Laing takes Sport Bike pole with new lap record at RAD Torque

The return to Edmonton proved to be a welcome one for home favourite John Laing on Friday, as he blitzed the Economy Lube Pro Sport Bike lap record to earn a first career national pole position at RAD Torque Raceway. 

Laing immediately jumped to the top of the timesheets, posting a time of 1:20.193 on his first flying lap, before smashing the lap record on lap number two with a benchmark of 1:19.564.

The Cochrane, Alberta native would hold steady for the remainder of the 20-minute session, watching his rivals get gradually closer to the top spot but never properly threaten provisional pole as he held on by 0.408 seconds from Elliot Vieira despite a late crash. 

It marks the first pole position of Laing’s CSBK career and the fifth new pole-sitter in the last five rounds of the Sport Bike class, as the Vass Performance Kawasaki rider will try to add a second national victory to his resumé on Saturday.

Vieira also bested the previous lap record of 1:19.999, set by Jodi Christie in 2015, but it wasn’t enough to dislodge Laing as the Economy Lube Ducati rider was forced to settle for second.

Still, it was an impressive result in his first-ever trip to the circuit, as Vieira was the only other rider to break into the 1:19 mark and will have less than a half-second to make up entering race one.

Completing the front row for his Sport Bike debut will be reigning Pro Twins champion Andrew Van Winkle, who continues to find pace aboard his FD Racing Suzuki.

The 17-year-old would wind up within 0.801 seconds of pole after a batch of late improvements, and crucially found enough to knock championship leader Sebastien Tremblay off the front row and into fourth.

Tremblay will line up fourth aboard his Turcotte Performance Suzuki, but surprisingly a distant 1.111 seconds off Laing as he looks to protect his comfortable championship advantage this weekend.

Rounding out the top five and centering the second row will be local star Justin Knapik, who put his Argyll Motorsports Yamaha just under a second off Tremblay.

The Edmonton, Alberta native will look to make it at least a pair of local riders on the podium along with Laing this weekend, as will 16-year-old rookie Philip DeGama-Blanchet, who put his Vass Performance Kawasaki into sixth and the end of the second row.

Notably absent from the front two rows is fellow rookie Mavrick Cyr, who was running within the top-five in the early stint before a crash ended his session. The 19-year-old was thankfully uninjured but was unable to remount his Economy Lube Ducati, leaving him eighth on the grid and on the middle of the third row.

Laing and company will now prepare for race one of the weekend doubleheader on Saturday, currently scheduled for roughly 1:10 pm local time (3:10 pm ET) at RAD Torque Raceway.

Full results from Friday’s qualifying can be found on the series’ official website.