Insiders predicted the fastest lap times to be in the 1:04-second range prior to the start of the weekend, but top Superbike racers had dipped into the 1:03s during morning practice. By the conclusion of the Dalton Timmis Insurance Pro Superbike Top Ten Qualifier, the top four were all in that zone, led by Szoke (Lynden, ON), who leads the grid going into Sunday with a 1:03.200 lap on his Mopar Express Lane BMW S1000RR.
"All the teams and riders are working hard to find traction on this track," said the defending champion. "Going into qualifying we were really confident with our setup for a fast time – I thought maybe a 1:02.9 – but the wind was crazy. The bike would wheelie in fifth gear just from the pure wind speeds. It was making the bike unstable through the whole gearbox on the straightaway.
"I did another three or four laps right close to the pole time, which is very encouraging going into the race. We know we can do a whole handful of laps in the 1:03s, and hopefully we're going to be the only ones that can do that."
Ben Young (Collingwood, ON) put in a valiant effort to claim second on the grid thanks to a 1:03.459 from his Scot-Build Developments BMW, 0.259 seconds back from the top qualifier. Bodhi Edie (Warman, SK) earned third on his Z1 Tuning Yamaha YZF-R1, a further 0.133 seconds behind Young. Veterans Frank Trombino (Etobicoke, ON) and Michael Leon (Beaconsfield, QC) rounded out the top five.
"The first part of qualifying was tough," said Young. "I went out with used tires and rode as hard as I could, but I could only do a 1:04.9, which was kind of scary. So we put a soft (Dunlop) on and dropped a second and a half, and we keep getting closer and closer to Jordan."
Third-place Edie was pleased with his qualifying pace. "I'm starting to come to terms with the track quite well," he noted. "Right off the hop in qualifying we were able to put down some low lap times, so we're feeling pretty comfortable. The whole crew has been working so hard today; every time we go out we make a little more headway, and we'll just keep taking these baby steps to the top."
In Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike, Trombino (Etobicoke, ON) became the second racer this season to claim pole position after a year away from the National Series. The former two-time Pro Sport Bike champion was the first and only rider in the 600 class to record a lap in the 1:04-second range with a 1:04.989 aboard a ProStar-supported Honda CBR600RR.
"This was a last-minute thing; a lot of individual people stepped up to make it happen," said the 44-year-old veteran, who hadn't previously qualified on the pole for a National race in more than a decade. "I feel really good. I'm not taking it too serious. I'm just giving it 100 percent, not competing with anybody mentally. If you try too hard you get stressed out, and you end up going backwards. We're here more for fun, but we're thankful that we're back."
Just 0.012 seconds back from Trombino was Tomas Casas (Peterborough, ON), who will start second on the grid on his Peterborough Cycle/Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 by virtue of a 1:05.001-second lap early in the 20-minute qualifier.
"It was a close one, that's for sure," said 17-year-old Casas, who is 27 years younger than polesitter Trombino. "But the race (tomorrow) is a different story. It's a long race and it's going to be humid, so being consistent and finishing will be key."
The top five in the middleweight Pro Sport Bike category was rounded out by local regional SOAR racer David McKay (Hamilton, ON), Shannonville top qualifier Kristopher Garvie (Caledon, ON), and another SOAR regular, Dylan Bauer (Breslaw, ON).
Pole in the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class was nabbed by Ernest Bernhard (Ste-Brigite, QC) on his R1, while Samuel Desmarais (Lasalle, QC) will lead the Shoei Helmets Amateur Sport Bike class into race action on his Kawasaki ZX-6R.
The first Goderich Toyota and Goderich Honda Heavyweight/Middleweight Vintage race of the weekend was won by VRRA regular Tim Ruhl (Hillsburg, ON) on his 1982 Suzuki GS1100 Katana. The winner in RACE Mopar Express Lane Lightweight was Nicolas Meunier (Verdun, QC) on his Ninja 300, Xavier Paradis (Shannon, QC) earned the first of two weekend races in the Kawasaki Ninja 300 Race Series.
Sunday's action at "The Bend" begins at 9 a.m. with practice in all classes, followed by opening ceremonies and final races in all professional and amateur categories.