Jordan Szoke rode his Mopar Express Lane/Motovan BMW S1000RR to an emphatic win in Sunday’s fifth Feature race of the Mopar CSBK Canadian Superbike Championship, presented by Honda Canada, at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie, NS.
Top qualifier Szoke (Lynden, ON) was challenged at the start of the scheduled 22-lap feature by eventual runner-up Kenny Riedmann (Belfountain, ON), but he passed the Kawasaki rider before turn 2 and started building a gap to the rest of the field. The defending Canadian Superbike champion was ahead by 10.55 seconds on the 17th lap when a two-rider crash resulted in a red flag, stopping the race and making the results official. It was Szoke’s fourth victory of the 2017 season.
"I was spent. I'm not gonna lie," said a visibly fatigued Szoke during the podium presentation. "It's the most physically demanding track we go to in North America, for sure. You're white-knuckling it the whole time... it might look easy, but it's definitely not.”
Szoke set the fastest lap in every practice, qualifying and race session during the weekend, including a fast lap at 1:07.769 in Sunday’s Feature race.
"We don't stop working," Szoke noted about his dedicated crew. "We keep pushing forward; we'll look at this race and go forward from here. That's what you've got to do—these guys behind us are pushing hard, and we've got to stay on our game. Now we have to win a Championship."
Riedmann and his Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR looked strong in the opening laps, but couldn't keep pace with Szoke in the long run and settled for second. "I felt a lot more comfortable at the end of the race," said Riedmann, commenting that a new fuel map and shock setting smoothed the bike out for Sunday's race.
"I knew Ben (Young) was fast, because he reeled me in a bit, and I was gearing up for a big battle with him in the last few laps, but unfortunately there was a red flag. I hope everyone that went down is okay.
"Jordan rode a great race. I tried to stick with him a little bit, but I made some mistakes and though I'd just settle into my pace and run a great race to get on the podium."
Young closed the gap to Riedmann in the final laps on his Scot-Build Developments BMW, but was relegated to third because of the red flag. "We tossed away the 'A' bike this morning, and unfortunately it hit the wall and was too bad to recover for the race," said Young, who also finished third on Saturday. "It was unfortunate the red flag came out, because I caught Kenny and I didn't want to show him what I had. I wanted to save it for the end, because I knew he would come right back. Unfortunately it ended the way it did.
"We're trying to make steps forward, but considering the weekend we had and the year we've had so far, we're happy to be here," Young concluded.
Superbike veteran Michael Leon put in a valiant effort on his Royal Distributing BMW, just 0.371-seconds shy of a podium spot in fourth. Fellow Quebec native and second-year Pro Samuel Trepanier (St-Isidore, QC) followed yesterday's fourth-place finish with a strong fifth in Sunday's race on his Blysk Racing BMW.
Sunday's Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike race featured a race-long scrap for the lead between Yamaha R6 young gun racers Tomas Casas (Peterborough, ON) and Mitch Card (Ripley, ON). Card led early in the race, but Casas overtook after a few laps and led to the half way mark when Card put his R6 back in front. Tomas then made a bold move with four laps to go and held off an ambitious Card in the final moments to take the checkers and the win by 0.025 seconds.
"Right from the start, going into turn 1 we were both trying to see who would hold onto the gas longer," said Casas after his third win of the year. "I really hope the crowd enjoyed it, because it was back-and-forth; I was losing a bit of pace at the end, struggling in the back (area) of the track, and I knew Mitch was going to come back on the final straight. It was a close race, but man oh man, was it fun."
Card, the 2014 CSBK Amateur Superbike and Sport Bike champion, redeemed himself after crashing out of the opening race of the weekend on Saturday. "It was a wicked race," he said from the podium. "We had a crazy start, we were side-by-side all the way down turn 1 into 2. We tried everything we had up our sleeves to come out on top. We were passing each other in corners that you can't even pass in. I can't wait to see the television coverage."
Online video coverage of the full Casas/Card fight in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike will be available online on Monday, July 17.
Rookie Pro Jacob Shaw-O'Leary (Falmouth, NS) scored a podium for the home crowd by finishing third in Pro Sport Bike after a poor start that put him near the back of the pack. The Pro Cycle Honda CBR600RR rider worked his way through the pack to earn his first Pro podium.
"It was a lot of fun out there," said the 2014 CSBK Honda CBR250R National Series champion. "I can't thank O'Leary Brothers Racing enough for putting this awesome Honda under me. It's awesome to be up here; I wish I would have had a better start, I had the pace to be up front, but unfortunately I didn't have the start to be up front."
An Amateur-class sweep was achieved by Kawasaki ZX-6R rider Samuel Desmarais (Lasalle, QC), who won handily in Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike to take the points lead going into the final round of the season. He backed that up with his third win of the season in Shoei Helmets Amateur Sport Bike, closing the gap to leader Jean-Francois Aubin (St-Jerome, QC), who finished second in both classes at AMP.
Sunday’s Kawasaki Ninja 300 race was highlighted by a drag race to the finish line for the second time this weekend, with Jared Walker (Oakville, ON) besting Xavier Paradis (Shannon, QC) by 0.123 seconds at the line to go 2 for 2 in the Kawasaki spec class.
The series heads to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, ON for the popular season finale double header on the weekend of August 18-20.