SHUBENACADIE, N.S. – Jordan Szoke extended his lead in the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship in impressive fashion in qualifying for this weekend’s third round of the series, sponsored by Honda and Pro Cycle, at Atlantic Motorsport Park on Saturday.
The Brantford, Ont. rider claimed his second Magneti Marelli SuperPole of the season on the Waznie Racing / BMW Motorrad Canada / Parts Canada BMW S1000RR with a time of one minute, 7.370 seconds, almost a full second quicker than his nearest rival. Szoke averaged 136.797km/h (82.072 mph) around the twisty 2.56km (1.6-mile) 11-turn circuit.
Uxbridge, Ont.’s Alex Welsh will start second in Sunday’s 22-lap feature race after turning a lap at 1:08.211 aboard the AW7R / Kenwood Electronics Canada / Parts Canada Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Jodi Christie of Keene, Ont. was third fastest at 1:08.286.
Local star Austin Shaw-O’Leary of Falmouth, N.S. completes the front row after lapping at 1:09.805 on the O’Leary Brothers / Pro Cycle / GoLo Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, putting four different motorcycle brands on the front row of the grid.
“I’m really happy with where we’re at considering the limited amount of track time we’ve had because of all the rain yesterday morning,” said Szoke, who will go for his seventh career Superbike race win at AMP and his third in a row on Sunday. “We’ve made some big steps with the electronics on the bike this year, made them work better for me and I feel better than ever.”
Szoke gained two points on Christie in the battle for the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship. With the four points for pole Szoke now has 115 points to the 93 of Christie, who picked up two points on Saturday. Welsh earned three points and now has 81 points in third.
Szoke put in his quickest lap early in the final 15-minute Magneti Marelli SuperPole session.
“The track is still really green; there isn’t a lot of rubber down,” Szoke added. “We tried some changes at the end but I didn’t like them. We’ll see what the temperature’s like in the morning and then make a decision on where to go in set-up for the race. Yesterday afternoon in practice I did some long runs and I felt comfortable, I wasn’t fighting the bike at all.”
After struggling with engine troubles on Friday Welsh managed to improve in SuperPole qualifying to earn his best starting position of the season.
“We had some electrical issues, niggly little stuff and we’ve been playing catch-up the whole weekend,” Welsh explained. “This session we were able to push the bike a bit more. It’s pretty comfortable but we can always improve and I think we’ll get a little faster for the race. I don’t know if Jordan can keep up his pace, so maybe we’ll meet him in the middle.”
Christie finished a close second to Szoke at AMP in 2012 aboard a Honda CBR600RR but is making his first appearance at the track on the Honda CBR1000RR. He has finished second to Szoke at the first two rounds of the 2013 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship after leading both races.
“With it being our first weekend here on the Superbike I was expecting a steep learning curve,” Christie admitted. “We came in here with an educated guess on set-up but we’ve had to make a lot of changes. But I feel great and I think we’ve made a lot of improvement.”
In front of his home fans Shaw-O’Leary grabbed a spot on the first row in only his third national event as a Pro and gave himself a good shot at the Sunoco Pro Rookie Award.
“We had a few problems yesterday, we think we traced it to the fuel pump, so we lost a lot of time,” the 17-year-old said. “To be in SuperPole and on the front row in my first year as a Pro is nothing I thought of at the start of the season. We’ll try to find some more corner speed, but I think we’ve got something figured out.”
Two more rookies lead the second row for Sunday’s race. Mississauga, Ont.’s Trevor Daley qualified fifth fastest with a time of 1:10.488 on the One Speed Suzuki GSX-R1000, just ahead of Kristopher Garvie of Caledon, Ont., who recorded a lap at 1:10.490 with his Honda Canada / Genics Inc. / Platinum Printing Honda CBR600RR before crashing, uninjured in corner two.
St-Lazare, Que.’s Franklyn Dominguez completes the second row on the Excel Honda / Holt / Seamont Brokerage Honda CBR1000RR after qualifying with a time of 1:10.576.
Ron Munroe of Beaver Bank, N.S. (Canadian Kawasaki / Freedom Cycle / Steele Subaru Kawasaki ZX-10R), Upper Coverdale, N.B. racer Caleb Noiles (C&C Racing / GBourque Racing / Untamed Motorsports Kawasaki ZX-6R) and Calgary’s John Ross MacRae (Riedmann Racing / Castrol / Blackfoot Triumph 675) complete the top 10 for Sunday’s race grid.
In other action at AMP, Christie extended his lead in the Hindle Exhaust Pro Sport Bike Championship by claiming pole position for Sunday’s race. The Keene, Ont. racer turned a lap at 1:08.723 on his Honda CBR600RR. Shaw-O’Leary qualified second with a time of 1:09.203 aboard the Yamaha YZF-R6 and MacRae was third fastest at 1:10.103 riding his Triumph 675.
The front row for Sunday’s race is filled out by Garvie on his Honda CBR600RR. Garvie snatched the spot on his final lap of the qualifying session.
Toronto’s Michael Taylor secured his second straight Tactical Products Canada LUMINOX Pole Award of the season in the Harley-Davidson XR1200 Cup with a time of 1:12.202 on his Mackie Harley-Davidson supported entry.
Points leader Steve Crevier of Maple Ridge, B.C. will start Sunday’s race second aboard his MotoSport Plus entry after lapping at 1:12.394 and North Vancouver’s Darren James qualified third at 1:13.023 for the Ruthless Racing squad.
Blaise Fougere of Dartmouth, N.S. set the fifth fastest time of 1:13.656 with the Atlantic Harley-Davidson Retailers entry.
In Amateur Superbike qualifying he set a time of 1:11.834 to top the Riley Dawe Racing / Adrenaline X / Pete’s Superbike Yamaha YZF-R6 of Toronto’s Riley Dawe, which turned a lap at 1:11.913. Lunenberg, N.S.’s Dan Rudolf was third at 1:12.331 on his Carroll Bridgewater Honda Powerhouse Honda CBR600RR and points leader Steve Hoffarth completes the front row riding the Serpa BMW / Inside Motorcycles BMW S1000RR.
In Amateur Sport Bike Forsyth turned a 1:11.752 on his Yamaha YZF-R6. Series leader Dawe was second quickest at 1:12.005 aboard his Yamaha YZF-R6 and Rudolf qualified third with a 1:12.240 on his Honda CBR600RR.
Tomas Casas scored the first race win of the weekend as he claimed round five of the Honda CBR250R National Race Series. The 14-year-old from Peterborough, Ont. saw off an early challenge from Dartmouth, N.S.’s Philip Warnell and went on to take a 15.432-sec. victory on his Peterborough Cycle Salvage-backed entry. Philip Warnell wound up third after being passed by his son Connor halfway through the 12-lap race.
Casas now leads the class standings by 104 points, 249-145, over Oakville, Ont.’s Cameron Walker, who finished fifth in Saturday’s race.
Action at AMP concludes on Sunday with feature races in all six national classes. Practice begins at 9:00 a.m. with the first race, the ARL Formula 46 regional set to launch at 11:40 a.m.
Video coverage of the Mopar Pro Superbike, Harley-Davidson Canada XR1200 Cup and Saturday’s Honda CBR250R National will be on www.csbk.ca, as well as highlights from Hindle Exhaust Pro Sport Bike.