The 2018 Mopar CSBK Tour offered a thrilling finale at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and offered two first-time National Feature race winners for the first time since 2013. Five years ago, Honda’s Jodi Christie earned his first success at Atlantic Motorsport Park and then Bodhi Edie climbed to the top of the Feature race podium for the first time at the next race at C.T.M.P.
Ben Young’s success on Saturday at C.T.M.P. aboard the Scot Build/Barrie Trim BMW S1000RR was a big deal, and was important for the Series too: the win, coupled with Jordan Szoke’s third place on the Express Lane/Motovan BMW, meant that the title chase would go down to the last race for the first time since the Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant final of 2013.
After earning the Dalton Timmis insurance SuperPole on Friday, Young diced for first in Saturday’s race with Szoke as well as the returning Kenny Riedmann. In his first Feature race start in a year, Riedmann picked up where he had left off with the potent Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja.
Late in the sixth race of 2018 race “Braveheart” Young pulled clear for his first career CSBK Feature win, ending Szoke’s winning streak at ten races, dating back to Edie’s victory for Z1 Yamaha at Grand Bend last June. Now the title would be decided in Sunday’s final counter of the season.
Five years ago, the Mopar CSBK series headed to the final race of the year with Alex Welsh on his Suzuki GSX-R1000, fresh from a Sunday win at “old Mosport,” challenging Szoke for the series overall National title. Welsh had a troubled race while Szoke ran away for the win, earning the Title.
In 2018 action at C.T.M.P., Szoke was hobbled with mechanical issues, but only needed a reasonable result to take his…wait for it…13th career overall National crown. But he will have to wait until 2019 to restart any kind of win streak, and he still is stuck at only three perfect seasons – 2010, 2015, 2016 – while no one else has ever earned even one.
Kenny Riedmann joined the Mopar CSBK tour full-time in 2014, with the goal of ending Jodi Christie’s run of success on Accelerated Technology’s Hondas in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike category. After a great battle with Christie, Riedmann won the title in his first attempt aboard Triumph’s Daytona Triple, and then followed that up with another success for Triumph in 2015.
However, by that point Riedmann was also running up front in Superbike aboard a Kawasaki, so in 2016 he switched to a Ninja in the middleweight series too, again taking the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike title – his third in a row. In 2017, he focused on the Superbike category only with the brand new “double R” version of the bigger Ninja, placing second to Szoke again.
But other than a Trip to France for a World Championship Endurance round this Spring, Riedmann had not competed in 2018 until August at C.T.M.P. He was quickly back up to speed, and Riedmann completed the podium with a strong third after the super-soft Dunlop slick Q tire run Friday for the Dalton Timmis Pole Awards.
In Sunday’s final National, Young led early and earned the important bonus for laps led. Then Riedmann took the point, Yong and Szoke seemingly happy to hold station, awaiting the inevitable last lap drafting battle up the long, uphill Mario Andretti back straight.
No one expected the crew fighting for fourth to climb into contention, with Saturday crasher Samuel Trepanier and Michael Leon surviving their battle to join the top trio with just two laps to go. Young tried for the lead in turn nine, but Riedmann hung on for the breakthrough victory from Young, Trepanier, Szoke and Leon. Just .7 of a second covered the top five after 20 laps of C.T.M.P.
While Young came up short in his quest for the title, the 2016 Brooklin Cycle Pro Rookie of the Year did have the honor of joining his crew on the box when they were selected as this year’s recipient of Team of the Year honors.
Szoke wasn’t well pleased to clinch the title with a result that put him off the Podium. For the past three seasons, “Jordan of the Jungle” has swept both races over the weekend at C.T.M.P., managing to take the Title while still out-dueling everyone in the typical last lap scramble that is the focus of attention at C.T.M.P.
“Yeah, I was unhappy with the way things went, but there is only so much you can do, so much you can control,” explained Szoke after the event. “This year, it was really frustrating: our set-up was right there, the chassis was wicked, but we just had so many little issues with our engines. In the end, we borrowed one of Ben’s, and while the numbers were not great, it was just as fast as ours, and the power just felt a little cleaner.”
“I really don’t like it that the last race is at Mosport, because I don’t want to have to ride around like that, like I’m just drinking a coffee. We all enjoy the fans at C.T.M.P., and you want to put on a real race. I get upset when I know I am not in a position to fight, because our goal as a team is to always have a bike that can win. This year’s BMW is sweet.” In seven seasons with BMW, Szoke has taken the Superbike crown six times.
Since his Title-clinching weekend, Szoke has been able to resume his other two-wheeled activities, specifically Trails riding on his new TRS. Szoke competed at two of his favorite locations, Kaladar and Tweed, earning two second place finishes although he concedes that he is “a little out of practice. I hadn’t done an actual event in so long I was worried I would get my ass kicked.”
After a variety of off-road activities in the next couple of months, Szoke will call an early end to activity in early November, no matter what the weather. He is scheduled to get his ankle, damaged in a non-crash M/X incident three years ago, repaired with the goal of being ready to ride during his Family Rodeo-style events at the Montreal Bike Show in February, 2019.
Recently, fans have grown accustomed to close racing in the Pro middleweight category, and the entertaining unpredictability that goes with this. During the past two years at C.T.M.P., Mitch Card has set the pace during close quarters action in Pro Sport Bike with his Fast Company/Shoei supported Yamahas. This year, Card would need two wins, and much luck, to have a chance to take the Championship.
Reigning Champ Tomas Casas came to C.T.M.P. looking to “do the Szoke” – race at the front but keep control of his hard-earned Championship lead. Casas had survived some wild activities at the previous round at Atlantic Motorsport Park, and was looking to complete his second career Pro National success for the Peterborough Cycle/Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 squad.
On Saturday, frequently dueling partners Casas and Card were joined at the front by the break-through winners at the previous east coast double header – Sebastien Tremblay on his DB Moto/Moto Nation Kawasaki and the Pro Cycle Honda of Jacob Shaw-O’Leary. These four Pros staged a superb, race-long dice, but only Casas survived the last lap!
Casas was leading when the pack got to Moss corner at the far end of the track, where O’Leary mixed up his down shifts and fell in the first part of the corner, “A.” Exiting Moss part “B,” Card got sideways and also tumbled, and the luckless Tremblay couldn’t miss the mess – as shown so well with the Drift on-board cameras.
So 19-year-old Casas earned the win and the title with one race to spare – truly “doing the Szoke!” The next day, with the pressure off, Casas took a convincing win, Card second from Tremblay. Second on Saturday, Louie Raffa was fourth Sunday on his NGK Honda, fast rookie Samuel Desmarais just edging the similar Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja of third-on-Saturday David McKay for fifth.
After a rough finish (broken arm) to his Amateur career in 2017 at C.T.M.P., Desmarais finished this year’s campaign in style, earning the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the year award for his Equipments les Chutes/Playground Poker Kawasaki. Given that the award is focused on the Superbike category, it is impressive that Desmarais pulled of this success with a 600cc class machine, and he will be attracting plenty of attention as he climbs the CSBK ladder in 2019.
One rider who is clear regarding his upcoming program is Jake LeClair. After dominating most of the season’s action in the new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class, LeClair had an up-and-down weekend near home at C.T.M.P. – he crashed from the lead Saturday but confirmed his crown with victory in race ten Sunday. This result also meant that teenager LeClair earned the first-ever bLU cRU Factory Ride Award, and will get a new 600cc Yamaha YZF-R6 to use as he moves to Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike action in 2019.
Yamaha mounted Luc Labranche controlled Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike for much of the season and took that crown at C.T.M.P., and also managed to grab the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike title. The last Amateur to “do the double” was Mitch Card.
In Amateur Superbike, Labranche just edged the BMW of Michael Van Ek, while in the middleweight division, YZF-R6 mounted Labranche held of the impressive Kawasaki of Nicolas “Nico” Meunier. All three of these racers should show well as rookie Pro racers, with the Kawasaki machinery of teenager Meunier looking especially Pro National ready.