Szoke narrowly wins thrilling Round Two at Grand Bend
Grand Bend, ON – June 10, 2018 – It wasn't easy, but three-time defending champion Jordan Szoke added another track to his win list on Sunday at round two of the Mopar® Canadian Superbike Championship from the Grand Bend Motorplex.
Szoke, searching for his record 13th Mopar Pro Superbike title in 2018, started his Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR from second – a rare occurrence in itself – after Collingwood, ON,'s Ben Young secured pole position earlier in the day.
However, Szoke managed to snatch the holeshot from the Scot-Build BMW of Young, and seemed poised to stretch his lead before quickly being reeled back in by a group consisting of Young, Samuel Trepanier from St. Isidore, QC,’s and local fan-favourite Steven Nickerson out of Hamilton, ON.
The four riders ran in unison for the early parts of the race before the Honda CBR1000RR of Nickerson eventually dropped back, later crashing out around the midway point in what was an unfortunate result for the youngster. The trio of Szoke, Young, and Trepanier continued to run together at the front but was later trimmed to a two-horse race after the Blysk Racing BMW of Trepanier got held up by lapped traffic.
Young had appeared to be on his way to his first career Pro Superbike victory, passing Szoke for the lead late in the race and continuing to maintain the top spot right up until the final lap. However, the more experienced Szoke was able to maneuver his way through more lapped traffic in the final corner, pulling off a daring pass on Young to win his second consecutive race to begin the season.
"I knew this track was strong for Ben, so at first, I just wanted to ride smart and slow the pace," Szoke said. "But he got by me and I was able to hang on, then in the last corner, he hesitated and I was able to slip it by him."
Szoke rolled the dice by electing to start the race on a brand-new S1000RR, one that he rode for the first time on the National circuit during Dalton Timmis Insurance SuperPole on Sunday morning, though it evidently payed off after he and his crew "made the necessary changes."
The Lynden, ON, veteran was also quick to praise his younger counterparts, saying Young was "phenomenal" and that he and Trepanier, among others, "are the future" of CSBK racing.
As for Young, it was a bittersweet result for the 2016 Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year, as he picked up a valuable second-place finish but once again fell just short on his quest to find the top of the box.
"We didn't really enter with a strategy, we just tried to roll with it and see how the race went, but then I got slowed down by some yellow flags," Young lamented. "On the last lap, I wanted a really good drive [onto the back straightaway] but it was actually one of my worst drives of the race, and then we ran into some lappers and that's where Jordan got me."
The former MotoAmerica and British Superbike rider remained optimistic, shifting his focus to the rest of the season ahead.
"We're in it for the long haul," Young said. "So it's good to grab some points for the end of the season, hopefully grab the big trophy at [Canadian Tire Motorsport Park]."
Trepanier, though forced out of the battle for first, managed to secure a strong third-place finish and was all smiles after the race.
"It was amazing battling with them at the front, we're really happy to be here," Trepanier said. "We had a really good qualifying session but, hopefully, next year, I can be standing on the top spot in the race."
The podium finishers were followed by Beaconsfield, QC,'s Michael Leon, who turned in another strong result in fourth aboard his Royal Distributing BMW, and Mississauga, ON,'s Trevor Daley, who was the lone non-BMW inside the top five, riding aboard his OneSpeed Chop Shop Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
The top rookie in the class was once again Lasalle, QC,'s Samuel Desmarais in eleventh, who now holds a reasonably comfortable lead in the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year race heading into the next round at his home track in St. Eustache, QC.
Fans were treated to another exciting race in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, as last year's championship runner-up Mitch Card won from pole aboard his Fast Company Yamaha YZF-R6. The Ripley, ON, rider was involved in a hectic battle with defending champion Tomas Casas and a pair of young local riders in David MacKay (Hamilton, ON) and Will Hornblower (Sarnia, ON) for nearly the entirety of the race.
MacKay, who took his first-ever CSBK podium at the season opener in Shannonville, seemed poised to follow that up with his first career victory as he led for a number of laps, but suffered a heartbreaking crash in turn one toward the end of the race. As for Hornblower, the Yamaha rider was battling tire wear toward the end of the race and eventually succumbed to local youngster Dylan Bauer (Breslau, ON), who secured his first-ever National podium in third behind Card and the Parts Canada sponsored Yamaha of Casas in what was an all-Yamaha top-four.
"I got a solid start, but the first two laps were pretty greasy," Card said. "It was unfortunate to see David crash, but after that, I just kept my head down and put it on the top of the box."
The brand-new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class featured a familiar face up front, as Blackstock, ON, teenager Jake LeClair took his fourth consecutive win to open the season as he continues to build a sizable points lead aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3.
Local rider Mike Grass (Pamerston, ON) won an incident-filled Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike race, outlasting a number of temporary race leaders as he took the victory aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600.
As for the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, it was another breakout performance for 15-year-old phenom Nicolas Meunier out of Verdun, QC, who took his first victory of the season and second consecutive podium as he bolsters his bid for the title heading into round three at his home track.
That event will take place in roughly two weeks, from June 29 to July 1, at the Autodrome St. Eustache just west of Montreal, QC.
Information regarding the third round and full results from the second round at the Grand Bend Motorplex can be found on the series' official website at www.csbk.ca.