Thirteen-time National champion Jordan Szoke is on the brink of adding another title to his resumé after another weekend sweep at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, winning both races in the Pro Superbike class to take a commanding lead after two rounds of the Canadian Superbike Championship, presented by Pro6 Cycle.
Szoke saved one of the best performances of his career for race one, coming all the way back to win after deciding to switch bikes on the warmup lap, relegating himself to the back of the grid as the Lynden, ON veteran was forced to start from pit lane aboard his Canada General Warranty Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
After capturing pole position on Saturday, Szoke made the last-second decision to choose his “B bike,” which was mounted with a soft rear tire and a front rain tire to counter the tricky conditions on a drying track.
As Szoke carved his way through the grid, rival Kenny Riedmann extended a large lead early on, appearing to be well on his way towards a third victory at CTMP in the last three years as a “wildcard” entry as he filled in for Trevor Daley aboard his M4 Suzuki Canada GSX-R1000RR.
However, that lead came to a sudden halt with five laps to go, as rookie Samuel Guerin grabbed the lead for the first time in his Pro career aboard EFC Group BMW S1000RR as he aimed to be the first rookie to win since Szoke in 1998.
Guerin’s lead was much shorter-lived than Riedmann’s, however, as a hard-charging Szoke overtook the Quebec City, QC native before holding off a last-lap pass attempt to clinch his third consecutive victory to begin 2020 in stunning fashion.
“I’ve never started from pit lane before, but nothing ever really surprises me here,” Szoke laughed. “I had two bikes with completely different setups, and after the warmup lap I just decided to hop on the rain bike, and I knew almost right away that if I kept my head down I could catch whoever was in front of me.”
Guerin would settle for his first career podium in second, joining Szoke and reigning champion Ben Young as the only riders in Pro Superbike history to podium within their first three races.
“It is such an honour to share the podium with these legends, my heart was beating like crazy,” Guerin said. “I didn’t expect to lead, so I really had to keep myself calm. I thought maybe I could pull something off at the end, but my goal was to podium and I’ve done that, so now my next goal is to win.”
Riedmann would ultimately hold onto third, securing a podium finish in his first entry of the 2020 season despite riding his Suzuki machine for the first time on Saturday.
“The bike is amazing, I’ve never been that quick that fast on a new bike before,” Riedmann said. “I wasn’t too worried riding in the rain, but I took a gamble on the rain tires. I was kind of bummed because these conditions would have suited Trevor really well, but we held onto it and it feels great to be back up here.”
Szoke wasn’t the only rider to charge his way to the front, as veteran Michael Leon overcame a brutal start to mount a comeback of his own en route to a fourth-place finish aboard his Royal Distributing BMW.
Leon came out on top of a late-race battle with Guyanese youngster Elliott Vieira, who scored a then-career-best finish in the Pro Superbike category in fifth aboard a lesser-powered Yamaha YZF-R6 sport bike machine.
Things were much different in race two, as the four front-row starters engaged in a thrilling battle from the drop of the lights, shuffling positions on virtually every lap up until the halfway point as Leon took an early lead before settling into third.
As Szoke and Riedmann renewed their rivalry up front and Leon chased close behind, Guerin settled into a distant fourth, seemingly ending his shot at a double-podium on the weekend. Instead, a Leon crash with four laps to go brought out a red flag to end the race, handing Szoke his fourth consecutive win ahead of his same two podium-mates from race one.
The decision gives Szoke a commanding 71-point lead through two weekends, with future racing still in question as rookie Samuel Guerin leads the fight for second in the championship ahead of Sebastian Tremblay and Ernest Bernhard.
Vieira continued to turn heads aboard his sport bike machine by one-upping his previous career high in fourth, while Bernhard took a personal best of his own to round out the top five aboard his Yamaha YZF-R1.
Hometown teenager Matthew Simpson scored his first ever National victory in race two of the AIM Insurance Amateur Lightweight class, coming out on top of a thrilling four-way battle for the lead aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3 after a number of last-lap passes at the front.
Simpson managed to make the decisive move over Jacob Black in the penultimate corner, with Black then falling to third in the final corner after another remarkable pass from round one runner-up Mike Maguire.
Black managed to hang on for his first career podium behind Maguire, while round one winner Mackenzie Weil settled for fourth to cap off a run of three Kawasaki Ninja 400’s inside the top-four.
Pole-sitter Jordan Royds and rival Alex Cleary each claimed their first career National victories in the MotorcycleCourse.com Amateur Superbike class, splitting the two races as Royds captured race one before Cleary reversed the outcome in race two.
Royds overcame a poor start in changing conditions to edge Cleary early in the day aboard his IBEW Yamaha YZF-R1, before the St. Jerome, QC native made up for it with a victory of his own aboard his Turcotte Performance Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Joining Royds and Cleary on the podium in race one was Sarah-Michelle Cotton, who excelled in the wet weather to become the first female podium finisher in any of the National classes since 2014 aboard her Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja, while Anthony Bergeron completed the podium in race two aboard his BMW S1000RR.
The series remains optimistic of more racing to end the 2020 season, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks as CSBK officials continue to address their plans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full results from Sunday’s action can be found on the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.