Two-time defending Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike champion Tomas Casas will be leaving round one of the 2019 Mopar CSBK season in unfamiliar territory, as the Parts Canada Yamaha team enjoyed mixed results at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
The Peterborough, ON phenom got off to a solid start in the Sport Bike category as he looks to defend his number one plate, qualifying on pole position on Saturday aboard his YZF-R6 machine with a time over two-tenths of a second faster than the rest of the field.
Despite the early success, the team had been battling a mechanical problem they discovered at the RACE regional event earlier in May. The issue was reduced, but Casas’ acceleration throughout the weekend was still far from ideal.
As a result, the team will search to fully resolve the issue ahead of round two, perhaps swapping to an engine much like the one used in the season final last year.
Fighting through the issue in Sunday’s race, Casas got off to a good start and led the Sport Bike grid through the opening lap at SMP. The Yamaha rider was then overtaken by rival Sebastien Tremblay and the two put on a thrilling battle during most of the 18-lap race.
However, with two laps to go and Tremblay leading, an unfortunate incident involving the two front-runners saw Casas’ race come to an end, leaving the defending champion with his first non-podium since round five of 2016 and his first DNF since round three of that same year.
The tough result will leave Casas with an early deficit in the standings, but the team remains optimistic that a third consecutive championship is still on the way this season.
“I’m very bummed with the way the Sport Bike race finished. It’s certainly not the way I wanted things to end for both Sebastian and I,” Casas said. “I’ll learn from the experience, and now look forward to Grand Bend and getting back in the groove of things to gain valuable points.”
Despite the heartbreak in the Sport Bike category, it was a career-best day in the Mopar Pro Superbike feature class, with Casas scoring his best ever finish in fourth place in just his first ever race aboard the YZF-R1 superbike.
After qualifying in seventh with a time of 1:05.916 - just under a second off pole position - Casas got a terrific start and ran right behind the lead pack of race winner Ben Young, Kenny Riedmann, and defending National champion Jordan Szoke on lap one.
After staying with the leaders for the better part of three laps, Casas ultimately settled into his own pace and survived a battle with veteran Jeff Williams, setting a personal best lap of the weekend at 1:05.850 en route to his fourth-place result.
Prior to the 2019 opener, Casas’ best finish in the premier class was seventh place in round four last season, when he finished eighth in the overall standings aboard his R6.
Now on an R1 machine, Casas is confident he can keep up his pace and aim for a career year in the Superbike class.
“Finishing in 4th place in my first Superbike race was better than I had hoped, to be honest. I was very nervous coming into the weekend having no seat time, but I got comfortable right off the bat,” Casas said. “There is lots to be learned and I am so excited for the progress we will make moving forward.’”
With six more races to go in each class, it remains a long season for Casas and the Parts Canada Yamaha team, but many around the paddock have optimism it will be a year to remember for the fan-favourite.
The team will now get a three-week layoff before heading to the Grand Bend Motorplex in round two on June 7-9, where Casas finished second in Sport Bike and eighth in Superbike a year ago.
Tomas and the team would like to thank all sponsors for making this all happen, including Yamaha Motor Canada, Parts Canada, Pro 6 Cycle & Dunlop Tires, Hindle Exhaust, Brooklin Cycle Racing, GBRacing, J.J. Stewart Motors Ltd., Flexiglass, Bickle Racing, Blue Streak Racing, DP Brakes, Human 2.0, EHR Sports, Vortex, Peterborough Cycle Salvage, Trackdayhub.com and all other personnel and fans for their love and support.
Tomas would also like to personally thank his team members, Franklin Dominguez, Jason Williams, the advice and guidance of Jon Cornwell, Scott Cartier from Hindle Exhaust for the initial prep-up of the R1, and his dad, Julio.
You can keep up with Tomas Casas’ 2019 journey on his social media platforms:
Instagram & Twitter: @tomas_casas18
Facebook: Tomas Casas Racing
From a press release