Reigning Flat Track Canada Champion Doug Lawrence might have his final race with the coveted red number one plate at the final National of 2016 at Ohsweken, ON., this Saturday night. The Mississauga-based racer, also a three-time winner in the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike division of the Mopar CSBK roadracing National series this year aboard a Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, is a long shot to retain his overall Flat Track Champ status.
“On paper, I can still win the Championship, but in reality, it’s a long shot,” commented 30-year-old Lawrence prior to the Final. “I don’t think there will be enough guys entered for me to wind up with the title, I think if Steve just gets to the grid for the Final, he should be good. After losing the Welland and London rounds, I guess it’s all Mother Nature’s fault!”
The Mother Nature remark refers to the two rained-out Nationals of 2017, unusual given the generally very hot and dry conditions experience over the summer of 2016. The “Steve” in question is Steve Beattie, the un-retired veteran from Petrolia, ON, who seems inches away from the 2017 FTC number one title and red plate.
Beattie currently leads the standings after nine of ten rounds with 180 points. Lawrence is second overall with 159 points, and there are 23 points available for a National win.
Even with the slim title hopes, Lawrence is glad to be racing just outside of Hamilton at Ohsweken, the famed and popular dirt track auto racing venue.
“I’m pretty sure the track will be racy,” confirmed the man they call “Fresh.” “Things were really good at our test, and they did a great job with the surface. It’s a lot like most of the track we race on in the United States, and it’s really good for us to have a track like this on our Schedule.”
For a variety of reasons, good and bad, Lawrence has ridden a wide selection of bikes in Canada during 2016, and for Ohsweken, he plans to compete aboard his own DTX type, stock-framed Honda CRF450.
“The track is big and round, not quite a half mile, and while it might end up working for a big bike, our test there made me think that my Harley wouldn’t be the best choice. In the States, they would put all kinds of Calcium on a track like this, but we don’t do that here in Canada. You might get the twin to turn good, but it would be a gamble to go with the XR.”
Recently, Lawrence competed in the AMA Pro Series at the famed Springfield mile, and earned a solid seventh in the Main Event aboard a Ron Glidden owned, C and J “framer” Kawasaki EX750 twin.
Lawrence competed at the Barrie FTC National on Saturday night, September 3, and then headed to the U.S. via private prop plane. His host for the trip was Flight Instructor Phil Leckie, who just completed his rookie Pro campaign on the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike portion of the Mopar CSBK National roadrace tour.
“It was great to fly in, but things were tight, too close for comfort,” laughs Lawrence of the rushed adventure. “The bike was really good, but I made some bad calls in terms of choices. I have to be happy with seventh, but we should have done better, and I’m already thinking about the Spring round at Springfield next year.”
Meanwhile, Lawrence has certainly paid attention to the efforts of U.S. manufacturer Indian, who are making a big push with their v-twin program to challenge the established American front runners, especially Harley-Davidson.
“You have to think that Indian are doing it right,’ starts the current National Champ from North of the border. “It’s so hard to get a bike sorted out unless you have a track you know, a track that is prepped. It could take forever, years and years.
“They’ve been renting the tracks and testing the day after the Nationals, with people like Joe Kopp, Jared Mees and Brad Baker, the fast guys. That way they can gauge their performance on tracks they know, tracks they were fast on with their regular bikes last night.
“I think they will be competitive starting in 2017. The bikes are built right, and the good teams have their hands on the bikes and are already dialing them in.”