Although the “Key Takeaways” feature is usually reserved for post-National round review during the summer season, the arrival of 2017 seems like a good time to take a quick look back at the successful 2016 Mopar CSBK National tour and consider how 2017 might unfold.
With the support of Dalton Timmis Insurance, last year the Mopar CSBK National Superbike Feature class races were broadcast with seven episodes on TSN, The Sports Network. This was a major step for competitors looking to build media exposure, and leverage sponsorship deals through increased National coverage.
The Mopar CSBK series was first broadcast on TSN in 1995, coverage produced by Professional Motorsports Productions, the same group that organize the series, and a wide variety of video coverage, in the current era.
The arrival of new aftermarket partner Motovan allowed for increased support for the second Pro National class, now called Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike. Increases in prize money for competitors combined with next-day on-line video coverage to increase the exposure for the Middleweight, production-based class.
Jordan Szoke enjoyed his third career perfect CSBK season, and his second in a row, with seven wins in seven races in 2016 aboard the Express Lane/Motovan backed BMW S1000RR. Szoke has competed for BMW for the past five seasons, and earned the title four times for the German motor giant: 2012,2013,2015 and last year. Szoke was leading the title chase in 2014 when he injured his hand while riding in a low-speed Trials competition.
At the start of December, Szoke headed to Germany to accept his award for placing first overall in the 2016 BMW Motorrad Race Trophy World Series. 127 BMW racers from 25 different Nations on six continents registered for the Series, racing in 27 different series for 83 different trams.
When BMW launched the first-generation S1000RR in the fall of 2009, designers stated that one of their goals was to make the BMW the go-to production-based racer for National and Club level racers. It didn’t take too long in Canada.
After a strong debut in 2010, BMW earned the Championship with Brett McCormick and a works supported squad in 2011. With McCormick heading to World Superbike, BMW Motorrad Canada focused on supporting a wide range of competitors, making use of race kit parts easily available through the Canadian dealer network.
As well as Szoke earning the overall BMW Trophy World Title, other Canucks also showed well: first year Mopar CSBK racer Ben Young wound up 23rd overall, world-wide, while Royal Distributing’s Michael Leon was classified 30th, just behind British ace Christian Iddon and less than a point ahead of World Superbiker Jordi Torres of Spain.
When the Mopar CSBK series was revamped in 2014, switching to Dunlop spec tires, one of the “unintended consequences” was the full-time arrival of Kenny Riedmann. Previously busy with the MotoAmerica series in the U.S., former snow sport ace Riedmann returned to Canada and has swept the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Middleweight Production class ever since.
Following another Middleweight Championship success in 2016, the Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly backed Riedmann squad plan to concentrate full time on the new Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja in 2017, aiming to end Szoke’s ongoing Superbike win streak.
This means that Riedmann’s ZX-6R Ninja, his successful 636cc mount from last season, will not get to wear the number one plate in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike in 2017. There was some discussion that former Canadian Flat Track Champ and impressive roadrace 2016 rookie Doug Lawrence would join the squad to defend their three season streak, but that arrangement is no longer likely.
So the Riedmann Kawasaki 636 will likely not compete in Middleweight action in 2017.
This leaves the Championship chase wide open, with the next Champ likely to come form the following group: double Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner Mitch Card, SOAR Champ Will Hornblower, 2015 CSBK Co-Brooklin Cycle Pro Rookie of the Year Thomas Casas, fast 2016 Rookie Pro Alex Coelho and the rookie Pro pair Chris Brent (Shoei Amateur Sport Bike Champ) and Jacob Shaw-O’Leary (runner up in Amateur Superbike and Sport Bike National action).
Two-time Canadian Overall National Superbike Champ and number one plate holder Michael Taylor returned to competition in 2016, showing well in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike with his GP Bikes-backed Triumph 675R Daytona. Unfortunately, the always cheerful and still fan-favorite Taylor suffered a major fall in turn two at CTMP during Friday practice, suffering serious injuries.
Since the August Mopar CSBK season Finale, Taylor has received repair to his right side “tib and fib” and is now “walking, almost normally, and I have a limp, but I think that will go away, my big aim is to start skating again!”
Taylor is scheduled for more surgery on January 19, when his torn tendon will finally get attention. The arm received a major reconstruction twenty years ago, and Taylor states that “it is a bit like getting a car from a Hong Kong junkyard and being asked to make a Mercedes out of it.” We think the Hong Kong reference is related to a big crash Taylor suffered at the famous Macau street race in the 1990s.
The two Pats, announcer Gonsalves and former racer turned Auto Dealer Czar Barnes, staged a fund raiser for Taylor in October, helping to defer medical costs. So far, Taylor has not said anything about yet-another return to race action.
Formerly-dominant on the Canadian scene, Suzuki Canada have not had much of a presence on the CSBK tour recently. Only SOAR front runner Scott Rupert, injured on Sunday last August at CTMP, placed a GSX-R1000 in the points during a Mopar CSBK Pro round in 2016.
Not so long ago, the field in both Pro and Amateur categories was full of the well-established GSX-R designs. Riders including Brett McCormick, Pascal Picotte, Francis Martin, Clint McBain, Cody Matechuk, Chris Peris, Matt McBride and Ross Millson all showed well with Suzuki support in the 2000s.
However, there is a potent, all-new GSX-R1000 coming for 2017 (actually two versions), and expectations are high that Suzuki will at least put a toe in the water with Pro race support and Contingency.