Four-time National race-winner Avery Hart was the man to beat on Friday in the TSN Motorcycle Experience Lightweight Sport Bike class, as the grid prepares for the first of two races in the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship bonus round at Calabogie Motorsports Park.
After a nightmare weekend at Autodrome St-Eustache that saw Hart lose his championship lead, the Princeville, NS native was able to place his WRBF Racing Yamaha YZF-R3 at the front of the field in Friday practice as he looks to regain that points lead this weekend.
Hart did not record a time in the morning session, initially running without a transponder before crashing out of the first practice, but was able to make up for it all in the afternoon with a time of 2:26.950.
“It’s a really fun track, but it’s really challenging to get used to,” said Hart. “St-Eustache was brutal, so I definitely want to get out front here if I can, especially considering the next round is back home [at Atlantic Motorsport Park].”
His time was 0.253 seconds clear of Strathroy, ON youngster Trevor Dion for the best lap of the day, who led the morning session with a time of 2:27.203 aboard his Kawasaki Ninja 400 before running second to Hart in the afternoon.
The third best time belonged to Laval, QC veteran Alex Berthiaume on his Laval Yamaha, fresh off two consecutive victories at his home track in round three and looking to continue that run this weekend, clocking in at a time of 2:29.232 on Friday.
Rounding out the top five from the days practice times were Bowmanville, ON teenager Matthew Simpson, and Toronto, ON’s Richard Lee. Simpson was able to post a 2:30.518 in the morning but elected not to ride in the afternoon aboard his Evans Racing Honda CBR500, while Lee returned to the series after a two round break to post a 2:31.568 in the second practice aboard his Yamaha R3 machine.
Notably missing from the top five were championship leader Ben LeClair and fellow front-runner Keegan Gaudet, as the Blackstock, ON native of LeClair got in limited lapping aboard his bLU cRU Yamaha, while fellow teenager Gaudet out of Ellerslie, PEI ran into transponder difficulty in the second practice and was only able to manage a time of 1:41.276 aboard his WRBF Yamaha.
After capitalizing on Hart’s struggles to take the points lead at St-Eustache, LeClair is looking to come to grips with the new track in time for qualifying and race one on Saturday, as he aims to extend his points threshold before heading out East.
“The track is amazing, and everything felt pretty good for the first time out,” said LeClair, the younger brother of last year’s class champion, Jake. “It’s like Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in some ways, but it’s a lot less wide open, you really have to nail your lines or you lose a lot of ground quickly.”
A number of riders from the Lightweight class are expected to compete in the VRRA’s team endurance race on Friday night, as the additional practice sessions on Friday contributed to some riders choosing not to participate heavily in CSBK action until the weekend, when the class will feature its seventh and eighth races of the season.
Full results from Friday’s practice sessions can be found on the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.