Szoke holds off McBride, will start from pole at SMP opener

Three-time defending champion Jordan Szoke will start from pole position for Sunday's Canadian Superbike Championship opener, after edging longtime rival Matt McBride in the Dalton Timmis Mopar Pro Superbike SuperPole at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Saturday. 

Szoke, riding a Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad Canada sponsored S1000RR, finished the 20-minute pre-SuperPole Qualifying session with a comfortable gap to Collingwood, ON's Ben Young, also aboard a BMW. The 12-time CSBK champ posted a time of 1:05.249 - nearly four tenths of a second faster than Young – before settling in for SuperPole. 

Things were more difficult in the latter showcase, however, as Mississauga, ON's McBride, a frequent frontrunner at the Ontario rounds of the CSBK season, challenged Szoke for the top spot with a time of 1:04.457. Ultimately, that time fell just short, with Szoke posting a flyer of 1:04.412 - only 0.045 seconds faster than McBride. 

"It's a great way to start the season. The conditions are perfect, and the bike feels fantastic, but these guys kept me honest," Szoke said. "It's never easy, Matt [McBride] and Ben [Young] are so fast, so it will be a good race tomorrow. Hopefully we can put on a good show."

McBride, meanwhile, is keeping things positive as he searches for his first career Pro Superbike victory on Sunday. He was also quick to praise the S1000RR, which was the machine of choice for all of the top five finishers in Saturday's event.

"It's been a great weekend so far and the bike's working great," he said. "These BMW's rock, sometimes all you have to do is just twist the wrist."

As for Young, the former British Superbike rider has mixed feelings about his performance, as he, too, searches for his first career victory this weekend.

"We wanted a clean lap at first, but I ended up making some mistakes," he said. "Either way, we're happy to be near the top, so now we're just excited for the race tomorrow."

Rounding out the first row for Sunday's race will be Beaconsfield, QC rider Michael Leon, who finished with a time of 1:05.488 aboard his Royal Distributing Superbike. Samuel Trepanier had a spirited performance in fifth, as the St. Isidore, QC rider rebounded after a huge crash in Friday practice and will start from the front of the second row. 

"When I crashed [yesterday], the bike was at least 10-15 feet in the air," Trepanier said. "It kind of hit my elbow, but I'm glad it didn't land on me. I'm just happy I'm okay to keep racing this weekend."

Trevor Daley, the only rider in the top seven not aboard a BMW, piloted his Kawasaki ZX-10R to sixth, while Inverary, ON's Jeff Williams qualified seventh aboard his S1000RR. Ripley, ON's Mitch Card will represent the top Yamaha YZF-R1 on the grid in eighth, while Kelowna, BC's Marcel Irnie will start from ninth aboard another BMW as he makes his return to CSBK. 

Completing the top ten was reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike champion Tomas Casas, who will start from the third row aboard a Yamaha YZF-R6. The 19-year old from Peterborough, ON was the only rider on a 600cc machine to qualify for the SuperPole session.

The top rookie in the qualifying sessions was Montreal, QC's Vincent Levillain, who will start tomorrow's race from 17th aboard a Yamaha YZF-R6. 

The opening race of the Mopar Pro Superbike Championship is scheduled for 3:00 pm on Sunday, though the full weekend schedule and results can be found at the official series website at www.csbk.ca.