superbike battle to be simply a fight between himself and McCormick. Chief among their rivals will likely be local ace Clint McBain of Cochrane, Alta., who won last year's Superbike event at Race City and finished second to Szoke in the final Parts Canada series point standings riding his Suzuki Dealers / Acceleration Racing entry.
However, through the first two rounds of the 2009 season Szoke and McCormick have been the class of the field as they try to match each other blow-for-blow in their title bout.
"Brett has really stepped up his game this year and I've stepped up mine as a result," Szoke says. "I think we've shown it in the first two rounds. We're going a lot quicker than we did last year. The pace has really picked up at the front."
With only seven rounds the Parts Canada Superbike Championship doesn't give riders a lot of room for error. One slip up in one race can prove catastrophic to a competitor's title aspirations.
"I think there's more pressure racing in Canada," Szoke points out. "In other countries, or the World Championship, there are more races and more opportunities to come back from trouble. But we don't have that advantage here. You just have to try and be smooth and consistent and not make any mistakes."
It figures to be a season-long duel for the Parts Canada Superbike title but this weekend's round at Race City could prove to be a critical chapter in that fight. Victory for Szoke would give him renewed momentum in his bid to equal Steve Crevier's record of six national Superbike titles. And a ninth victory on the track that gave him his first of a record 27 Canadian Superbike wins would likely feel pretty nice too.
The third round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship takes place June 26-28 at Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary. For ticket information go to www.calgarysuperbike.com.