SHANNONVILLE, Ont. – Jordan Szoke remains the rider to beat in the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship. The defending series champion took the first step to defending his title by claiming the Dalton Timmis Insurance Pole Qualifier Award at the opening round of the season at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Saturday.
The Lynden, Ont. rider powered his Express Lane / Motovan / BMW Motorrad BMW S1000RR around the 2.45km (1.53-mile), 11-turn Shannonville ‘Pro’ Track in one minute, 4.415 seconds (138.042km/h), giving him the pole award and four points toward the Mopar CSBK Canadian title. The Dalton Timmis Insurance Award was worth $600 to Szoke and he also received a Rockwell Watch courtesy of series supporter Motovan.
“This is a great way to start the season and I hope we’re back up here [on the podium] tomorrow,” said the 37-year-old Szoke, who has won the two most recent Mopar CSBK rounds at Shannonville. “We tried to make some improvements on the bike over the winter. We did our homework, found some more power and now we have a complete bike.”
Matt McBride of Mississauga, Ont. turned the second quickest qualifying time of 1:04.547 on his Riders Choice / Motovan / Dainese BMW S1000RR and Belfountain, Ont.’s Kenny Riedmann placed third with a lap at 1:04.807 on the Sturgess Cycle / Liqui Moly / Speed and Strength Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
Collingwood, Ont.’s Ben Young completes the front row for Sunday’s 22-lap feature race after setting a time of 1:05.404 riding the BMW / Scot Build / Core Power BMW S1000RR.
The top four riders set their times early in the 10-minute Dalton Timmis Shootout session, with Szoke’s best lap coming on only his second flying lap.
“It was really greasy out there, it was just hot,” said Szoke, who is bidding for his 11th Canadian Superbike title in 2016 after winning every race in the 2015 season. “I think if it had been cooler out my time could have been close to the lap record (1:03.795). But I knew the times would not be as quick as this morning and it was the same out there for everybody. The important thing wasn’t the time but the position.”
McBride had set the quickest time in Saturday morning’s final practice session with a 1:04.246 but was unable to match that effort in the hot and humid qualifying conditions.
“We gave it our all and you always want to beat the champ,” said the 31-year-old McBride, the recipient of a $500 check from Dalton Timmis Insurance and three points toward the Mopar CSBK title chase. “It was a little bit hotter this afternoon and a little bit greasy, and the bike was handling a little differently.”
Riedmann, the runner-up in last year’s Mopar CSBK standings, suffered a big tumble in the Chicane off the back straight just after setting his quickest qualifying time. The 24-year-old was unhurt but unable to complete the session.
“I’m glad I put in my time early,” admitted Riedmann, who still picked up a $400 qualifying check and two series points. “I was going for it, I wanted the pole and I crashed trying. I’m sorry to put my crew to all the work of getting the bike ready for tomorrow, but it will be worth it when we win.”
The 22-year-old Young, a Superbike newcomer, set his time despite losing his rear brake early.
“This is my first Superbike race so I’m just enjoying the moment, and I really can’t complain,” Young said. “We’re where we need to be and I feel if I can get a good start I could go with the other guys.”
Despite only getting down to serious preparation for his racing program earlier in the week Mississauga, Ont.’s Trevor Daley qualified fifth fastest with a time of 1:05.498 on his OneSpeed Yamaha YZF-R1M. Making his return to regular national competition after a three-year absence, Kevin Lacombe of St-Cesaire, Que. was sixth fastest at 1:05.522 aboard the Motosport St-Cesaire / Motovan / Zox Yamaha YZF-R1S. Bodhi Edie of Warman, Sask. completes the second row after turning a lap at 1:05.649 on his Trip Dub Racing / Burkett Freight Solutions / Z1 Tuning Yamaha YZF-R1.
Michael Leon of Beaconsfield, Que. leads off the third row of the grid after setting the eighth best qualifying time on his Royal Distributing Racing Team / BMW Motorrad / Pro 6 Cycle BMW S1000RR. He will be joined by the Motonation / Laval Moto Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja of Mirabel Que.’s Sebastien Tremblay, Toronto’s Chris Murray-Audain on the Onestop Dealer Services BMW S1000RR and Pro Rookie of the Year contender Derrick Whyte of Oshawa, Ont. riding the Snow City Cycle / Kawasaki / Lucas Oils Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
Whyte had the 11th best qualifying time in the 30-minute session that set the 10-rider field for the Dalton Timmis Shootout and just missed the cut in his Pro debut.
Saturday’s qualifying session marked the debut of the Dalton Timmis Pro Superbike Qualifier Award, which will take place at each event and lead up to a season-ending award at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“A national platform like this gives us the opportunity to expand our focus,” said Dan Avon, Vice President of Personal Insurance and a Partner with Dalton Timmis Insurance. “Supporting the Top Qualifier Award is an attempt to attract young talent into the sport and get kids off the street and onto the track, which is important to us.”
In other action at SMP, Riedmann opened up his bid for a third straight Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Championship by qualifying on pole for Sunday’s race with a time of 1:06.256 aboard his new Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.
Last year’s co-winner of the BCR / Sunoco Pro Rookie of the Year Award, Tomas Casas of Peterborough, Ont., set the second best qualifying time of 1:07.090 aboard his Peterborough Cycle Salvage / Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 and Toronto’s Michael Taylor had the third best time of 1:07.574 with his Triumph Canada / GP Bikes / Goderich Toyota Triumph 675.
Louie Raffa of Ste-Marthe, Que. completes the front row after setting a time of 1:07.681 with his Raffa Racing / Fog Off / Motorsport St-Eustache Honda CBR600RR.
Saturday also saw the third round of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 Spec National Series, with Eric Quintin of Ile Perrot, Que. scoring his second win of the season after Oakville, Ont.’s Jared Walker fell, unhurt, on the fifth lap of the 10-lap race. Windsor, N.S.’s Brandon Pemberton placed second and Adolfo Silva of Toronto finished third.
Fran Hall and passenger Josh Chartier took their Kawasaki rig to victory in the 10-lap Sidecar Racing Association qualifying heat race.
Feature races in all classes will be held Sunday. Practice begins at 9:00 a.m. with the first race, the opening round of the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Championship set to launch at 1:00 pm.
Tickets are available through the track website (www.shannonville.com) or through csbk.ca. Sunday tickets are $30 at the gate.