When we reached Doug Lawrence early (very early!) on Tuesday, March 6, he is heading south for the traditional launch of the flat track racing season. The 32-year-old former Flat Track Canada National Champ is in a van with his father, taking their twin cylinder “framers” to Georgia and then Florida.
“We’re going to South Carolina for a Wednesday Practice Day, on their three-eighths of a mile track,” starts Lawrence, who is letting Doug Sr. handle the driving on this leg of the trip. “Then we head to Savanah, Georgia for another three-eights mile facility and another Test Day. On Friday, we race the opening AMA All-Stars round at Savannah, the series that is a step below the American Flat Track National tour.”
“Then it’s on to Volusia Speedway Park in Florida for another All-Star round. We’ll be back in Canada on the 17th, and then we will announce our 2018 sponsorship package. Right now, I can confirm that my long-time supporters John Briggs and Town Moto are on-board.”
Lawrence has some choices to make in terms of equipment, and one of the goals of the trip will be to develop their years-in-the-making, Big A-framed Kawasaki 650 Ninja Twin. As well, their established and successful Harley-Davidson XR750 will be available, and likely be the preferred option, at least initially, on the short ovals. For the first time, Lawrence is not bringing any single cylinder racers with his for his spring journey south.
“I think the Harley will be better at first, but the goal is to get up to speed with the Kawasaki. We have a couple of engine packages available for the Kawasaki, different set-ups. We want to get the most out of each package, and ride the bike that works the best for the specific track conditions.
“We’re uncomfortable with the idea of using the Harley a lot,” admits the junior Lawrence, referring to the rare, collectable and costly to run air-cooled v-twins. “We don’t want to waste the XR750. The bigger tracks will suit the Kawasaki for sure, it will be more reliable and have better acceleration off the corners. The cornering speed is higher with the Harley, but the Kawasaki works better in a pack situation.”
Lawrence has achieved significant success on American-based Kawasaki liquid-cooled twins, riding for other teams, during the past few seasons in the U.S.
“I’ve had a few offers to ride for American Teams, but to be honest, these opportunities appeal but the machinery would not be as good as our bikes. I know what it takes to win, and the key is preparation.”
Talking about the opposition at the major races south of the border, Lawrence explains that “the Indians will be good again in American Flat Track, there could be as many as ten Indians in a Main event, but the new privateer bikes will take some figuring out.
“My goal is to get up to the pace, and that shouldn’t take too long,” continues the racer known as Fresh. “We’re not going to do the opening American Flt Track round, the Daytona TT, but we are aiming for the second event a month from now at Atlanta. That track is ‘D shaped,’ another three-eighths mile layout, and this year will be the second year Atlanta is a National.
“My initial plans for this year involve a focus on the States, as well as some races in Canada, places like Welland and Ohsweken. Right now I have eight races of American Flat Track circled on the calendar, and then we will see how it is all going.
“Our plan is to do the initial sweep out West in the U.S., and then regroup during the break and see what makes sense. In Canada, we’re looking toward the possible all-Twins feature class in 2019 with Flat Track Canada, and the goal is to come up with a sensible plan with sensible budget numbers.
“Recently, it has taken at least two or three bikes to win the National Championship in Canada, and the Twins class would match us up with what is going on south of the border, and control some cost factors. This would also allow more young Canadian racers to compete in the States, too.
“For me, I aim to do less but be more focused, be happy with my overall effort and confident in the direction. I want to get back to where I’ve been in terms of success, and I can do that.
“I still plan to roadrace at the Mopar CSBK rounds if I can, but those plans are still in the works and I don’t want to spread myself too thin. It will be a weird year, it will be busy early in the States, and then we will make plans for the rest of the season based on how things are going.
Lawrence aims to open his 2018 National Tour in a month at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia, April 7. From there, he aims to head west to Texas, California and Arizona.
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:13
The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame held their annual Induction Banquet and Reunion at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel on November 4, with a crowd of over 250 riders, racers, Hall members, fans and industry types on hand to enjoy the festivities. The 12th annual event was sponsored by Husqvarna, with additional support from Joe Rocket, BMW Motorrad Canada, Honda Canada, Flat Track Canada, Yamaha Canada and event founder Bar Hodgson Productions.
Top racer honored at the event was Steve Beattie, the 2016 Flat Track Canada National Champ who suffered a major injury at the end of last season at Ohsweken, and then worked in the pits last summer for the KTM Canada National Motocross program with friend and neighbor Cole Thompson. Beattie has also had success in the U.S. as a chassis tuner and rider coach for top American Flat Trackers Jared Mess and Brad Baker, as well as winning an AMA National himself.
“I think I’m kind of young to be up here,” cracked Beattie when he took the stage after his Audio-Visual introduction. From there, Beattie suggested he’d had a tough career since he didn’t start racing until he was ten, shortly after heading out to buy a bicycle with his dad and returning with a Suzuki 80 dirt bike.
“I have lots of people to thank, especially all my family, and specific people like Jon Cornwell and (fellow inductee) Kurt Beiger,” said the always-jovial Beattie. “I really have to thank my wife Michelle, because if she had stuck to her guns the first time I broke my neck, I would never have done enough to get into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”
Beattie admits to five major neck injuries during his career, forcing at least a couple of retirements, and explains his tolerance for, and ability to forget, pain are major factors in his many successes in a wide variety of two wheeled sport and competition. His first major retirement in 2006 lead to the creation of his chassis set-up business, 26suspension.
Legendary motorcycle builder and tuner Mike Crompton started off by saying that when people have asked how he gets away with being busy with bikes and racing, his wife Kim has always encouraged him to participate and take advantage of the opportunities available.
“In the end, we always have a great time and come back with lots of stories to tell,” confirmed Crompton, who has built title winning machinery for George Morin, Art Robbins, Michel Mercier, Miguel Duhamel, Jordan Szoke in the glory days of the works CSBK Kawasaki program, as well as a host of others.
Crompton explained that is was a great honor to be inducted at the same time as fellow super tuner/builder Nick Kemp, since “he was always a go-to guy when we needed something fixed in a hurry, or if something was wrecked, and we could weld it, or rebuild it, or make another one or a redesign, whatever it took.”
“I have other great friends here tonight who were always there for me like Harald Surian, always part of a top notch fantastic team, and Jon Cornwell (already in the Hall of Fame) who was always a big help and always there when I needed him.
Crompton spoke of his time with Suzuki Canada, Team Manager George Morin, ace racer Michel Mercier (now all in the Hall of Fame) and the mid-1980s, first generation Suzuki GSX-R750 Superbike.
“Michel rode with his heart, an incredible racer and an incredible athlete. But it could be frustrating, and at times we were racing three different motorcycles over a weekend, and there were some incidents.
“Suzuki were great to deal with, but they always insisted the bikes to be blue, and I one time when I was at Suzuki, I asked if we could switch to the red ones, and they wanted to know why. So I told them – I can see them coming out of the sky easier!”
Once the laughs died down, Crompton also wanted to recognize the famous Ontario Honda race Shop in downtown Toronto on Queen Street, and owners Murray Brown and the late Ricky Andrews, a real beehive of activity that supported a wide range of endeavors from the 1970s through the 1990s.
“The best thing with the motorcycles is always the friendship and the camaraderie that goes along with racing. My father-in-law once said that I have the most fascinating array of friends and associates, and I think he meant that in a good way.”
Kurt Bieger, former racer and top Flat Track builder and Tuner, explained that when he started in competition, he crashed a lot. “One of my best friends, and old Brit, asked me why I crashed so much, and I told him the tires just were not good enough!”
“It took me some time to figure out that I had to slow down a little bit. I gradually figured that out, and then, when I got hurt, I started letting other people race my machines so they wouldn’t just sit.”
“In closing, I want to say that It’s hard to explain why anyone spends hours and hours alone working on their race bikes. We’re trying to figure out how to put the combination of bike, rider and track together, day by day. I’m happy to be up here, I’m proud to be part of this group, and thanks everyone.”
Famed Announcer Pat Gonsalves opened his remakes by explaining that he briefly considered having his alter-ego, Guyanese announcer Huntley Williams, speak on his behalf. This took some in the crowd way back, since Gonsalves hadn’t worked that character into his race coverage since the late 1970s at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
With a career spanning many types of motorsports in a variety of countries, both on the P.A. and television, Gonsalves admitted that he has never “met a microphone I didn’t like. This evening is truly special, and I want to thank the group of racers that nominated me for the Hall including Kathleen Coburn, Alan Labrosse and Bernie Ryan.”
“I am filled with gratitude for my career announcing, now at 40 years and counting. Harry McCluney hired me to work with the Canadian Road Racing Club at their events at Mosport when I was at Ryerson in 1972, and I eventually worked at Shannonville for John Nelson when it opened in 1976, and started announcing at Daytona International Speedway in 1977.”
The next event for the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will be the 2018 Banquet and Reunion scheduled for November 17 at the Delta Burnaby Conference Centre in British Columbia.
Sunday, 05 November 2017 01:09
Mathew Scholtz of South Africa made history at Barber Motorsport Park’s final 2017 MotoAmerica round, the Honda Championship of Alabama, with a win for the Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 team. In a much delayed race with major drainage and traction issues, "“second tier” Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class racer Scholtz (the newly-crowned class Champ) hung on to some wild slides to take the overall, as well as his class, win.
Earlier, Scholtz had crashed in spectacular style heading onto the front straight, a victim of a suddenly increasing rain storm, just as the race was stopped. After a lengthy, hour-plus delay, the race was re-launched for a third time over 12 laps, rather than the originally-scheduled 21.
Scholtz took the lead from the re-start ahead of Champ Toni Elias on a Yoshimura-Suzuki, but soon veteran Josh Hayes took control on a Monster Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike. But eventually Hayes was caught by the Broaster Chicken Honda of Jake Gage as well as Elias and Scholtz.
Gage crashed out of second and the battle for the lead with two laps to go, the Scholtz survived a moment or two out of the saddle to take the win, Elias second (first Superbike) with Hayes (second in Superbike) third overall. Gagne set the fastest lap of the race.
“I looked back on the second last lap and saw Jake was right there,” explained Scholtz. “So I was just trying to hold him off, focusing on getting the drive so no one could pass me. I was a little over eager, but I survived, and now I’m really over the moon.”
Pole sitter Roger Hayden (Yoshimura-Suzuki) opted not to take part due to concerns with track conditions, specifically sealer, and third-on-the-grid Josh Herrin pulled into the pits on his Yamaha after the sighting laps.
Veteran Jason DiSalvo was fifth overall and third in Superbike with the WD40-backed BMW – only three of the Feature class bikes made it to the finish!
Hayden Gillim was fourth overall on the “Cycle World” Suzuki, second in Superstock, while Danny Eslick earned sixth overall with his TOBC Racing Yamaha in Motul Superbike, and third in Superstock 1000.
Mopar Canadian Superbike ace Kenny Riedmann had a rough day, starting with a practice fall Sunday morning due to a technical issue with his Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja. Then in the second start for Superbike, he went down in the rain before the race was stopped at the end of the opening lap.
In the final Superbike portion, Riedmann worked through the pack to net a solid ninth overall, sixth in the Superstock category, even though he was nursing a damaged shoulder.
In the final-ever event of the KTM RC Cup, Quebec’s Alex Dumas wound up sixth at the finish after a wild, sometimes 12 bike strong, slipstreaming battle at the front. A three bike crash coming out of the final turn on the last lap mixed-up the results, with new KTM Champ Benjamin Smith winning from Gavin Anthony and Sean Ungvarsky. Next year, the KTM series will be replaced in MotoAmerica by a Lightweight class open to all manufacturers.
“Five wins this season was awesome but this one was really, really special,” said victor Smith. “These guys were flying, I am so glad I pulled it off and got the Championship. Overall it was a fantastic season, I have learned so much, the whole series is fantastic, I can’t thank KTM enough. We’ll go over to Spain and show what we can do.”
MotoAmerica rookie Dumas winds up third overall in the Championship, and also earns a trip to the RC Cup World KTM final event held in conjunction with the World Superbike event in Jerez, Spain, next month. After a crash in Saturday’s opener, former title contender Dumas ran as high as fourth and as far back as eighth in the lead pack over the course of the race.
Newly crowned Kawasaki Ninja 300 Spec series National Champ Xavier Paradis’ rough weekend in Alabama continued, the teen-ager crashing in the morning warm-up aboard the “Roadracing World” magazine backed wild card KTM RC Cup entry. In the 11-lap race, Paradis was running at the back of the lead group early when he suffered a spectacular fall in the final turn, ending his first career event in the U.S. after almost-five laps.
In Supersport and Superstock 600 combined class action, Alberta’s Braeden Ortt scored his second podium spot of the weekend, earning third on the Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. New Champ Jason Agular took the run away win on the Riderzlaw Yamaha, Nick McFadden second.
“I had some rear grip issues, and a weeper came up on the track,” explained Ortt, referring to track drainage issues caused by recent heavy rains associated with Hurricanes. “Over some of the hills the bike was a real shit show, but really there were no major issues, and everyone is battling this heat.
“Conner Blevins (fourth finisher on a Kawasaki) and I really went back and forth,” continued first-year MotoAmerica rider Ortt. “I saw where he was slower, and I finally made a tight but safe pass in the second-last corner. It was still tight right to the end.
“We lost the pace of the guys ahead a little bit, there were a few close calls, and we faded back from the leaders. In the end it worked out. I don’t know what was going on the first half of the season, but I’ve figured it out – it was a great season, really enjoyed it, and we’ll be making some announcements soon.
Ortt’s sponsors include Shoei, Cortech, Wolf Custom Homes, Graves Motorsport ands FT-ECU.
In the premier Supersport 600 division, recently-crowned Champ Garrett Gerloff shook off his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha team-mate J.D. Beach to take the win, and speculated on the podium that he would leave the category after five seasons. M4 Ecstar Suzuki’s Valentin Debise placed third.
2017 Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champ Tomas Casas sat out Sunday action at Barber, after crashing during Saturday’s 600 class event with the Parts Canada/Dunlop-backed Yamaha YZF-R6. Casas, who injured his shoulder, was at the track with his arm in a sling, and took advantage of his enforced break to take his team to the famous local motorcycle museum.
Sunday, 17 September 2017 19:23
Alberta’s Braeden Ortt had another strong MotoAmerica effort at Barber Motorsports Park, placing seventh overall and third in class in the combined Supersport and Superstock 600 race at the Honda Championship of Alabama. Riding a Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 with special Canadian flag paint job, Ortt ran near the front and worked his way up make the Superstock class Podium in the penultimate race of the American National motorcycle roadracing tour.
“We brought this Canada bike to our last round, and I’m super glad to put it up on the podium,” explained Ortt, completing his first year on the American tour. “This is for all our Canadian supporters.”
Meanwhile another top teen-aged Canadian, newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike National Champion Tomas Casas, had a frustrating outing on his Parts Canada/Dunlop supported Yamaha Canada entry. After technical issues in Qualifying, Casas won the Last Chance race, making it onto the back of the Superstock grid.
In the race, Casas charged through to a potentially solid position, only to suffer a big crash in the Museum section of the track mid-race. Casas got up from the fall but was sent to Medical for an evaluation, and his title-winning Yamaha was badly damaged in the single bike incident.
JD Beach won the Supersport and overall race for the Monster Energy works Yamaha Team, with M4 Suzuki’s Valentin Debise almost ten seconds back for second overall. Garrett Gerloff on the other factory Yamaha diced with Beach early, ran off track, then charged back to earn third and clinch the Supersport series championship.
Jason Aguilar earned the win in “second 600 class.” Superstock, with the Riderzlaw Yamaha, and holds the Championship points lead with only tomorrow’s race left to run.
In the Motul Superbike and Bazzaz Superstock event for 1000cc machines, pole sitter Roger Hayden survived two re-starts to earn the win, holding off the Monster Yamaha of Josh Herrin by just .7 of a second. Herrin made a big push with two laps to got, but a near-crash (dramatic front end tuck!) slowed his challenge.
Matthew Scholtz of South Africa was third overall, first in Superstock, aboard a Yamalube-backed Westby Yamaha. Jake Gagne recovered from a big practice cash to put the Broaster Chicken Honda into fourth overall, ahead of Danny Eslick on the TOBC Yamaha and Hayden Gillim in sixth on the “Cycle World” Suzuki.
Newly crowned MotoAmerica Champ Toni Elias of Spain was challenging in third place mid-race when he ran wide chasing Herrin, then falling into the gravel trap at low speed. Elias did remount, but opted to retire soon after the incident.
Canadian Kenny Riedmann was looking set for a top ten placing, working through the field on the Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja. However, Riedmann was forced to retire late in the race with a technical issue, listed as a DNF.
A full slate of National events is scheduled for tomorrow, with expected continued warm and humid conditions, including the final rounds for all three of the major National MotoAmerica classes.
Saturday, 16 September 2017 18:05
Alex Dumas was mathematically eliminated from contention for the KTM RC Cup Championship after a wild opening race of the final 2017 MotoAmerica weekend at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama. Aboard his JP43 Junior Team KTM single, Dumas started sixth and worked his way up to battle for the lead, only to crash mid-race in turn two. Dumas was uninured, and will race in tomorrow’s final MotoAmerica series event.
The crash meant that Dumas’ four race win streak was at an end, and he can not win the overall Championship for young guns aboard identical KTM motorcycles. He still holds third in the rankings, and the top three riders in the final American series standings will be invited to attend the KTM World Final in Jerez, Spain, next month.
Cory Ventura won the race to take over the KTM points lead, Sean Ungvarsky second from Benjamin Smith in a great six rider battle for the win. Smith is second in the standings behind Ventura, 249-240.
Canadian Kawasaki Ninja 300 spec Series Champion Xavier Paradis made his American debut in the same KTM race. The Canuk spec series title holder worked his way up to a solid 11th overall after crashing in Qualifying and starting at the back of the grid. Paradis earned the chance to compete as a wild card on a media bike entered by “Roadracing World” Magazine.
Reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champion Tomas Casas had a busy morning, qualifying for the Supersport/Superstock 600 race but getting DQed following his morning session. Casas had an illegal inlet option in the air box of his Yamaha R6, a modification allowed in the Canadian Championships.
So Casas started from the back of the “Last Chance Qualifier,” needing a top placing to make the main event. He blasted into the lead and pulled away to win by 15 seconds and earn a spot at the back of the grid (29th overall!) in this afternoon’s race. Casas will need to win tomorrow’s LCQ race as well if he wishes to race in Sunday’s main event for 600cc middleweight machinery.
“Yeah, that was a bit of extra work,” smiled Casas on an overcast but very humid day at the beautiful barber facility. “That will be the biggest grid I’ve been on in a while. We’re working away at getting faster, making changes, and we’re making progress, bit by bit. If I can get going early in the race, I should improve some more.”
In Motul Superbike/Bazzaz Superstock SuperPole final qualifying, Roger Hayden continued his hot streak to earn pole for Yoshimura-Suzuki and the new-for-2017 GSX-R1000. Using the special Dunlop yellow-sidewall rear slick, Hayden turned a best lap at 1:24.091 in the final 15-minute session, hisx seventh Pole of 2017. Hayden was also fastest in the sessions leading into SuperPole, with a tour of the 16-turn venue at 1:25.97.
Newly crowned Superstock Champ Mathew Scholtz was second quickest on his Westby Yamaha R1 with a best lap of 1:24.19, Josh Herrin third on the works Yamaha superbike at 1:24.86, followed by newly crowned overall Champion Toni Elias of Spain on the second Yosh Suzuki with a best of 1:25.0.
This afternoon’s schedule includes the penultimate races for both the Supersport/Superstock class (2:25 PM local time) and the featured Motul Superbike/Bazzaz Superstock 1000cc divisions (3:30 PM).
Saturday, 16 September 2017 14:35
The opening day of the Honda Championship of Alabama presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken included the final combined Provisional Pole session for Motul Superbike and Bazzaz Superstock 1000cc machines prior to Saturday’s SuperPole session. In a busy day in the final 2017 event of the MotoAmerica National series, Yoshimura-Suzuki’s veteran Roger Hayden was quickest with a time of 1:25.97 on the works GSX-R1000 Superbike.
Former Series Champ Josh Herrin, filling in for the injured Cameron Beaubier on the works Monster/Graves Yamaha team, has a strong second outing on the works YZF-R1, placing second best with a lap at 1:26.28.
The top Superstock entry for less-modified 1000cc machines in the second, Friday afternoon session was South African Mathew Scholtz on a Yamaha, third quickest at 1:26.408. Scholtz has already won the Superstock title for Westby Racing outfit. Newly crowned overall series Champ Toni Elias was sixth best on the seconds factory Yosh-Suzuki.
Kenny Riedmann made his first career entry in the Superstock category with his Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja, and wound up 16th overall in the red flag-interrupted afternoon 1000cc session. Mitch Card, another rising Canadian Pro start racer, was scheduled to compete in the same category as Riedmann with his Yamaha YZF-R1, but a last minute issue with his racing licence meant Card could not enter the MotoAmerica event.
The top 12 riders will advance to the 15-minute final session to establish the front of the Feature race grid, late tomorrow morning, using special soft Dunlop “Q” tires. The first of the two 1000cc races is scheduled for 3:30 tomorrow, but there have been some delays due to rain seeping through the usually-pristine track surface. There has been considerable rain in the Birmingham area recently, a left over effect of Hurricane Irma.
Qualifying for the KTM Cup spec series for single cylinder machines was rescheduled for tomorrow due to the various water control issues with the track. 15-year-old French-Canadian class rookie Alex Dumas is riding a four race win streak in the KTM class, and has a serious shot at the Championship in the final two races this weekend. Dumas was sixth fastest in the morning session, having run as high as first before he suffered a late crash in his first outing at the track. He was uninjured.
Newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champ Tomas Casas had an encouraging first day as a MotoAmerica competitor, placing his Parts Canada/Dunlop supported Yamaha Canada R6 seventh overall in the “second tier” Supersport and Superstock 600 afternoon Practice with a lap at 1:34.6.
MotoAmerica Series regular Braeden Ortt of Alberta on a Tuned Racing Yamaha R6 was 11th quickest in the Group One session, turning a lap at 1:31.6. Fastest overall in the combined two 600cc classes was newly crowned Champ Garrett Gerloff aboard a Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha R6 at 1:28.18.
“I’m gaining confidence with the bike on this track,” confirmed a cheerful Casas at the end of a very warm day at Barber Motorsport Park. “The bike feels good settings wise, and the adjustments we have made so far have helped.
“I need to work more on the blind corners, and the braking areas, there is so much going on with this track,” confirmed 18-year-old Casas of the hilly, 16 turn venue. “Some of the turns I’m still lacking confidence; that really affects your lap time on a blind section of this track.
“If I can pick up some corner speed, I know I’ll gain some confidence,” continued the 2018 Pro Middleweight Canadian number one plate holder. “The I can really focus on riding with other people and picking up some pointers; so far I have been by myself. That will be a focus of Qualifying tomorrow.
“Overall, it was a lot of fun for my first day. My goal is to make it all the way through the weekend, not to crash, to ride all the time in every session and race and get the greatest opportunity to learn. I want to stay within my limits.”
The first 600cc class race for Ortt and Casas is schedule for 2:25 tomorrow afternoon, with the initial KTM spec race including title contender Dumas slated for the end of the day Saturday at 4:35.
Friday, 15 September 2017 18:30
The final event of the 2017 MotoAmerica National road racing Championship takes place this weekend at Barber Motorsport Park, and Quebec’s Alex Dumas heads south with the chance to win the KTM RC Cup Championship. The 15-year-old is coming off a remarkable, record setting four-race win streak at the most recent rounds last weekend at New Jersey and previously at Pittsburgh.
Dumas is second in the Championship standings after eight rounds with only the pair of Barber races left to run, one point behind co-Championship leaders Cory Ventura and Benjamin Smith, the KTM spec series points totals reading 224-224-223.
Showing impressive form in his first season on the American tour, Dumas is just one of several Canuks who could feature at the Alabama event.
Officially called the Honda Championship of Alabama presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken, the event is the tenth and final round of the MotoAmerica Championship and will include two races each for three MOPAR CSBK Canadian National stars.
Belfountain, ON. based Kenny Riedmann will compete aboard the same Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja he took the second overall in the 2017 Canadian Superbike Championship behind BMW’s Jordan Szoke.
After spending most of the season on a Yamaha YZF-R6 battling Tomas Casas for the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Championship, Ripley, ON’s Mitch Card will focus on the big bike classes at Barber. Card will switch to the Yamaha YZF-R1 he used during the final Superbike events of the season last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Card earned 10th/11th place results on his 1000cc racer backed by Shoei, Dunlop, Vortex, Goderich Toyota, DP, Maclyn Dust Control, Bluestreak, Bickle, Dynojet and Liqui Moly.
Newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike National Champion Casas, aged 18 from Peterborough, ON, will make his American racing debut at Barber, aboard his title-winning Yamaha R6.
“This will be a big step, my first race in the States,” admits Casas. “I’m really excited to get out there, to see what it’s all about. Sandy Noce from Dunlop said that the track is a little like Calabogie, a track with technical corners and not too much in terms of straight-aways. I’ve been watching videos to learn the track; mentally I think I have it fairly sorted out, but that’s not the same as racing on the bikes!”
Casas will be joining the “second” middleweight category in the MotoAmerica Series, the Superstock class run in conjunction with the premier Supersport division, also for 600cc class machinery. Currently, Braeden Ortt of Calgary, AB., is the only Canadian who contests the Superstock series as a regular, aboard the Tuned Racing Yamaha. Earlier this season, 17-year-old Ortt won a round at Sears Point, CA.
Assisting Casas at the venue will be his father, as well as former Casas team-mate and front-running National Superbike privateer Franklyn Dominguez. This duo will work in the pit lane for Casas during his on-track sessions around Barber’s popular 17 turn, 2.3-mile-long layout.
The Riedmann Management Kawasaki team is also expected to be help Casas, since racer and three-time Canadian middle weight Champ Kenny does not compete in the same class as Casas and therefore the two racers will not be on the track at the same time. Former racer and famed chassis consultant Jon Cornwell will also assist newly crowned Canadian number one Casas with set-up on his Yamaha Canada entry.
“I’m missing some High School but I’ll catch up,” continued Casas. “I’m trying to work ahead; I don’t want to do too much homework on the trip!
“I want to say a big thank you to the Riedmanns, they’re really making all this possible. The I have to thank Pro 6 and Dunlop, they’re looking after our tires. Also my new sponsors DP Brakes and ASM Motorsports. As well I have to include my solid regulars, Yamaha Canada, Parts Canada, Brooklin Cycle Racing, Blue Streak Racing, Vortex, Bickle Racing, Flexiglass, Human 2.0, Hindle Exhaust, Peterborough Cycle Salvage and HB Cycle.
“This is probably our last race of the season, for what we have planned,” says Casas. “There is some possibility we might go to the last round of the Dominican Republic Championship. But right now my focus is on Friday morning at Barber, and getting the best set-up right away to get ready for Qualifying.”
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 22:56
Doug Lawrence “was chasing the ball” all day at the famous Harley-Davidson sponsored Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds September 3, but ultimately had too many issues to make the 25 lap Main Event, National round 15 for American Flat Track Twins.
After brake troubles forced 2015 Flat Track Canada Champ Lawrence of Mississauga, ON., from the grid in his third Heat race, Lawrence’s Weirbach Kawasaki Ninja 650 won the Last Chance Qualifier to make it into the next race, the opening Semi Final. Unfortunately, a charging Lawrence had a clutch issue and was forced to retire, ending his day.
Fellow former Canadian Champ Don Taylor of Port Colborne, ON, travelled to Springfield with Lawrence and made it to his Semi with a strong fifth place finish in Heat Race number three. Aboard a Racing Unlimited/Bel Ray/Motovan supported Kawasaki twin, Taylor retired from Semi race number one just one lap later than Lawrence, also with a clutch problem.
“Those five laps of feeling awesome again on a race bike were great,” confirmed Parts Canada backed Lawrence while returning from the Springfield. “You want to get that felling back, but I don’t want to have any problems. I adapting well to getting back on the Kawasaki, but you have to be so in touch with the bike to achieve any results at this level.”
Lawrence explained that “the track was very similar to 2013; in the past three years it was good grip with a narrow line, grooved, but his year it was so much more wide open, and I really liked it.
“The bike I rode yesterday wasn’t as fast as the Kawasaki I used in previous years, but it did handle better – the old bike was only aimed at big tracks like Indy or Springfield. This bike I rode yesterday was easier to ride from zero to eighty percent, with a lot more throttle feel. It’s a C & J chassis, the same as before, but the engine really affects how the bike works overall.”
As with his single previous outing on the Weirbach Kawasaki at the Black Hills Half Mile at Rapid City, South Dakota, Lawrence explains that “I was way off with gearing to start with, not in the ballpark, and the bike wasn’t revving hard at all – we had to add teeth. Than I started climbing the ladder. I added another tooth of gearing, and I might have even gone further for the Semi, but didn’t get a chance to ride.
“Then in the first heat, the caliper wasn’t attached properly, and it came off on the way to the grid, and ripped the brake line off. So that pushed us into the LCQ.
“We have zero points, so we don’t have a drafting partner – we aren’t near anyone in the top ten in points, so that hurts our laps, and I’m riding with guys who are a second and a half off the pace – we can’t really help each other.”
In the Last Chance Qualifier, Lawrence hooked up with Weirbach team-mate Chad Cose to fight for victory, eventually winning by 0.14 of a second.
“Racing with Chad Coss for the win in the LCQ, that was sweet,” confirmed Lawrence. “We were finally starting to run the way we should.
“Then into the semi, I’m behind the eight ball again, they take the top nine. I knew I was fast, I could do it, but if someone broke up the draft, that would be a problem. I was up to fourth or fifth, watching (eventual winner Jared) Mees around the bottom, sliding everywhere, and I figured I could catch these guys and get to the front, maybe get a second or third.
“Then I had two laps while my bike was slowing, before I put my hand up, and then I had to stop. It was weird, the clutch problem – we think Don had the same issue on the next lap. They’ll look at the engines today or tomorrow.”
Lawrence also explained that “Taylor was going good, and he is someone who can hop in and race – he truly can. He was in the ballpark, but he was starting to struggle with grip. We were all struggling for grip.”
As far as the remaining three National rounds of the American Flat Track tour are concerned, Lawrence says that “I would consider going out west to ride the last race, but I need to know the bike is good – so I’ll see if I can put something together. We did have five or six awesome laps, so that’s encouraging.”
Monday, 04 September 2017 16:01
Brodie Buchan of Leamington, ON., clinched the 2017 Open Expert Championship and the Flat Track Canada overall number one plate for 2018 with victory in the Feature race at the three quarters of a mile long oval at Georgian Downs in Barrie, ON., round seven of the nine round National tour.
Second year Pro racer Buchan, age 18, rode a “framer” Honda built by Kurt Biegger to the win in the main event, holding off the 600cc Sehl Rotax piloted by Dustin Brown of Utterson, ON. Aboard the single-cylinder racer usually piloted by Don Taylor of Port Colborne, ON., Brown spent most of the race less than one second behind leader Buchan before mounting a charge late in the race.
On the last of 15 laps in cool but fortunately not rainy conditions, Brown got close exiting the final turn, but wound up about one bike length short at the finish line. Honda mounted Tyler Seguin of Welland, ON, was less then a second behind the leaders for third place.
Pre-race favorite and opening Heat Race victor Chris Evans of Jordan Station, ON., earned a solitary fourth aboard the only Harley-Davidson XR750 twin in the field. Last year, Steve Beattie won the title riding a Bieger Honda and his own, Brian Olsen built Harley, but Beattie opted not to compete in 2017 due to injuries suffered at the end of last season.
Honda-mounted Brandon Seguin of Welland, ON, was fifth ahead of Cody Marentette of Tilbury, ON, also on a Honda CRF450R.
Frequent Flat Track Canada front runners Doug Lawrence (2015 Champ) and Don Taylor (winner at the most recent round in Belleville, ON.) are in the U.S.A. this weekend competing in American Flat Track National events in Springfield, Ill.
“It feels good, since we knew we had to win to get the Championship tonight, “started winner Buchan. “This is gold to come in here and get the win. I’m really happy with the bike and our pace.”
“Looking at the race, I know this isn’t really my kind of track,” continued Buchan of his title charge with two events left to run on the 2017 National Schedule. “I started well, and just tried to maintain my pace, but I knew I was working the tire. We put a lot of work in early in the season, things went according to plan and that allowed us to clinch if we got the win here, and we hung on to get it.”
Bike builder Bieger confirmed that after engine problems at the same track a year ago,” trying to keep up with the Harleys,” he built a special Honda mill for Buchan’s title run, completed the Friday night before the Barrie event.
15-year-old runner-up Brown was clearly frustrated not to get Buchan at the line, and after the race explained that “I was really trying for the win, but I just couldn’t quite make it happen. It was my first time riding Taylor’s Rotax, built by Jim Sehl, and its just as good as I expected.”
Seguin also thought he was close to the leader’s pace, but “I couldn’t quite make it work the way I wanted. It’s been an up-and-down year, with good luck and it seems like a lot of bad luck. The next tracks on the tour (Wheatley on September 16 and the series final at Ohsweken September 23) are good for me, so we’re still working for a win.”
Seguin went on to thank George Evans and Parts Canada and Performance ATV Leisure, as well as “everyone at the track.” Buchan is backed by Kurt Biegger Racing, Joe Rocket and Honda Canada, while Brown’s backers include Bracebridge Machine, Sehl Racing, Moto Gear, Performance ATV, Ryno Power and Fuel Clothing.
The Expert DTX event was expected to be one of the best events of the program, after two great heat races. But front runner Dave Pouliot of Quebec City, QC, couldn’t get his Kawasaki to fire on the line, and Brown had a remote starter problem with Taylor’s stock framed Yamaha. This gave Buchan a solid jump, and he ran away to win by over a quarter of a lap, Marentette holding off unretired Braden Vallee in a good dice for second place out of four total finishers in the “production” class!
New Champ Buchan also held off Brown in another leg of their building rivalry in the Dash-For-Cash, meaning Buchan and Biegger went three-for-three in Expert class events at Georgian Downs.
Also attracting attention was Honda-mounted Trent Pickle of Essex, ON., first overall in Intermediate DTX as well as Intermediate Open class action in Barrie.
Sunday, 03 September 2017 01:38
Leamington’s Brodie Buchan continued his recent form with success at the 61st annual George Pepper Classic at the Belleville, ON. half mile Flat Track Canada National on Saturday night, August 13. Aboard the Kurt Biegger Racing Honda single, Buchan earned his third Feature victory in the fifth round of the nine race Parts Canada-backed National Tour.
The final race was initially headed by fast starting Kawasaki racer Dave Pouliot of Quebec City, but unfortunately two incidents caused a red flag and spoiled Pouliot’s lightning get away.
At the restart, Buchan took control to dominate, just as he did a week earlier at Flamboro, ON. Second overall was a ware between Tyler Seguin of Welland, ON, aboard a George Evans tuned Honda and rookie Pro Justin Brown on a Yamaha.
At the finish, Seguin took the runner-up honors while 15-year-old Brown earned his second straight Podium placing with third.
DTX Intermediate points leader Jimmy McCullough of Paris, ON., won that race on his Honda, and earned the “Inside Motorcycles” hard charger award for run from fifth to first, late in the race.
Attracting plenty of attention was 2011 Mopar CSBK National Superbike Champion Brett McCormick of Saskatoon, SK, in his first-ever career Flat Track aboard a spare Beattie Honda prepared by KBR. Last year, McCormick qualified for a National Motocross event in the Feature class aboard a Kawasaki, and is trying a variety of motorcycle competition disciplines.
McCormick has been practicing on Tuesday nights at the tight Paris venue, and was moving to a big track, first race and first National, with considerable interest.
In his first Intermediate heat, McCormick ran in second spot early and was in third place when he brushed the wall exiting the second turn. McCormick jammed his foot against the fence, and was forced to pull in for medical attention.
Taken to Hospital by fellow former Superbike National Champ Jodi Christie, McCormick returned to the track on crutches with a bandage on his right foot for broken toes. A hospital visit in Toronto will determine if he needs surgery.
“It was going well, it was fun, I only got about ten laps, and I’d be a lot happier if I got to ride the whole night - now I’m a little sour,” admitted McCormick.
“It wasn’t a ride over your head mistake, but it was a lack of experience, I guess. I have people to thank - Doug Beattie made yesterday happen, and Aaron (Flat Track Canada boss Hesmer) gave me an avenue to try something new, make that happen.”
The next round of the Flat Track Canada Nationals is scheduled for the Western Fair District in London, ON, on August 26. An Ontario Regional race takes place at the short Shannonville venue, next door to the famed road course, this afternoon.
Sunday, 13 August 2017 13:22