Tomas Casas and the Parts Canada Yamaha team will exit the 2019 season with a mixed bag of emotions following the Mopar CSBK season ending doubleheader weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, falling just short in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class but securing a terrific spot in the Mopar Pro Superbike overall standings.
Casas entered arguably his strongest track with a tough task ahead of him in the Sport Bike category, trailing by 34 points to friend and Yamaha rival Will Hornblower as he chased his third consecutive title in the category, but was holding out hope after winning both races at CTMP a year ago.
The 20-year old fan-favourite got off to a solid start, outpacing Hornblower in limited track time early in the weekend with the 29-rider field only getting in a few good laps as they battled track conditions and changing weather in Friday practice.
Finally given a clean track for Saturday morning qualifying, Casas was a part of one of the most entertaining final minutes in qualifying history, as pole position changed five times between three riders in the final 90 seconds. The final change would ultimately go to rival Sebastien Tremblay, however, with Casas qualifying second ahead of Hornblower and fellow youngster David MacKay on the front row.
That front-running group of four would continue their battle for nearly the entirety of Saturday’s race one, with the two Yamaha riders and Tremblay eventually breaking free in the final few laps. Casas had entered the final lap in position to potentially score a crucial victory, but found himself third off the long back straight with only a pair of turns left and Tremblay beginning to break free.
Casas seemed to at least salvage, passing Hornblower on the final turn to move into second, but the points leader got the better drive and was able to edge him by just 0.002 seconds at the finish line in a thrilling battle.
As a result, Hornblower extended his points lead to 38 points entering Sunday, and needed only to finish 12th or higher to secure his first National championship. Casas remained positive, but a battle between the three once again had the writing on the wall for majority of the final race.
Ultimately, Tremblay won his second race of the weekend with Casas close behind in second, but it wasn’t enough as Hornblower finished third to claim the title by 33 points over his Yamaha counterpart.
While Hornblower’s consistency played a big part in his 2019 championship, finishing top-two in all but one race and being the only rider in every National class to podium in every event, Casas actually outscored every other rider in the class from rounds two to five, a strong indication that he will be back to fight for the number one plate in 2020.
“It was a tough year running both programs, but we fought until the end. Unfortunately crashing out in a championship with only 7 rounds set-us behind enough in points and it cost us the championship,” Casas said. “A big congratulations goes out to Will on his championship, he rode really smart all year and it payed off for him.”
Despite the tough end to the year in the Sport Bike category, it was another strong weekend in the Pro Superbike feature class, and one that cemented a stellar overall finish in the Superbike standings.
Making his first trip to CTMP aboard the YZF-R1 Superbike, Casas used the extra horsepower to his advantage early on, placing himself into the SuperPole session despite tough track conditions. From there, the Yamaha rider was able to qualify seventh on Saturday morning despite a new pair of highly touted entries ahead of him in former race winners Kenny Riedmann and Alex Welsh.
From there, Casas was placed in rare territory right from the start of Saturday’s race one, as a group of eleven riders battled for the lead for majority of the thrilling contest, with just under a second separating the entire pack at one point.
The youngster saw his place in the group change a number of times, but was able to make up for any lost ground over the final few laps, capitalizing on an incident at the front involving Kenny Riedmann to finish fourth – his fourth top-four finish in six races at that point.
The results on Sunday were slightly less encouraging on paper, but we’re actually far more impressive in reality, as Casas got a strong start from the front row and ran inside the top three in the early going. Once again, the Yamaha rider was in the thick of a nine-rider battle out front, but was able to show perhaps his best level of aggression all year.
After briefly falling to fifth behind 13-time champion Jordan Szoke and 2019 champion Ben Young, Casas managed to take third spot right back, overtaking the two Canadian racing legends for the first time in his career.
Ultimately, the duo managed to make a move stick on the former Rookie of the Year as Casas settled for sixth in the final race of the year, but it was a strong boost to morale as he proved his spot amongst the title contenders, finishing fourth in the overall standings with one podium and 216 points.
“I had such an awesome time riding around CTMP on my Yamaha R1. Despite having a stock engine, I was able to run up front and gained a lot of valuable experience doing so,” Casas said. “It was one of the most exciting race weekend’s I’ve been part of, and I can not wait to see what 2020 will bring.”
As a result, Casas became the first rider since Riedmann in 2016 to finish in the top four of both Pro classes, and just the fifth rider to do since 2011. More impressively, Casas joins Riedmann and former National champion Jodi Christie as the only riders since 2010 to finish in the top four of the Pro Superbike standings in their first year aboard a Superbike machine, cementing his status as a future CSBK star.
With the Canadian season now in the rear view, Casas will prepare for his upcoming wildcard appearance at the MotoAmerica round in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is set to ride his YZF-R6 machine in the Supersport category.
Tomas and the team would like to thank all his sponsors for their hard work, including Yamaha Motor Canada, Parts Canada, Yamaha bLU cRU, Pro 6 Cycle & Dunlop Tires, Hindle Exhaust, Brooklin Cycle Racing, GBRacing, J.J. Stewart Motors Ltd., Flexiglass, Bickle Racing, Bluestreak 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.
He also would like to thank the entirety of his team for all their hard work throughout the year: His Dad, Julio Casas, Jason Williams, Franlkin Dominguez, Rob Cousineau and Jon Cornwell.
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