Andrew Nelson ended a four-year absence from front line motorcycle competition with a ninth place finish aboard a brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the opening Mopar CSBK round of 2017 at Shannonville Motorsport Park, ON, last weekend. The 32-year-old Nelson, a winner of the National opener back in 2012, played a significant role at the front of the feature class in the Canadian debut of the new “Gixxer.”
“It’s really nice to be back, and overall we’re happy with our progress, if not the result,” explained Ottawa, ON based Nelson. “We had a very good qualifying, and the last two events have been a good start with an all-new bike we only got three weeks ago.”
Nelson made his official return to competition the previous weekend, May 17-18, for the rain interrupted RACE SuperSeries round at the same Shannonville Pro track layout. At that point the Suzuki was completely stock except for K-Tech suspension components, and the team were happy with their initial shake-down.
“It was nice to get started with the bike, and get the rust off me,” joked Nelson. “The weather was just OK, and we had damp patches in the race, but that really helped me work on my riding. We didn’t have full power yet, so that placed the focus on our cornering.”
Nelson battled for the lead at the Shannonville Regional event, and wound up a solid second behind Bodhi Edie of Warman, SK, aboard a Yamaha.
Four days later Nelson was back at Shannonville for the National kick-off, and again waiting for the rain to end that spoiled Thursday’s Test Day.
Conditions were damp but improving for Friday’s first official Pro Superbike Feature race session, and Nelson ran many laps with his freshly-updated Suzuki on his way to an attention-grabbing second overall.
“We had a really good start, but maybe that made my expectations a little too high,” reflects Nelson. “The Friday afternoon session was interrupted by more rain, and we really could have used that track time. Everyone was really happy for us, things were upbeat.”
In Saturday’s Dalton Timmis Insurance SuperPole session, Nelson made it into the final ten show down, and confirmed the growing potential of the latest GSX-R platform. After a frantic final few minutes, Nelson wound up fifth quickest, just missing a starting spot on the front row,
“I really couldn’t imagine a better start, I set my fastest-ever lap at Shannonville, and that was a huge accomplishment with a new bike,” relates Nelson. “We didn’t change too much with the bike, we just made it stiffer as I got comfortable and rode it harder and harder. To be just .4 of a second off the pole pace was a really encouraging sign for our program.”
For Sunday, the team worked on their possible Dunlop slick tire options, and Nelson was “excited to get started, and remember what it feels like. Then we got into turn one, and I saw how aggressive everyone was ready to ride in the first round, and I had forgotten what that feels like!
“That really was a shock, and the race just didn’t go the way we hoped. I couldn’t really maintain any pace, right from the start, but we will be stronger at the start of the race next weekend.”
“It was disappointing to place ninth, but a top ten result without any big incidents was good for our first weekend back at the Nationals. We have a good idea of what we need to do to be ready for the next round at Grand Bend Motorplex June 9-11.”
Nelson’s 2017 program is backed by Kimpex.com, Racer5, K-Tech, Ipone and Suzuki Canada. Nelson would also like to thank his dedicated family and friends, and especially Jeff Caya and father Richard for their support at the venue.
From a press release