Tomas Casas showed few signs of rust in his return to the Canadian Superbike Championship this weekend, earning a career-best qualifying and a pair of strong results in round one at Calabogie Motorsports Park.
The Parts Canada Yamaha rider was making his first appearance since August 2019 and kicking off just his second season ever aboard a Superbike, but it didn’t take long to get into a groove as Casas still ran consistently inside the top-five in practice times on Friday and Saturday.
Riding his Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike around Calabogie for the first time, Casas instantly found front-running pace despite returning to one of the most competitive CSBK grids in years. That pace was finally showcased in Saturday’s qualifying session, where Tomas posted a time of 2:03.185 to put himself second on the grid for Sunday’s doubleheader.
That represented a career-best Superbike qualifying for the team and their first front row start ever in the feature class, as Casas was sandwiched between 2019 champion Ben Young and 14-time champion Jordan Szoke at the front of the grid.
“With this being just my second year on the Superbike and after a year's absence from racing, I was delighted with my qualifying results,” Tomas said. “My lap could have been better if it weren’t for a few slides, but overall I was happy to be starting on the front row!”
That qualifying performance initially put Casas squarely in contention for his second career podium, as he battled with Szoke and Alex Dumas in the opening laps as part of a five-rider battle at the front. Dumas was eventually able to separate himself from the pack while Szoke and a charging Young moved past Casas, but Tomas maintained fourth for most of the 12-lap race one.
Ultimately, a combination of issues – most notably arm pump – led to Casas fading late on, but he still managed to hang on to a solid fifth in his first race in nearly 23 months.
The arm pump nearly threatened Casas’ chances for race two, as he lost feeling in his right arm and was forced to bring the swelling down in an ice bucket, but he ultimately managed to return to the grid and battle through race two.
It was a similar scenario in the second half of the doubleheader, with Dumas, Young, and Szoke pacing the field right from the start as Casas settled in to a seven-rider battle in the opening stages. His recurring arm pump issues from race one allowed Trevor Daley to again steal fourth, but Tomas was able to fight through and settle into a more consistent pace as he doubled-up his weekend with another strong fifth-place result.
Despite the issues in both races, Casas demonstrated his ability to compete with former and current champions up front and will get a boost when he heads to his home track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in round two.
“It was a shame to have gotten arm-pump because I knew I had the pace to fight for the podium. There just isn’t much you can do once your braking hand starts losing feeling,” Casas said. “On the flip side, I was content to know I had the speed to fight for the top spots and that there is still lots of room for improvement as we get more data and I continue to learn how to ride a big bike.”
The strong weekend leaves Casas just three points behind Daley for fourth in the championship, a target position for the team given the title contenders in front of him in Dumas, Young, and Szoke. Tomas will also leave Calabogie as far and away the top Yamaha rider, an important role given the new Constructors Championship.
With at least one more doubleheader confirmed at CTMP and a third round appearing more likely, Tomas and the team remain confident as they continue to settle into the 2021 season.
Casas would like to thank title sponsors Yamaha Motor Canada, Parts Canada and ITK9 for helping get the team back on track this summer, while also recognizing the support from Motul, GBRacing, Pro6 Cycle and Dunlop Tires, Hindle Exhaust Systems, Bickle Racing, Flexiglass, DP Brakes, Brooklin Cycle Racing, Vortex, Human 2.0, Acme Motorsports, Forsaken Motorsports, Peterborough Cycle Salvage, Trackdayhub.com, Laps4MD and everyone else who continues to support the team’s quest for a Canada Cup.
Lastly, Casas would like to give a special thank you to his entire team, Scott Cartier, and Andrew Jones from ATR for their work and help where needed.
You can follow Tomas Casas and his racing through his social media platforms:
Facebook: Tomas Casas Racing
From a press release