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Banner weekend for Jordan Szoke at dry and wet Mosport Raceway

July 22, 2008

With four podium finishes, it was a banner weekend for Canadian Kawasaki's Jordan Szoke at Mosport International Raceway this past weekend during the running of Rounds 3 and 4 of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship. Szoke recorded a second place finish in Saturday's Pro 600 Sport Bike to then shut down the competition in the Superbike feature, claiming his 25th career win in the process. In Sunday's races, the defending Superbike and Pro 600 Champion brought home two second place finishes, handily extending his points lead in Superbike and staying in control of the 600.

For Szoke's teammate Brett McCormick, however, there was little reason to celebrate. The Saskatoon native's weekend ended Saturday after a restart of the Sport Bike showdown, which saw him slide out while leading the race. Although the crash itself was relatively harmless, having his 360lb ZX-6R land on him as he slid against the tire barrier was not! After a thorough exam at a local hospital McCormick was diagnosed with a bruised lung and ribs. Although he wanted to race on Sunday, he was unable to pass the prescribed physical test and remained a spectator for the second day in a row.

The weekend started off on a positive note in Friday's qualifying, with the team's technicians having dialled in the optimum setting for the new ZX-10R and the proven ZX-6R. In Superbike Superpole qualifying, Szoke put in a superb lap on the 3.9km (2.459-mile) Mosport track to record a time of 1:21.945, which was just 0.238 seconds shy of the fastest qualifying time. McCormick nailed down fifth with a time of 1:22.212. During Pro 600, McCormick qualified on the front row with a third place time of 1:23.250; Szoke rounded out the final spot on the front row with a time of 1:23.712. In Saturday morning's timed Superbike practice, McCormick rocketed to the top of the time sheets with a personal best time of 1:21.622, bettering Kevin Lacombe's pole qualifying time of 1:21.707 the previous day.

In Saturday's racing action, the finicky weather, which was part and parcel of the entire weekend, saw the first Pro 600 race red flagged on the second lap after a freak downpour drenched a small section of the track. With the cloudburst over, and sunny skies overhead, the race was restarted. McCormick, who got an excellent start, drafted a number of riders to catapult himself into the lead on the first lap. Unfortunately, going into the final corner to complete the first lap, the front tire of his ZX-6R touched the recently painted inside berm, which resulted in the front end washing out without warning. Both he and his bike were sent sliding into the outside tire barrier at high speed, which resulted in a second red flag.  

"I had high hopes going into the weekend, maybe get a win under my belt at the double-header. Everything started out right in qualifying, the bikes ran great and I was ready to go out and do my thing," said McCormick. "After recording the fastest time in Saturday's Superbike practice I really felt I was on top of my game. Well, we know how my day ended. It's too bad the bike landed on top of me. Otherwise I would have just been shaken up a bit and still able to race Superbike and both classes on Sunday."

Meanwhile, Szoke ended up battling for first place the entire race, swapping positions with Lacombe to have the lead in hand on the last lap. But an aggressive move by Lacombe at the end of the back straightway allowed him to gain position on Szoke to retake the lead and the win the race by a fraction of a second.

An exciting five-man battle for Saturday's Superbike feature win proved to be a feast for the spectators' eyes. Under hot sunny skies the lead group of six riders battled intensely, with Szoke setting the fastest lap of the race on the opening lap. As the laps wound down, it was Szoke who made a definitive move to take the lead for good on lap 16, a position he would hold to the checkered flag, edging out McBain for the win by 0.058 seconds.

On Sunday, the rain proved to be an even bigger factor than the day before. The Pro 600 race, which was run in the wet for 14 laps, saw Peris lead wire to wire. Behind Peris it was a battle for second between title contenders Szoke and Lacombe who rode an aggressive but cautious race. On the final lap Szoke powered around Lacombe to snatch second and the valuable five extra points.

Sunday's Round 4 of the Superbike points chase proved to be a rerun thriller of Saturday's action, with five riders dicing for top position. In contrast to the earlier run Pro 600 race, the Superbike feature started in dry conditions, which produced a blistering pace from the lead pack. Under threatening skies, Szoke made his way into the lead on lap 8 with McBain now chasing Szoke's rear wheel. On lap 10, with rain starting to fall, McBain moved back into the lead and managed to hold on until the officials decided to call the race due its growing intensity. Unfortunately for Szoke, he would be robbed of any further chance to challenge for the win.

"On Saturday I was quite upset with myself because I should have had the win in the 600, but Kevin rode really well and that's racing. It made me all the more determined to win the Superbike race," said Szoke. "The weather was very stressful today, raining and not raining. I was really happy beating Kevin in the 600 race the second time out, even though we settled for second and third at the finish line. That kept our battle for the championship pretty well even in the points. But I was very disappointed that they stopped the Superbike race. In my opinion it could have gone a few more laps, because it wasn't raining that hard, more like sprinkling. But all in all, except for Brett's crash, it was a great weekend for the team. We extended our Superbike points lead and contained the damage in 600."

In Superbike, Szoke now tallies 196 points to Lacombe's 158; in Pro 600, with 194 points on the scoreboard, Szoke enjoys a 28 point advantage over the Granby, QC native.

"It's really unfortunate that Brett's crash put him on the sidelines as he was really coming on strong this weekend," said team manager Jeff Comello. "On the bright side, we're enjoying a good points buffer in both championships with Jordan, and the bikes are performing really well. We ended up with a great setup this weekend. We feel strong and confident heading to the next round at Shubenacadie, NS and will be looking to extend our points lead even further."

For the latest series information, visit kawasakiracing.ca and cdnsuperbike.com.

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