A busy Saturday at the Motorcycle Show-Toronto at the Enercare Centre on the CNE Grounds included the stars of the Mopar CSBK Superbike road racing tour visiting with motorcyclists at the Show. Most of the top guns from the Nationals, with the exception of away-on-business Samuel Trepanier, were interviewed by Series announcer Frank Wood and signed autographs for supporters.
Jordan Szoke of Lynden, ON, was sporting Kawasaki Ninja clothing for the first time, recognizing his switch to the “mean green” for the next two CSBK seasons. With six titles in seven seasons for previous employer BMW, Szoke switch has been a major curiosity during the off-season.
“We’re pretty busy with the new ZX-10R bikes, we just got them, so it has been fun digging in and getting started,” confirmed 13 title number one Szoke, backed as usual by Mopar Express Lanes. “I think this switch will be pretty straight forward, I’m confident with the Kawasaki equipment, and I have lots of experience on the Ninjas from years past.”
For Royal Distributing BMW Motorrad racer Michael Leon of Montreal, QC, the winter “seems to last forever, and I am definitely ready to get back on my Superbike! I wish the first race was tomorrow! Every year, I ask myself at the end of the race season if I am ready to change my program, but so far every winter I want to get back out racing.”
When asked by Announcer Wood about his favorite era competing in the National series, Leon considered his time on the Harley-Davidson power Buell twin in the Thunder class to be “much better than I expected going in, but if I had a choice, I would have got myself onto a BMW in Superbike much sooner.”
Runner-up in the Mopar CSBK points standings in 2018, Ben Young of Collingwood, ON, explained to the fans that “every year we aim to improve the program, and our win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Team of the Year Award goes a long way to keeping spirits up during the winter. We have basically the same program with the same strong staffing for 2019, and we aim to make another step forward.”
Peterborough’s Tomas Casas won his second straight Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike title for middleweight machines in 2018, riding for Yamaha Motor Canada. This season, “T.V. Tommy “ is planning to return Sport Bike gunning for a third straight title, and also add a new Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike to join the Feature class.
“It will be a real learning curve, that is for sure,” smiled Casas. “We know the 600 so well, and we aim to find that level of familiarity with the 1000cc R1. Our initial running at Shannonville Motorsport Park (scene for the opening 2019 National, on Victoria Day weekend) went well, and I have a basic understanding, and now I have to just be patient, and work towards the front with the rest of these fast guys. “
One of the big off-season stories has been the progress of popular former privateer Trevor Daley, who mounted a last minute effort on a Kawasaki in 2018 and wound up fourth overall in points. This season, Daley is supplied by Suzuki Canada, and Parts Canada will back his GSX-R1000 built by famed tuner Scott Miller.
One of Daley’s “Gixxers” was in the CSBK booth at the Toronto show, drawing lots of attention to a racer completed moments prior to Show opening!
“It has been hectic,” deadpanned the nattily-attired Daley, regarding the massive effort required to get a brand new race bike to the display in the middle of winter. “It has been great seeing everything come together, and you can’t help but be happy when you see all the work, mostly-compete, and get the response from the people at the show.
“I’ve been fortunate to get some help from some great people, and we are all really eager to get on the track and see what our new Suzukis can do. The ingredients are there for a strong season with the Suzuki Superbike in 2019.”
The Motorcycle Show-Toronto will wind up Sunday afternoon, February 17, with the CSBK display then moving to the Liqui Moly booth at the Montreal Motorcycle Show next weekend.