Round 3 Report: Michael Leon

CSBK Round 3 Race Report: Goodbye Autodrome St Eustache

Hello,

On Sunday, we said goodbye to Autodrome St Eustache.  The track, in operation for decades, held its last ever Mopar CSBK Canadian Superbike Championship National motorcycle race this past weekend, June 23rd.  I rode the Royal Distributing BMW S1000RR to a 6th place finish in Pro Superbike after a good battle.   I rode reasonably well, but my pace was off a little bit from where it needed to be to fight for the podium.  

It’s a real shame that the track will close, a victim of the expanding suburban landscape. This venue is the place that I truly learned how to race, while competing in the Am lightweight and then Am 600 classes with the ASM organization during the mid nineties.  I could fill pages of this newsletter with memories of learning the ropes, competing in endurance races, winning championships, crashing out of the lead, setting lap records, and all kinds of crazy track adventures.  I crashed my FZR 400 so hard once, that my Dad and I never found the battery.  It’s probably still buried in the outfield.  Even though it wasn’t a great track as far as the layout and track surface, I’m going to miss the Autodrome.  It’s sad to say goodbye. 

The lead up to the race weekend was hectic, involving a trip to return the borrowed motor to Jeff Williams in Kingston and then on to BMW Motorrad Canada in Toronto to pick up another motor.  We were fortunate to have BMW lend us a stock motor to give the boys at Pro 6 Cycle some time to prepare our superbike motor without having to rush.  Rushed motor work is always a bad idea.  The BMW head office is a spectacular facility and it was great to check it out.  Big thanks to Chris and Alex from BMW for the continued help.  

Anyhow, I got the motor back to Montreal and into the bike and ready for Friday morning practice.   We came out of the gate well and ended the first session in P4, only 2 tenths off the fastest time.  The bike was a little unstable at higher speeds and in the flip flop S corners.  Kyle and I got some advice for some changes from Jon Cornwell.  We also picked the brain of good friend and former crew member Dale Rathwell, who came to the track on Friday for a visit and to spend some time with us.  We made some changes, but I was only able to give them a try on Saturday morning due to a special evening.

Our 16 year old daughter, Jaimie, had her high school graduation on Friday afternoon / evening.  Fortunately for us, her school has a tradition of having the parents attend the grad ball.  It meant that I had to miss Friday afternoon practice but being there for her on her special night was worth it.  Family first! I’m so proud of you, Jaimie.

Saturday morning, it was time for more track action.  Our changes didn’t really help with the stability issues.  We made even more changes before qualifying and went into it optimistically.  When all was said and done, I ended up 7th at the end of Superpole.  The result put me in the third row for the race on Sunday.  I was disappointed. 

We made further changes.  I was able to try them during Sunday morning warm up.  The bike was now a little more stable and easier to ride.  But I still wasn’t setting the world on fire, lap time wise.  I realized that I was still fighting the bike, instead of working with it.  Over-riding it, trying to force it rather than riding with finesse.

On Sunday afternoon, it was time to suck it up.  It was now race time.  Our team lined up on the third row and when the lights went out, off we went.  This weekend, we used a new slipper clutch basket, and it is awesome!  I got a great launch.  I was able to pull up alongside Trepanier, who started on the second row, into the first right hander, and make it to the apex before him.  We went thought the first few corners side by side and I was able to beat him to the bowl corner.  I was following, Casas (who had a phenomenal launch) and Williams, running in 6th or so.  Trepanier came by on the back straight on lap 4 or something like that.

I focused on conserving the rear tire, while not letting Casas and Williams get away.  The whole time, I was being shown the +0 Sec signal on my pit board, letting me know the Nickerson was right behind me. 

That’s how the race played out.  Williams and Casas traded spots a few times with myself and Nickerson in hot pursuit as the laps wound down.  With a few to go, Williams was passed by Casas for the final time and I was able to follow through and also pass him shortly after. 

In end, I finished behind Casas, in 6th position.  With Nickerson right behind.  It wasn’t the best weekend for our team.  We never really found a great setup.  We got through it and will live to fight another day.   It was a bit of an emotional weekend.  We said goodbye to Autodrome St Eustache, and I faced the fact that my little girl has turned into an amazing young woman.

Our next event will be at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.  I can’t wait.  I love that crazy track.  Let’s do this!  Hoping that the big emotions for next weekend are the elation of celebrating on the podium.   And hope to see you there!!

About Royal Distributing:

Since 1990, Royal Distributing has built a reputation as a leader in aftermarket motorcycle, snowmobile, ATV and bicycle products. Royal carries all the gear, parts and accessories for sports enthusiasts of any age. From protective gear (jerseys, gloves, pants, helmets and boots) to casual wear and accessories, Royal Distributing will appeal to even the most discriminating shopper. There are 4 “superstores” located in Guelph (head office), Innisfil, Sudbury and Whitby. All are fully stocked to make sure you get the best possible ride, at the best possible prices with service from an amazing staff. For more information visit one of the Royal Distributing stores. Or online at http://www.royaldistributing.com/ 

The Royal Distributing Racing Team would like to thank Royal Distributing, Pro 6 Cycle, Dunlop USA, BMW Motorrad Canada, Windmill Motorsports, Bell Helmets, Joe Rocket Canada, Five Gloves, TCX Boots, Hindle Exhaust, Liqui Moly Canada, Motovan, Perry Performance, GianMajor Inc., Armour Bodies, MWR Air Filters, Bickle Racing, Dave Smith and Vortex Racing Sprockets.

From a press release