Key Take-Aways from CSBK Round Three at Autodrome St-Eustache (with LW at Calabogie too!)

Szoke Confirms Kawasaki Pace

There was little to choose between Jordan Szoke and points leader Ben Young at round three of the Mopar CSBK National tour at Autodrome St-Eustache, June 23.  The pair battled throughout the 22 lap Feature Superbike class race, but Szoke’s daring pass in traffic with a lap and a half to go gave the reigning Champ the victory on his Express Lane/Blackfoot Motorsport Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja.

Young didn’t settle for second however:  he fought hard throughout, at a track where Szoke has been the rider to beat for almost a decade.  The Scot-build Developments/Van Dolders Home Team BMW S1000RR pilot is well aware that Szoke is coming on strong after a bumpy couple of races in his switch from BMW to Kawasaki.

“It’s about the Championship at the end of the day,” explained Young, trying to end Szoke’s four year run of number one series plates.  “We’re still up front – it’s all good.  You just get a little disappointed after such a tough race.”

With four races left to run, in two double-header weekends, St-Eustache marked the last time that overall strategy would not figure into the battle at the front of Superbike.  From now on, it will be crucial for the front runners to focus on picking up points and not taking great risks – especially on the Saturday of a two-race format round.

This means that those chasing front runners Young (157 points) and Szoke (139) have a better chance to threaten.  

Trevor Daley has worked his way up to third overall in the standings (90 points) aboard the Parts Canada/One Speed/Fast Co Suzuki GSX-R1000R and looked ready to challenge the top guns in Quebec until a bad start pushed his down at the start.  After a rough weekend at the Shannonville opener, Daley has proven at the most recent two Nationals that he is a threat for the win, and a podium regular.  

Fourth in points is Superbike rookie Tomas Casas, having completed three races in his big bike debut season with the Parts Canada-backed works Yamaha YZF-R1.  At St-Eustache, Casas was in the hunt for third and continues to show steady improvement – the next round at challenging Atlantic Motorsport Park will be a major test.

Samuel Trepanier has climbed to fifth in the standings (87 points) and had by far his best weekend of the season at St-Eustache, although he too was troubled by a poor get-away on the Carrier-backed Blysk Racing BMW.  Trepanier eventually got up to fourth and set off after Daley, but his first Podium of 2019 will have to wait for at least a couple of weeks.

An impressive sixth in the standings ((84 points) belongs to the shoe-string budgeted Dewildt Honda CBR1000RR of Steven Nickerson, continuing to make solid progress and hanging in with the fourth-place battle at St-Eustache.  Jeff Williams was also in this group with his BMW (seventh in points at 74) while Michael Leon wasn’t happy to place sixth at his home track with his Royal Distributing BMW but has moved up to eight in the rankings.

Top Sport Bike class middleweight racer in the big bike class is Nicolas Meunier with ninth overall aboard his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja, backed by TP Distribution and Gulf.  “Niko” Meunier showed very well at St-Eustache and has a good chance of earning this year’s Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year Award. 

Casas on a Comeback

The Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike National in Quebec did not have a dramatic, controversial finish, a change from previous events.  Reigning back-to-back Champion Casas (Peterborough Cycle Yamaha YZF-R6) instead dominated, while points leader Will Hornblower (402 Cycle Yamaha) had to make his way through the busy field to earn second and keep his title drive alive.

With three races down and four to go, Hornblower leads the Championship chase with 138 points, followed by the Motovan/Blue Streak-backed Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja of David MacKay at 111 points and charging “T.V. Tommy” Casas at 107.  Second year Pro Samuel Desmarais is also in the hunt at 96 points on his Equipments Les Chutes Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.  The 2018 BCR Pro Rookie of the Year was in the thick of things at St-Eustache, and is picking up the pace race-by-race.

However, the big story, and the fan favourite, at St-Eustache was the Turcotte Performance Kawasaki of Sebastien Tremblay.  After crashes caused by others in the opening races, pre-season favourite Tremblay came to St-Eustache not expecting to race, since he had just had his shoulder surgically repaired.  

“The Shaker” missed some practice and opted out of the Superbike class on his potent 1000cc Ninja, but eventually Tremblay decided to try to race in Sunday’s Liqui Moly middleweight National.   A cautious start put him in the thick of the third-place battle, but this time Tremblay missed out on the drama and netted a solid third – and the praise of his podium partners and the noisy crowd.

Fortin Moves Up Front in Amateur Superbike

Mopar Express Lane Amateur Sport Bike had a new winner at St-Eustache, with Guillaume Fortin continuing his strong 2019 campaign with a first win aboard the Turcotte Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.  Fortin controlled much of the race, but behind things were exciting for Aprilia-mounted David Natale, winner of the two opening two rounds.  Natale got tangled up in the esses and fell from his immaculate RSV-4, remounting to salvage 16th.

In a great dice for second, four seconds behind Fortin, ASM group co-leader Pascal Bastien made his first National start of the season count, netting second, Bastien’s Yamaha YZF-R1 inches ahead of the BMW S1000RR of Andrew Haick.  Also close to this duo was fourth overall Christian Allard, top middleweight finisher in the big bike class with his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja. 

Fifth, five seconds further back was the Honda CBR1000RR of Anthony Landry.  Eight of the top 13 finishers in Amateur Superbike were from Quebec, showing the current strength of the track day culture in that province.

Fortin’s success moved him to the top of the points standings with 128, followed closely by Natale (115) and Haick (112).  More than likely, the National Champion will come from this top three – next up A.M.P. will be important, but the sole Amateur double header at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park August 9-11 will be crucial.

Allard Leads in Amateur Sport Bike

The Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike series is shaping up as a two-horse race for the crown, with Kawasaki’s Allard currently holding the 2019 middleweight title chase lead (143 to 132 points) over the bLU cRU Yamaha YZF-R6 of class rookie Jake LeClair.  

At St-Eustache, Allard pulled away for a convincing 9-second win over runner-up LeClair, confirming their status as the class of the current 600cc category.  Suzuki GSX-R600-mounted fast local Donald Defour made his return to the series to earn third, a further ten seconds behind LeClair.  Honda CBR600RR pilot Patrick Blouin was a close fourth, just ahead of Mirabel’s Dave Carolli on a Kawasaki.

Eight of the top ten finishers were Quebec locals.

Allard did not attend the Nova Scotia round last year, while LeClair had a strong weekend out east in 2018 on his way to the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike title.  Expect the points to be very close heading into the “old Mosport” double header.

Unpredictable AM Lightweight

The racers in this year’s TSN Motorcycle Experience Amateur Sport Bike Championship will compete in more rounds than any previous National class tour, with two races every weekend and the Calabogie “bonus” round June 29-30 making for a total of 12 points races this season.  Competitors in the other categories would also enjoy additional rounds, since it makes it easier to make up ground after a problem or mistake.  

The rider looking to take advantage of all these races seems to be Avery Hart, a first timer on the National tour with lots of pace and not much luck.  The Nova Scotia racer had a fourth on Saturday at St-Eustache, but a chain failure on the WBRF Yamaha YZF-R3 meant he got no points from Sunday’s sixth National race in Quebec.

This gave the Championship lead to bLU cRU Yamaha’s Ben LeClair, who went 3/2 in the two Quebec races, battling with Hart’s team-mate, fellow teen-ager Keegan Gaudet (2/3 finishes).  The big winner in Quebec Lightweight action was local Laval Yamaha racer Alex Berthiaume, who earned a sweep in the final National ever at the soon to close St-Eustache venue.

One week later, the Lightweight racers headed to Calabogie for their special event, and class controversy erupted when R3 runners Gaudet and Toni Sharpless suffered chain failures at the fast and smooth Ottawa-area venue.  Some Lightweight racers want the short-lasting lightweight chains banned from use in the series.

Saturday’s race was a showcase for the class, with a drafting war at the front that also included light rain for the last lap and a half on portions of the 5-kilometer-long big track.  Pole sitter Trevor Dion scored his first win, and the first for the Fast Track Kawasaki Ninja 400, when Hart fell from the lead mid-race.

Gaudet and LeClair again battled for the Saturday Podium, Gaudet getting the edge over LeClair in another wild last lap. Berthiaume made a charge late in the race but had to settle for fourth, just ahead of Niagara Ninja 400 mounted series spokesperson Jacob Black.

Sunday lacked climate challenges at Calabogie, but the Lightweight race had drama early:  the red flag was out on the first lap when Berthiaume and Saturday winner Dion fell. At the restart, Hart put on a clinic, pulling away (15 seconds!) from points leader LeClair for an unusual-for-the-class dominant victory.

Alone for much of the race, a cautious LeClair almost got caught by third-placed Gaudet at the finish of the red flag-shortened 6 Lap National.  Meanwhile, Sharpless got a decent start on her ACF-50 backed Yamaha and worked up to a close fourth, her best result since Toni’s return to National competition in 2017.

Fifth went to early-front runner Matt Simpson aboard the Evans Racing Honda CBR500R twin, another solid finish for the teenager who now holds fourth in the standings, behind fellow youngsters LeClair, Hart and Gaudet, heading for Shubenacadie’s penultimate 2019 National.