The 2019 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship officially got underway at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Friday, and it was Ben Young pacing the Mopar Pro Superbike field ahead of reigning champion Jordan Szoke.
Young, riding a Scot-Build Barrie BMW S1000RR out of Collingwood, ON, led the morning practice session with a time of 1:06.302 before improving upon his own pace in the afternoon, sitting atop the final leaderboard with a mark of 1:05.678.
Despite posting the fastest time in both sessions, Young dealt with a mechanical issue in the afternoon that he is hoping to fix ahead of Saturday’s qualifying. Still, last year’s championship runner-up is staying optimistic after the first day of the new season.
“There’s a lot of traffic out there, and we had some shifter problems which didn’t help at the start, but the BMW is working great as always,” said Young. “If we can just figure that out and keep pushing hard, I think we’ll be hitting it out of the ballpark tomorrow.”
As for Szoke, the four-time defending title holder out of Lynden, ON followed Young closely in both sessions, posting times of 1:06.546 in the morning and 1:05.890 in the afternoon aboard his new Mopar Express Lane Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
“We’re really happy with everything so far,” Szoke said. “Obviously Ben and Kenny [Riedmann] have picked up right where they left off, but we’re more focused on getting a good race set-up and coming out strong tomorrow.”
Riedmann, like Young, won his first career Mopar Pro Superbike race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last season, but the Belfountain, ON rider and his Sturgess Cycle Kawasaki were displaced in both sessions by Blysk BMW rider Samuel Trepanier.
The St. Isidore, QC native posted times of 1:06.645 in the morning and 1:06.012 in the afternoon, just slightly ahead of Riedmann and his times of 1:07.202 and 1:06.328.
“We tried some things this afternoon, but the morning set-up felt a lot better,” said Riedmann, despite going nearly a second quicker in the second practice session. “It just felt like the rear was getting ahead of the front, so I think we’re going to change things back for tomorrow, but other than that it felt good to be back out there.”
Szoke wasn’t the only defending Pro champion to be unseated on day one, however, as Peterborough, ON youngster Tomas Casas ran second-fastest aboard his Parts Canada Yamaha YZF-R6 in what was a tough-luck day for the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class.
After the morning session fell victim to a wet track and cold weather, the afternoon session was shortened by a red flag incident, with Mirabel, QC’s Sebastien Tremblay leading that practice aboard his DB Moto Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja with a time of 1:07.527.
Casas, meanwhile, was a distant second place with a time of 1:09.267, as he and the rest of the field will look to chase after Tremblay in qualifying on Saturday.
“It was hard because we didn’t get any laps in this morning and then the second session ended early, but overall it wasn’t too bad,” said Casas. “The bike felt great and I think things will be a lot better with some track time tomorrow.”
The second-ever season of the TSN Motorcycle Experience Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike championship also got off to an exciting start, with Blackstock, ON’s Ben LeClair leading the morning practice and Strathroy, ON’s Trevor Dion pacing the afternoon session.
LeClair, the younger brother of last year’s Lightweight champion Jake, posted a 1:17.594 aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3, while Dion bested him with a time of 1:17.061 in the afternoon aboard his Kawasaki Ninja 400.
Second-place in both sessions was last year’s runner-up Alex Berthiaume, as the Yamaha-mounted Laval, QC rider was less than three-tenths of a second off the pace in both practices.
The newly sponsored Mopar Express Lane Amateur Superbike class was led both times by Ancaster, ON’s Jordan Royds, who’s best time of the day was a 1:10.065 aboard his Yamaha YZF-R1.
As for the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class, it was Jake LeClair leading a sparse group of riders in the morning session aboard his bLU cRU Yamaha YZF-R6 with a time of 1:14.678, while St. Marc-sur-Richelieu, QC’s Christian Allard bested a more crowded afternoon practice with a time of 1:10.263 aboard his Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.
Full results from Friday’s action and the weekend schedule for round one at SMP can be found on the series’ official website at www.csbk.ca.