Steven Nickerson and the DeWildt Marine & Powersports Honda team experienced all the highs and lows of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last weekend, enjoying a stellar weekend before a major crash ended their weekend early at the CSBK season finale.
Nickerson had not appeared at CSBK since his excellent round one in Grand Bend, using the time to let his previously injured knee heal while also defending his title at the SOAR regional series. A return to “Old Mosport” brought the team back to end the 2022 national campaign, though, and they wasted little time getting back up to speed at CTMP.
After a strong week of practice, Nickerson was the third-fastest rider at the unofficial CSBK test day on Thursday, and briefly ran second behind only reigning champion Alex Dumas. That continued into the first official action on Friday morning, as he again sat inside the top-three for most of the FP1 session before settling for fifth.
Nickerson and the team seemed to have everything on the right track in Q1 as he posted a 1:22.252 lap time to go third-fastest, easily securing his place in Q2, but the Honda rider struggled to adjust to the qualifying tire and went slightly slower in the second session as he wound up seventh on the grid for the Superbike tripleheader.
While it was a disappointing qualifying result, the team knew Steven’s true pace was closer to his Q1 position, and a few setup tweaks confirmed that as he returned to the third-fastest spot in FP2 ahead of race one on Saturday.
The start to race one was solid though not ideal for Nickerson, as he remained mostly in the same spot but still not far off the lead group. The Honda rider persevered throughout the race, though, gradually picking his way through the field as he ran a more consistent pace than his rivals, putting himself fourth at the flag to tie his career-best finish.
“The team had the bike set up great and I was confident that I could run at a good pace throughout the race,” Steven said. “I manoeuvred my way through the pack and began some good close racing between myself and Sebastian Tremblay, and I knew I had the late race pace and tried to make some passes, but I couldn’t make any stick and ended up finishing a solid fourth”
Despite coming up just a half-second short of his first career podium behind Sebastien Tremblay, it was another brilliant result and one the team hoped to build upon in race two, though this is where the weekend would unfortunately end for Steven.
After a great start and his best early-race pace since round one, Steven was chasing Casas again for a podium spot when he tucked the front in turn three, crashing hard into the barrier and forcing a red flag stoppage.
Following a trip to local hospital, it was revealed Steven suffered a fractured T9 vertebrae, broken ribs, a bruised lung, and a concussion, but remains in good spirits and has been discharged from hospital. With no surgery required, Nickerson expects to make a full recovery after a few months of rest.
“I’m feeling like I took a good beating and pretty sore all over,” Steven said. “It’s a struggle to get comfortable. For now, I’m just focusing on resting and giving myself some time to heal.”
Steven, the Nickerson family, and the rest of the team would like to thank everyone in the CSBK paddock and throughout the sport that reached out during the difficult time.
Despite the unfortunate end to the weekend, it was perhaps the strongest season of Nickerson’s career when he was on track, with finishes of fifth, fourth, and fourth in his three races with another top-four finish very likely.
The performances will leave Steven eighth in the final standings despite missing six of nine races, an impressive feat, while he also helped lift Honda to fifth in the Constructors Championship prior to his injury as the only Honda rider in the Superbike field this season.
Nickerson would like to thank DeWildt Marine & Powersports, Granite Plus Inc, Bickle Racing, Bickle Designs, Sib's Powersports Machine, NFD autobody, Spectro Performance Oils, Extreme Components, DNA High Performance Filters, Accossato Racing, Ultimate Cycle, Inside Motorcycles, Studio Cycle Group Inc, Canadian Sports Apparel, Bristol Motors RV, Nexo Sports, Taylor Steel and Revive Dead Lift Truck for all their help and support through the 2022 campaign, both nationally and regionally, and is looking forward to continuing his partnerships in 2023.
From a press release