Szoke and Welsh take podiums in Calgary.
June 30, 2009
CALGARY, Alta. (June 28) - Despite controlling the race for 21 laps, five-time Canadian champion Jordan Szoke had to settle for a second pace finish in the third round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary on Sunday.
The 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. qualified on pole on his Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and led every lap around the 3.2km (2.0-mile) track, but in the final section of turns on the last lap he slipped just a little bit wide and was passed for the top spot. The tight nature of the final section of turns left few opportunities to regain the lead; Szoke used every ounce of power from his Ninja ZX-10R to run down McCormick to the checkered flag but finished second by just 0.080 secs.
"Kawasaki always gives me a great motorcycle and I had the bike to win today," said Szoke, who was trying to win for the ninth time at Race City in the Superbike class. "The bike was perfect. I'm mad at myself for leaving the door open. I felt super-comfortable all race."
Despite ending the morning pre-qualifying session in second on Saturday Szoke claimed pole for Sunday's Superbike race with a lap at 1:15.126 in the Pirelli SuperPole session. The time was under the previous lap record and put him almost half a second clear of his nearest rival.
"You hate to complain when you've put it on pole but I had some trouble with my downshifts into turn one and lost a bit of time there," Szoke said. "After that the lap was going great but in the Bus Stop Chicane I got into a wheelie and that screwed my drive up for the run into corner eight. In the end I was pleased to get that good a lap."
Although he didn't get the holeshot off the line at the start of the race Szoke powered into the lead by the time the field reached turn one and he controlled the race from there. He set the fastest lap, a 1:16.120 on the sixth tour and in the middle portion he had eked out a margin of just under two seconds.
Despite his runner-up finish Szoke remains a strong contender in his bid to claim a fourth straight Parts Canada Superbike title. He is just 11 points out of the lead with 146 and four races still on the schedule.
Szoke's factory Kawasaki team-mate Alex Welsh finished seventh on his Ninja ZX-10R after running as high as third early in the race. The 21-year-old from Uxbridge, Ont. qualified sixth in Pirelli SuperPole but a good start saw him running third at the end of the opening lap.
Welsh's limited Superbike experience saw him dropping back as the race progressed, however, as he struggled to maintain the pace as to tire wear started to set in on his Kawasaki.
"I'm still learning," said last year's HJC Pro Rookie of the Year. "I got a good start and the bike was good for a bit. But I have to learn how to slide the bike more later in the race. I'm still trying to keep it the same as it is on lap six and that's not the way to do it. But I think we'll be up there the rest of the season. I've got a great team behind me and the guys are working hard."
Welsh is now sixth in the Superbike point standings with 79 but just seven points out of third.
Szoke regained the lead of the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike Championship with his second win of the season at Race City on Sunday. Despite a mid-race red flag stoppage that erased a four-second lead Szoke was able to control the eight-lap second part to win by 0.085 secs.
"You never like to see anybody get hurt and I know we have to protect out racers, but I have to admit I was kind of upset about having to restart a second time," admitted the three-time defending class champion. "I had such a good lead and I was in a groove. The bike was phenomenal."
On the restart Szoke again got the lead before the end of the first lap but this time had company all the way. He stayed cool under pressure, however, and overcame a last minute challenge for the top spot to take the win.
"I thought I might be able to do the same in the second race and break away but it's tough here," admitted Szoke, who also qualified on pole. "It's nice if you can break the draft but I couldn't manage it again after the restart."
His win gives Szoke a nine-point lead in the Pro Sport Bike standings with 155 points.
Welsh took third place at Race City on his Ninja ZX-6R, his best career national finish and his first ever podium appearance. He was fourth after the opening lap of the restart but took third on lap three and pulled away from his pursuers.
"I was stuck in fourth when the red flag came out and I thought I had waited too long to make a move," he explained. "I didn't want to do that in the second race so I got up there as early as I could and after that just put my head down.
"This is an awesome feeling. I wouldn't be here without my family; it's been a long road to get here. And I can't thank the Kawasaki team enough. They gave me a once in a lifetime chance."
Welsh is now fourth in Pro Sport Bike points with 98, just one point out of third.
The Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory team resumes its 2009 Parts Canada Superbike season at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont. July 17-19 for the traditional mid-season doubleheader.
For the latest news and photos, log onto http://www.kawasakiracing.ca/ or http://www.cdnsuperbike.com/