Szoke sets the pace in Friday practice at Shannonville Photo: Rob O'Brien / CSBK

Szoke sets the pace in Friday practice at Shannonville

Written by  Professional Motorsports Productions on Friday, 25 May 2018 18:06

Two-time defending champion Jordan Szoke picked up right where he left off at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Friday, topping both the morning and afternoon practice sessions at the Canadian Superbike Championship season opener despite very windy conditions.

Szoke, searching for his record 13th Mopar Pro Superbike Championship in 2018, paced the field with a time of 1:05.109 in the morning session, just over a tenth of a second faster than Mississauga, ON's Matt McBride in second place and another three tenths faster than Collingwood, ON's Ben Young. All three riders are aboard BMW S1000RR's, a bike that was featured heavily in the top ten in both sessions.

Szoke again paced the afternoon practice, this time ahead of Young and Trevor Daley, who is returning to the CSBK tour aboard a Kawasaki ZX-10R. However, Szoke's time was slightly slower in the afternoon, clocking in at a 1:05.320, something he – and many other riders – attributed to the intense winds.

"The wind actually hit me pretty hard and knocked me into the gravel, but luckily we didn't crash," Szoke said. "Otherwise, it was really promising to be this consistent with our times, especially given the conditions."

Young, who figures to be one of Szoke's biggest rivals this season, was also affected by the wind, though he said it's not something that put him at any disadvantage.

"We were slower than we thought we would be because of the wind, but at the end of the day it's the same for everybody," he said. "We could have gone quicker, but the bike's still working amazing, so now we're just on track to getting P1 [in qualifying] tomorrow."

McBride, meanwhile, was unable to repeat his success from the morning after crashing early in the afternoon session, though he was able to make the necessary repairs and end the day in fourth between Daley and Beaconsfield, QC's Michael Leon, who finished fourth in the morning practice aboard his S1000RR.

Daley, also from Mississauga, ON, is expected to compete in most – if not all – of the 2018 season after only appearing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park a year ago. The former championship runner-up set the fifth-fastest time in the morning session and looks like he could be a dark horse in this year's title fight.

"The winds were bad, but everyone's dealing with it," Daley said in agreement with his rivals. "We're just trying to get some clean laps in and make the best of things."

Missing from the top of the timesheets was St. Isidore, QC's Samuel Trepanier, who badly damaged his S1000RR in the morning practice and was unable to repair it for the afternoon. The third-year Pro managed to get in a few laps in the final session after borrowing a bike from friend and mentor Brett McCormick, though he failed to record a time.

As for the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, it was largely a two-horse race up front, with 19-year old reigning champion Tomas Casas setting the pace in both sessions ahead of Laval, QC's Sebastian Tremblay, who is piloting a Kawasaki ZX-6R. Casas, riding a Yamaha YZF-R6 out of Peterborough, ON, is widely considered the favourite to defend his title in 2018, though Tremblay and fellow Yamaha rider Mitch Card likely won't make it easy for him.

"The track temperature started to get better and after that it was a lot of fun," Casas said. "We're working really hard, so hopefully we can keep it going [in qualifying] tomorrow and in the race on Sunday."

Card (Ripley, ON) failed to record a time on Friday, crashing out in the morning and experiencing mechanical issues in the afternoon, though he is expected to have things resolved by the weekend.

Dave Natale and Michael von Ek were the men to beat in the Magnetti Marelli sponsored Amateur Superbike field, finishing first and second, respectively, in the morning before swapping positions in the afternoon. They were followed both times by Mirabel, QC's Luc LaBranche, who also topped the afternoon session in the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class. That class saw Ottawa, ON's Max Kathron set the fastest time in the morning, before settling for second in the final session.

Highly-touted teenager Jake LeClair was dominant in both sessions of the brand new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike series, finishing at least a second clear of the next fastest rider in both sessions. The Yamaha YZF-R3 rider finished ahead of John Taverner and Mark Rocha in the morning, before pacing Alex Berthiaume and Neil Graham in what should otherwise be an exciting inaugural season for the class.

Qualifying will begin on Saturday with the Amateur Lightweight class at 10:00 am, before the Dalton Timmis Insurance Pro Superbike Superpole kicks off at 2:50 pm, which will set the grids for the season opening races on Sunday.

Full results and the rest of the weekend schedule can be found on the official series website at www.csbk.ca.

Last modified on Friday, 25 May 2018 18:10
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