CALGARY'S PERIS EYES HOME RUN TORONTO, Ont. (June 18) -- Having already tasted the excitement of international competition once, Calgary motorcycle road racer Chris Peris would like nothing better than to get back onto the world stage. But for...
CALGARY'S PERIS EYES HOME RUN
TORONTO, Ont. (June 18) -- Having already tasted the excitement of international competition once, Calgary motorcycle road racer Chris Peris would like nothing better than to get back onto the world stage.
But for 2008 the 21-year-old has his sights squarely focused on the Parts Canada Superbike Championship, this country's premier racing series.
Peris and his Calgary-based Team Suzuki/Blackfoot/Picotte Racing team will resume their quest for the national title at Race City Motorsports Park June 27-29. The squad is coming off a tough start to the campaign at Calabogie Motorsport Park, near Ottawa. Peris crashed out of both the Parts Canada Superbike and Yoshimura Pro 600 Sport Bike races while running at the front, leaving him with a lot of ground to make up in the remainder of the seven-round series.
But Peris is optimistic heading into his home event.
"We should be in pretty good shape," he said. "We'll be going into Race City with the bikes a little better than they were at Calabogie. The team has been working hard and we've been making progress with the set-up. We keep going the right way, we keep getting closer."
Peris has returned to Canada this summer after spending most of the past two seasons trying to make the grade in the World Supersport Championship, one of the top racing series on the planet. But Peris found running with a relatively small team and with little experience in international racing a tough challenge.
"There are very few teams running on such huge budgets," he explained. "We were definitely one of the smaller teams and it was pretty tough. It would be nice to ride on one of the bigger teams with a little more experience. That's my goal down the road."
Frustrated with his lack of success in Europe, Peris put together a deal for 2008 to ride Suzukis in the AMA Superbike Championship in the United States. But fresh off the opening round of that series in Daytona in March, he got the call to replace two-time national Superbike champion Pascal Picotte on the Canadian factory Suzuki team.
"It's great being able to just show up and ride for a big factory team," said Peris. "Before we were always racing on our own and we always seemed to be that little bit behind, and running late, and not quite as well prepared. It's a good feeling being able to just show up and race."
Peris seemed to take little time adjusting to his new environment. He was second quickest to two-time defending Parts Canada Superbike Champion Jordan Szoke during two days of preseason testing in Jennings, Fla. in April. Then he was right on the frontrunning pace when the Canadian series kicked off at Calabogie in late May.
Peris led the first eight laps of the 14-lap Pro 600 Sport Bike race on his Suzuki GSX-R600 before being passed by Szoke. He was lining up a move to retake the lead with two laps to go when he fell.
"I was pushing the front end a little more towards the end of the race," Peris recalled, "and I just ended up tucking the front end."
Peris bruised his leg quite badly in the crash but was able to take part in the Superbike event later in the day. Riding his Suzuki GSX-R1000, he was in a battle for third place with teammate Matt McBride when the pair collided going into turn 1.
"We were coming up on a lapper and I passed on the inside and I guess Matt went around the outside," Peris said. "We just ended up tangling together."
Peris will be hoping his fortunes improve at Race City, a venue where he has had success in the past. He won the Pro 600 Sport Bike event there in 2004.
"It's a difficult track," he explained. "If you're leading you really need to break away, because with the long straight it's very easy for someone to draft you. I think definitely the race next weekend could go right down to the wire."
A strong result next weekend will put Peris on track toward a potential first career Canadian Superbike title, and maybe another shot on the international stage.
"I would definitely like to get back there [to Europe]," he said. "I wouldn't mind getting on a World Superbike. But right now my focus is on this season. That's the priority."
Round 2 of the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike Championship will be held at Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary June 27-29. The event is the second of seven races at five venues for Canada's premier motorcycle road racing series.
The Track: Race City Motorsport Park is a 3.2km (2.0-mile), 11-turn road course. This will be the 27th Canadian Superbike event at the track, which has the second longest tenure on the national tour.
Weekend Schedule: Practice will be held Friday, June 27 with qualifying for all classes on Saturday afternoon. Feature races will run Sunday afternoon.
Tickets: Call the track at (403) 272-7223 or go to the website at www.racecity.com