Three-time defending Mopar Pro Superbike champion Jordan Szoke will continue his quest for a record 13th title this weekend, as the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship heads to Autodrome St-Eustache for round three, June 29 - July 1.
Szoke, piloting a Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR, has won both races so far in the 2018 campaign and seven in a row dating back to last season, but is coming off one of his toughest challenges yet after a thrilling battle with Collingwood, ON's Ben Young in round two.
Young, riding a Scot-Build BMW of his own, appeared to be the favourite to win Grand Bend after starting from pole position and leading the final lap, but ultimately fell victim to a second-last corner pass from the reigning champ. Young sits second in the championship standings to Szoke and will once again look for his first career Pro Superbike victory in round three.
The two will likely be joined by another BMW up front, however, in Blysk Racing's Samuel Trepanier, who is a fan favourite entering his home province of Quebec. The St. Isidore native finished third in round two at the Grand Bend Motorplex and holds on to the same spot in the standings, as he will look to leapfrog Young and Szoke for the top spot at his home track.
The top three of Szoke, Young, and Trepanier have ran nearly in unison since last season's finale at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and that's likely to remain the same entering "la belle province," though the track has been known to produce surprising results in years past.
Among those capable of disrupting the top three are Mississauga, ON's Trevor Daley and Inverary, ON's Jeff Williams, with Daley sitting fourth overall aboard his OneSpeed Chop Shop Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja and Williams possessing fifth aboard another BMW. However, a dark horse could be Beaconsfield, QC's Michael Leon, who led Szoke for a number of laps at St-Eustache in 2015 aboard his Royal Distributing BMW before crashing out.
The Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year fight could come down to a pair of Quebec-born riders in Lasalle's Samuel Desmarais (Kaw) and Saint-Jerome's Jean-Francois Aubin (Suz), as Desmarais takes an eight-point advantage into this weekend's action.
It will also be a pivotal race in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, as 19-year old defending champion Tomas Casas (Peterborough, ON) enters round three leading the overall standings by just a single point over Ripley, ON's Mitch Card. The Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 rider won in St-Eustache last season while the Fast Company Yamaha of Card finished third.
Behind the two front-runners, it will be an important weekend for Sarnia, ON's Will Hornblower and Hamilton, ON's David MacKay as they each need a strong result to stay in the title fight. The Yamaha of Hornblower sits third in the standings after a pair of solid results, while MacKay and his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja sit seventh after crashing out of the lead in round two.
Another name to look out for - especially if the weather changes - could be local veteran Louie Raffa (St-Marthe, QC), who sits fourth in the overall standings but took an emotional victory in a wet race at St-Eustache three years ago.
Meanwhile, teenage sensation Jake LeClair will also look to continue his dominance in the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class, as the Blackstock, ON youngster has won all four races so far aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3.
Perhaps the closest battles to watch will be in the other two Amateur divisions, with plenty still to be decided in each. In the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class, the top four are all separated by less than 20 points, with Ajax, ON's Michael Van Ek leading the way by just four points over Mirabel, QC's Luc LaBranche.
LaBranche, meanwhile, finds himself in the opposite situation in the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, as he leads the championship by just four points over 15-year old phenom Nicolas Meunier (Verdun, QC).
The Autodrome St-Eustache opened in 1965 and is among the smallest tracks on the CSBK calendar at 1.93 km and ten turns. The historic Quebec track set to close following the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, making this year's event the second-last CSBK National at the circuit.
Track info, the weekend schedule, race results, and more can be found on the series' official website at www.csbk.ca.