The shift to Quebec did little to slow down Jordan Szoke on Friday, as the three-time defending Mopar Pro Superbike winner set the fastest time in both practice sessions to kick off round three of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship.
Coming off consecutive wins at Shannonville Motorsport Park and the Grand Bend Motorplex to begin the 2018 National season, Szoke continued his early success by piloting his Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR to a time of 45.455 in the morning practice at the Autodrome St-Eustache, before regressing slightly to a time of 45.580 in the afternoon.
The 12-time champion was followed in both sessions by his two main rivals in Collingwood, ON's Ben Young and St. Isidore, QC's Samuel Trepanier, setting up what should be another thrilling showdown heading into the weekend. Young, riding a Scot-Build BMW, was a comfortable 0.481 seconds off Szoke in the morning, before putting some pressure on the Lynden, ON native by trimming the gap to 0.226 later in the day.
These were Young’s best-ever laps of St-Eustache in his third season in the Feature class.
Trepanier, meanwhile, will have work to do on Saturday after finishing 1.494 seconds off the pace in the morning, though he did improve to a 1.062 second deficit in the afternoon. The Blysk Racing BMW rider is the fan favorite in his home province, where he will look to score his first career Pro victory on Sunday.
Behind the front-running trio, it was Mississauga, ON's Trevor Daley who finished fourth in the morning aboard his OneSpeed Chop Shop Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, while Beaconsfield, QC's Michael Leon rounded out the top five piloting a Royal Distributing sponsored BMW. Leon improved to fourth in the afternoon, while Peterborough, ON youngster Tomas Casas ended the day in fifth, piloting a Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 Sport Bike (middleweight) entry.
Casas was able to keep up that momentum in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class, where the 19-year old defending champion topped both sessions ahead of a pair of experienced hometown riders. His time of 48.041 in the morning was just over half a second faster than 2015 race winner for Honda Louie Raffa (St-Marthe, QC), while his afternoon time of 47.698 was just under half a second better than Mirabel, QC's Sebastian Tremblay, aboard a Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.
The biggest surprise of the day may have been the emergence of local rider Alex Berthiaume (Laval, QC) in the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class, who was fastest in both sessions aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3. Blackstock, ON teenager Jake LeClair – who has won all four races this season in dominant fashion – was second in both practices aboard another Yamaha.
Local riders also played a big part in the results of the two other Amateur classes, as each practice in the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class featured an all-Quebec top-six. St. Jerome's Alexandre Cleary (Suz) was fastest in the morning ahead of Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu's Christian Allard (Kaw), while Laval's Pascal Bastien (Yam) topped the afternoon practice ahead of Mirabel's Luc LaBranche (Yam).
It was a similar theme in the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, with Allard edging LaBranche in the morning before the two traded places later in the day. The top eight riders in the first session were all Quebec natives, while the province was represented by the top five in the afternoon.
Round three action from Autodrome St-Eustache is slated to resume on Saturday with five qualifying sessions and one race, while the featured Dalton Timmis Insurance Pro Superbike SuperPole is scheduled to get underway at 3:30 pm.
Full results, including the full weekend's schedule, can be found on the series' official website at www.csbk.ca.