By Cameron Bickle
Participants in the new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class gathered with Mopar CSBK organizers to discuss the upcoming season on Saturday, with development and parity being the theme of the near two-hour seminar at the Motorcycle Show - Toronto.
Led by series owner Colin Fraser and announcer Frank Wood, the seminar featured contributions from Pro6 Cycle/Dunlop Tires, Accelerated Technologies, Bickle Racing, and the RACE Superseries, among others.
Representatives from major series supporters, such as KTM, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, and Liqui Moly, were also in attendance.
Among the topics discussed were the expected mid-season changes to class rules and regulations, as both riders and organizers prepare for a steep learning curve in the first year of the new division. With several eligible bikes from as many as four different manufacturers, the class rules may be subject to changes in order to increase parity and keep the series competitive.
"Obviously we'll be working through changes along the way,” said Fraser. "It will take some time and there will be adjustments."
The biggest question heading into the seminar was the eligibility of the Kawasaki 400, which has since been allowed to compete in the Lightweight class, however Fraser could not yet confirm the standards at which the bike will compete. The machine is widely expected to be at the forefront in 2018, but could still face a tough challenge in the KTM RC 390, which was featured in its own highly successful class in MotoAmerica over the past two seasons.
Also expected to be seen in the class are the Yamaha R3, Honda CBR500, and Kawasaki Ninja 300, among others. However, with all the potential changes and modifications coming to the series this season to limit the gap between these machines, a major talking point at the seminar was the importance of tuning.
Officials suggested using the Dyno system ahead of time to test horsepower and other specifications, while also double-checking any required spec equipment, which can be found on the Approved Equipment List.
Riders are also encouraged to make any legal changes they feel necessary to compete, with every pound expected to make a difference in a field full of different machines and experience levels. The series is still aimed at being cost-effective, said Fraser, but reduced costs for tires and suspension kits (among other things) will leave racers with options for success.
"The more competitive [the class] is, the more the small changes make a difference,” said the series owner.
Riders won't just be limited to spending, however, with the class set to feature year-end payouts in addition to the prize money for every race weekend. Dunlop has also confirmed the return of its contingency program, which will offer rewards to the top three finishers in each race of the 2018 season.
The RACE Superseries opener, which takes place May 11-13, will feature extensive research and intense scrutiny on all machines, a tradition that will carry into the National tour. All of the CSBK gear and staff will be at Shannonville Motorsport Park for the regional event, which will also feature two championship-style Lightweight races, though results will not be tracked towards the official series.
The Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike grid will open its season on May 25-27 alongside all other CSBK classes at the aforementioned Shannonville raceway, just east of Belleville, Ont.