Royal Distributing’s Michael Leon had another strong weekend, with 5th and 6th place finishes in the final two races of the season at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He rode the Kyle Blakely tuned, Royal Distributing / BMW Motorrad Canada / Pro 6 Cycle S1000RR. As a result, Leon completes the season in 4th place overall in the final point standings of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship. This is a career best result for the Beaconsfield, Quebec rider.
Michael took advantage of the Pro 6 Cycle track day on the Wednesday before the race weekend to get in some extra laps at the series’ fastest race track, CTMP. By the time qualifying began on Friday afternoon, he was up to speed and already lapping faster than he had during last year’s races at CTMP. During the first part of qualifying, Michael was 7th fastest with a time of 1:22.2, good enough to transfer into the Top 10 Superpole session.
A special Dunlop Qualifying rear tire was available to each of the 10 competitors. This super-soft tire offers extra grip, but only for 1, sometimes 2 laps before performance starts to fall off dramatically. Michael was not able to adapt quickly enough to the extra grip and qualified 10th. “I was pretty bummed. I actually went slower on the Q tire. It was very different, there is so much grip that it pushes the front tire a little and even feels strange slowing down into the corners, like there is extra engine braking. If I had another shot at it, I think that I could do a much better job. It was a cool experience and I’d like to thank Dunlop and Pro 6 for making it happen for us. A pep-talk from Jon Cornwell helped me get my head straight, get over the disappointment of screwing up with the Q and move forward with the weekend.” commented Michael.
Round 6, on Saturday afternoon, was an action filled race. Michael launched the BMW from the 3rd row, with a decent start, and ended the first lap in 9th position. After a few laps, the lead group had pulled a gap of a few seconds, Michael found himself in a battle with Yamaha mounted Trevor Daley and BMW rider Chris Murray-Audain. During the opening laps, Michael turned his fastest lap ever at Mosport, a 1:21.8 seconds; one of the highlights of the weekend for the team. Unfortunately, Chris crashed out in corner 2, on lap 5, leaving Trevor and Michael to hash it out the rest of the race. In the closing laps, Michael had a few close calls and gave up the challenge, settling for 5th place. “I had a fun race going with Trevor. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pull a gap on him, due to the draft, so I just settled in, waiting for the last lap to try to make a pass stick. We were pulling away from the group behind us and clicking off 1:22’s like it was a track day. Then I started to have issues with the front tire. I was using all the travel in a few corners and overriding the front a little. I lost confidence and just brought it home. Trevor was only 10 points behind me in the championship and it allowed him to make up 3 points on me, so Sunday’s race was going to be pretty important to maintain 4th in the Championship” explained Michael.
Saturday evening Kyle worked with suspension specialist, Jon Cornwell, to make some improvements. They used the data from the BMW Datalogger to see exactly what was happening during the race and were able to make some changes to the front fork setup.
As it turned out, Sunday’s race was also eventful. But in a different way. After a successful start, the riders only made it one lap before the dreaded red flag was brought out due to a crash in corner 3. The race was restarted and Michael was able to use the draft to work his way forward to 6th place, passing former Diablo teammate Jeff Williams and then Trevor Daley in the process. Once again, the battle resumed with Daley as he was able push Michael back to 7th. Another red flag came out, due to an incident on the high speed straight. Fortunately, the riders’ injuries were much less serious than they could have been. However, medical transport of the rider to the hospital left the track with fewer ambulances. This caused a long delay while a replacement ambulance was en route to the track.
After a long wait, the race was re-started, but this time the grid was formed from the running order one lap before the incident. This meant Michael would start from row 2, in 6th spot. He made a great start to the shortened 8 lap race to cross the line on the first lap in 5th. Matt McBride came by on the next lap, moving Michael to 6th. Fortunately, Michael was able to latch on to McBride and his battle for third place with Riedmann and Young. On the final 2 laps, Michael began to lose touch with the battle in front and settled for 6th place. “Starting that last time on the second row was key. I knew that I had to use the tow from the front runners to break away from Daley. 6th place is my worst finish of the year but is still felt pretty good to turn some fast laps here at CTMP and run closer to the front. It was a great weekend and an amazing season. I’d like to thank Kyle for his hard work all year dialing in the S1000RR. And I can’t forget Corndog, for all the setup advice and also the help with race strategy,” commented Michael.
The racing season isn’t over for the Royal Distributing Team. There is one final regional event at Shannonville with the RACE Superseries, Sept 23-25th. Michael leads the Pro Superbike points heading into the event which will be a double header to make up for the first round that was canceled due to weather conditions. Come out to see some racing action!
The Royal Distributing Racing Team would like to thank Royal Distributing, BMW Motorrad Canada, Pro 6 Cycle Dunlop, Shoei Helmets, Speed & Strength, Hindle Exhaust, Gianmajor Inc., Armour Bodies, MWR Airfilters, Vortex Racing Sprockets, Windmill Motorsports, Bickle Racing and Dave Smith.
From a press release