CHAMP SAYS BEST IS YET TO COME TORONTO, Ont. (May 15) -- Defending Parts Canada Superbike champion Jordan Szoke has some bad news for his rivals in the country's premier motorcycle road racing series -- there's a lot more left in the...
CHAMP SAYS BEST IS YET TO COME
TORONTO, Ont. (May 15) -- Defending Parts Canada Superbike champion Jordan Szoke has some bad news for his rivals in the country's premier motorcycle road racing series -- there's a lot more left in the tank.
The 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. is gunning for his fourth straight national Superbike title and sixth overall this summer. While some athletes in his position may have trouble keeping up their intensity and maintaining that competitive edge, Szoke is having no such difficulties.
"I feel like the pace I'm doing gets easier every year," says Szoke, who is entering his fourth year racing for the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory team. "I seem to be able to go a little faster every year. I think I'm still on the rise, that there's still a lot to come. And as I get older I think I appreciate the experience I have."
Szoke opens his title defense at Calabogie Motorsports Park May 22- 24. This will be the second visit to the facility near Ottawa for the Parts Canada Superbike tour and Szoke used victory there last May to launch his run to a third straight national title.
Next weekend the series will use a different, longer layout of the track than what was run last year. Szoke thinks the new configuration, which measures 5.05km (3.05-miles), plays to his advantages.
"I prefer the longer, more technical tracks; they seem to suit my style," he explains. "You have to get the set-up of the motorcycle just right, and a lot of work goes into piecing the lap together. Tracks like this one and Mosport [International Raceway] play to my strengths."
In each of his past three title-winning seasons Szoke has made a quick start out of the gate work to his advantage. He has been able to jump out to an early lead and force his rivals to play catch-up.
"I want to come out strong in the first few rounds and get off to a fast start like I've done in the past," he explains.
He expects his toughest challenge to come from Cochrane, Alta. racer Clint McBain (Suzuki Dealers Acceleration Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000), who placed second in the standings last year and equaled Szoke's total of three race wins. McBain was forced to miss the Calabogie round with a separated shoulder.
Other rivals will likely include Szoke's former Kawasaki teammate Brett McCormick. During the off-season the 17-year-old from Saskatoon moved over to the Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Motorsports squad. Kevin Lacombe of Granby, Que. was second at Calabogie last May and leads the Team Toyota Yamaha / OTSFF outfit.
Szoke could have an advantage in that, while McCormick and Lacombe will be adapting to new equipment, he will be continuing with the same Kawasaki ZX-10R that served him so well last summer.
Szoke will also be gunning for a fourth straight championship in the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike support division of the national series. In this class he will have a new motorcycle, the heavily updated ZX-6R, but the bike's impressive early form in testing has the champ feeling confident heading to Calabogie.
"I'm really excited to race that bike after how well things went down south [in testing]," says Szoke, who also won the Pro Sport Bike feature at Calabogie last year. "Superbike is still my first love, but I'm amazed the 600 [Sport Bike] can be that good. We had some issues with the front end on the old bike last year and those have been addressed on this model. I still can't believe how much corner speed I can carry."
With each Superbike title and race win Szoke edges closer to history. No one has won four straight Superbike crowns in the 30-year history of the national series, and a sixth championship would draw Szoke level with Steve Crevier for the most titles in history. Szoke also enters the season tied with Crevier for the most Canadian Superbike wins all-time with 26.
"I guess sometimes I forget about that stuff," Szoke admits. "I don't look back at how many races I've won, or championships, to me that's old news. I look at every year as a fresh start.
"I put pressure on myself all the time, more than anyone else puts on me. And with the economy the way it's been I think I feel it more. I want to keep winning and keep my job."
That sort of motivation is ominous for Szoke's challengers. Anyone who manages to snatch the Parts Canada Superbike crown from Szoke won't get it easily.
"I think we definitely have the edge this year," he maintains. "Brett's on a new bike and team, Kevin's got a new bike and team. I think in years past there's definitely been greater depth. This year I expect to win."
The opening round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship takes place May 22-24 at Calabogie Motorsports Park. For ticket information visit www.calabogiemotorsports.com.
Andrew Nelson and Jordan Szoke will be guests on the 'A Morning' television show on Thursday, May 21.