Following the Dunlop tire test in conjunction with OPP Racing Track Days at Area27 in British Columbia August 19-21, we spoke with Mopar Express Lane/Blackfoot/Motovan sponsored Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja pilot Jordan Szoke. We asked for his first impressions of the 16 turn, 4.83-kilometer-long road course north of Osoyoos.
Along with BMW’s Ben Young, the 13-time overall Canadian Champ from Lynden, ON., tried a variety of Dunlop slicks and set-up options, assisted by tuners Matt Von Tilborg and Ryan Topp. Over three days at Area27, Szoke learned the track, worked on settings for all aspects of his Kawasaki, and sorted through a range of Dunlop slicks.
Q: Were you happy overall with the tests at Area27?
J.S.: I’m happy. I would have liked to see a little better time in the last session, but actually we went the wrong way with a couple of changes: I was just looking at the data and that confirmed it. We didn’t really get to use the softer tire to its advantage.
That’s the main reason we are here – to get an idea of the right tires to bring here for everyone in the series. I was surprised with how well we got going with the Medium tire, but then it cooled down for the next softer option, it started spitting, so I think we certainly could have had better times with slightly different circumstances.
Q: It was interesting to see that you and Ben were so consistent, so close together in almost every session, regardless of set-up and tires.
J.S.: When we did the race stint this morning, I know he had the fastest time, but at the end we were doing faster times than him. It has been back and forth. In that session, we could see each other, we were half a track apart, but you can keep track here, he got away a little, I got back, and it was almost dead even at the end.
Looking at that, considering a race here, that has to be good. We’ve been having fun, working together, and enjoying the opportunity. We really weren’t trying to attack one another, but neither one of us wants to be slower!
It was a good “first race” this morning, but then with the conditions we had to come in early in part two. Other than that, it was a perfect three days for all the things we needed to do with Dunlop. They really looked after us.
Q: Does it help that you are here right at the end of the season, when you’ve been racing regularly all summer?
J.S.: For something like this, it really does help. At the beginning of the year, sometimes you can go fast, and you don’t even recognize your problems! Coming here, we are at the peak of our season of riding, it’s a good time to evaluate the tires and really the track – it was new for both of us.
If I could have gone out one more time, if the weather had co-operated a little bit, we would have chased our front-end set-up a bit more, and I would like to see those lap times. We didn’t have any kind of starting point, and we didn’t have all our parts and tools, so for instance I couldn’t quite get the gearing I think I will end up needing.
I talked to Jon (Suspension ace Cornwell) a little bit, we have some ideas, but we would want to make some transmission changes for sure.
We were still constantly changing things, we were happy, I have lots of good data to take back and consider and of course it is still our first year with this Kawasaki, we are still learning the motorcycle.
Now Jon and I can sit down and work on things, Scott (engine builder Miller of Fast Company) and I can plan some work on some areas where the engine can be better, and we will go from there.
Q: You tried a different engine configuration with Scott Miller at our final event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park; did you try that set-up here?
J.S.: We haven’t dynoed the engines back to back yet to see what all the differences, like the cams, are about, but the stock bike has a lot of punch off the bottom, and when you put the kit parts in it, you loose some of that punch. It likes to over-rev a little more. So, for our tracks, I would like to get a little more torque for out of the corners.
I think that is one area where we will improve. Even here, even thought this is a beautiful Grand Prix-style track, the apexes of the corners really tighten up on you, and it’s hard to get the gearing right. You don’t want to be shifting too early out of the corner, and at the end of the straight you have to have the right gearing. Right now, it seems to me that at every apex we hit, we should be a little higher up in the revs.
So that is something that I think we can do with the transmission, and judging from what we learned at Mosport, that is an area where we can improve. And that’s cool, we have that ability with the Kawasaki, with kit options, a shorter second gear, and the cassette-type transmission.
Q: Is this a track where you spend a lot of time on the edge of the tire?
J.S.: The straightaways are straight, but the rest of the track goes from one edge of the tire to the other. Everything else is winding. For sure, it is taxing on the tires. But we had the Soft front and the Medium Rear mounted at one point, and we had no issues at all. The 0455 Medium rear did lots and lots of laps, and we were really happy with it. I don’t think anyone will complain about that.