This weekend marks the series' inaugural visit to the southwestern Ontario track near the shores of Lake Huron.
Pro Superbike practice was topped by defending class champion Jordan Szoke (Lynden, ON), who established a new outright track record with a 1:04.242 (123.284 km/h) on his Mopar Express Lane BMW S1000RR. Szoke, winner of the season opener at Shannonville Motorsport Park, was the fastest of five racers in the 1:04 zone.
"Everybody's struggling here a bit," said Szoke after Friday's 40-minute Pro Superbike practice session. "The track has very low grip, so tire wear is a big issue. It's nice to do a fast lap, but you need to do a bunch of them on race day. So we've really been trying to improve the tire wear, and we think we've got a pretty good handle on it now.
"We're very optimistic for the race, but we're making some big changes again to improve things for tomorrow," continued Szoke who, like all racers, is using the exclusive range of approved Dunlop slick spec tires.
Second place in Pro Superbike was Ben Young (Collingwood, ON), whose fastest time on his Scot-Build Developments BMW put him just 0.074 seconds behind Szoke. "The bike felt good," said the 2016 Brooklin Cycle Pro Rookie of the Year. "We tried some new stuff with the chassis setup, and the bike works like a dream. It's a completely different bike from last year, and it's working even better than last year. It was a positive first day."
Kenny Riedmann (Belfountain, ON) set the third-fastest time in Pro Superbike on Friday with a 1:04.415—just 0.173 seconds behind Szoke—but suffered two crashes during the afternoon session. "The bike is good, and the track is good," said the Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki rider, who walked away from both incidents without injury. "I just made a couple of mistakes out there, trying to get my race pace down. I learned a lot from it, and we're gonna come out swinging tomorrow and qualify on the pole."
David MacKay (Hamilton, ON), a Grand Bend regular, ran the fastest lap in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike practice with a 1:06.170 on his ex-Riedmann Motovan/MacK AttacK Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R. The top five all posted times in the 1:06 range, with 0.740 seconds separating MacKay and Chris Brent (Ottawa, ON) in fifth. Tomas Casas (Peterborough, ON) ended the day second on his Peterborough Cycle/Parts Canada-backed Yamaha YZF-R6, with a fastest lap that was just 0.079 seconds behind MacKay.
"This is my home track, so the comfort level was already there at the beginning of the weekend," said MacKay. "All day the bike's been feeling good, and I've just been getting faster."
The surprise of Pro Sport Bike to this point is the reappearance of former two-time class champion Frank Trombino (Etobicoke, ON), who qualified third on his Honda CBR600RR with a 1:06.355. Mitch Card (Kitchener, ON), runner-up at the Shannonville opener, took fourth on his Goderich Toyota/Shoei Helmets R6. Brent rounded out the top five on his Direct Bore Racing Honda.
In Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike action, Ernest Bernhard (St-Bridige, QC) took the top spot on his No. 72 Yamaha R1 with a 1:07.898, narrowly edging out Shannonville winner Samuel Desmarais (Lasalle, QC) by 0.016 seconds. Brandon Pemberton (Windsor, NS) rounded out the top three, the quickest of five riders in the 1:09s separated by just 0.338 seconds.
Shoei Helmets Amateur Sport Bike was topped by Aaron Burns (South Mountain, ON), who turned in a 1:07.930 on his Yamaha R6. Desmarais (Lasalle, QC) and fellow Quebec racer Danny Cayen (Issoudun, QC) took the second and third positions, respectively.
Rookie teenager Xavier Paradis (Shannon, QC) led Kawasaki Ninja 300 spec Race Series practice. Jake Leclair sits atop the RACE Mopar Express Lane Lightweight list, while Pat Barnes (Goderich, ON) topped the Goderich Toyota and Goderich Honda Heavyweight/Middleweight class.
Action begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday with practice and qualifying for all classes, plus support races throughout the afternoon.