Szoke Finishes 2nd in the Canadian Superbike Championship
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park hosted the season finale of the Mopar® Canadian Superbike Championship this past weekend. One of the most anticipated series events held at the majestic “Mosport”, the grounds were bustling with fans lining the 3.9km 10-turn circuit.
Szoke had a busy two weeks leading up to the season finale after destroying his A bike at the previous round held at Atlantic Motorsports Park. A DNF (did not finish) massively hurt Szoke’s championship campaign as he trailed series rival Ben Young by 59 points leading into the event. With racing on Saturday and Sunday, Szoke needed to score maximum points to even have a hope of clinching the title for the 14th time.
Qualifying was to be held on Friday, but neither Mother Nature nor the track surface was cooperating. A slippery surface created by intermittent rains and poor track clean up ended the day early with limited track time for the entire paddock and inconsistent results. A decision was made to move qualifying to early Saturday morning for the Pro Superbike top 10 to run the super soft and sticky “Q” Dunlop rear. Halfway through the session serie leader Ben Young had a scary fall at the top of turn two and the session was called, with Szoke sitting 4th on the front row.
Saturday’s race was a wild one with the top 10 riders separated by just over a second preparing for the 20 lap-race. With the race entering the final stages, Szoke caught the double draft off of rivals Samuel Trepanier and Kenny Reidmann. The two leaders opted to run outside and Szoke chose the inside coming together with the lapper, causing him to fall, missing Trepanier but taking out Reidmann on the outside of turn 8. Szoke would eventually settle for second place and passed along the Canada Cup to Ben Young for the 2019 season. “After switching back to Kawasaki this year, it’s been tough. Not because of the bike – it’s been great – but it’s been an adjustment, and I’ve made a few mistakes that I usually never make,” Szoke said. “Ben hasn’t placed a foot wrong all year, even after that crash this morning, so I knew the focus was going to be on next year. Obviously, hats off to him and Sam, and they’ve earned every bit of this. I hope the lapped rider and Kenny are OK. It wasn’t my intention to have any of them go down obviously. I’ve loaned the Reidmann pits some parts to get their motorcycle back in shape for tomorrow so I hope it helps.”
Sundays race had nothing on the line for most of the field and it was a thrilling race from start to finish. CTMP has the long Andretti back straight-away and drafting is crucial to race strategy. Rounding the final corner race leader Samuel Trepanier drifted wide with Kenny Reidmann colliding into him before the start finish line it was a drag race to the finish. Szoke had thought he had taken the win as official timing showed just 0.031 seconds separating the top three. Szoke came up in third place.
Official protests were filed with CSBK by two competitors following the controversial finish, though the protest was rejected by Race Director Colin Fraser with the results finalized post-race. These results are still subject to appeal, pending the tribunal of the Motorcycle Confederation of Canada.
Watch for Szoke in the 40th anniversary of Canadian Superbike National Racing in 2020, returning with a vengeance for his second season on his Mopar Express Lane Blackfoot Motosport Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R livery.
“I’ve got a full season under my belt now with these Kawasakis. We have gained momentum going into 2020. Rest assured I won’t be complacent. My goal is to win a Superbike Championship in four decades, I don’t think anyone can obtain that one. It’s lofty, but something we can definitely accomplish.”