The much-anticipated factory Kawasaki program of Jordan Szoke and Trevor Dion has come to an early end, as the two have finalized plans to run a separate effort at the Bridgestone Canadian Superbike Championship finale in Shannonville later this month.
The split has been described as amicable, with both parties agreeing to go in their own direction for round five of the GP Bikes Pro Superbike class and beyond.
Szoke will maintain the status quo aboard his factory ZX-10R Ninja machine, though with a change in sponsorship as he continues with the official Canadian Kawasaki program from SMP. The 14-time champion currently sits fifth in the overall standings, scoring a podium in round one.
The biggest change comes for Dion, who will remain mounted on Kawasaki machinery for the season finale but now as a privateer with continued support from LDS Consultants.
The 21-year-old will run a privately owned 2019 ZX-10R Ninja in the feature Superbike category, a bike he has tested on throughout the 2023 campaign between national rounds, but perhaps more notably will also return to the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike grid for the season finale.
Dion won the Sport Bike championship a year ago aboard a privateer LDS Consultants Kawasaki, becoming the first rookie in class history to do so and the third-youngest champion ever, before joining forces with Szoke prior to this season for his first full Superbike effort.
While it’s been a frustrating year at times for the feature class rookie, sitting eleventh in the overall standings, Dion has shown flashes of brilliance – including a podium finish at Grand Bend – and remains in the thick of the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year battle, trailing John Fraser and Paul Macdonell by only eight points.
Both Dion and Szoke will continue to play a pivotal role in the Constructors Championship for Kawasaki, where the brand looks to erase their 32-point deficit to Yamaha for third in the overall standings.
Aside from his changing Superbike plans, Dion’s return to the Sport Bike class will be his first appearance since capturing his #1 plate at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park a year ago – a number he’ll now get to put on his ZX-6R Ninja machine.
“Having earned it last season, I’m pretty excited to be able to run the number-one plate at a national event, even if it’s for only one round,” Dion said. “Obviously Superbike is still going to be my main focus of the weekend, but I’m excited to hop on a Sport Bike again and have some fun after having some of the best races of my career in that class last season.”
The reigning champ won’t be able to defend his title but could play a significant role in deciding the 2023 crown, where David MacKay currently leads Matt Simpson by just 16 points. Ironically, it was MacKay who came closest to Dion one year ago, losing out on the championship by just eight points after a last-round comeback fell short.
The final round of the Bridgestone CSBK season is scheduled for September 15-17 at Shannonville Motorsport Park, just east of Belleville, Ontario, with a Superbike tripleheader on tap to decide the 2023 crown.