Szoke makes history. Solid weekend for Welsh.

May 25, 2009

CALABOGIE, Ont. (May 24) - Five-time national champion Jordan Szoke enjoyed a history-making day at the opening round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Calabogie Motorsports Park on Sunday.

The Canadian Kawasaki Motors team leader scored a stunning success in the Superbike feature to become the all-time leader in career triumphs in the class with 27 wins. And he did it in style, trading the lead back and forth with Brett McCormick on the final lap before prevailing by just 0.133 seconds on his Ninja ZX-10R.

"This is a great track. I think this is the best track in Canada and I'm glad that it's here that I got the record," said the 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. after his second straight Superbike win at Calabogie.

Szoke had qualified second for Sunday's race in the single-bike Pirelli SuperPole session and admitted he may have made a mistake in his tire selection.

"I think I took the wrong front tire," he explained. "It's such a long lap here I took it easy on the rear on my warm-up lap but I don't think I got enough heat into the front, and it was pushing on my qualifying lap."

Szoke was careful off the start and ran fourth at the end of the first of 16 laps around the 5.05km, 20-turn Calabogie track before working his way up to second by lap three.

"I might have taken things a bit too easy at the start," he later admitted. "And I used up the tire a bit trying to come back."

In the second half of the race, however, Szoke was able to erase a gap of some two seconds to McCormick, setting his fastest lap of the race on the 11th tour at 2:01.599, the second fastest lap of the race.

He was right on McCormick's tail to start the final lap and grabbed the lead for the first time down the back straight. McCormick was able to regain the lead exiting turn seven but Szoke got right back ahead and held off his rival through the rest of the lap to score his milestone win.

"I had to ride hard but all my conditioning paid off," the winner said. "What a great, fun race that was. On that last lap we passed each other a whole bunch of times. That's what makes it fun out there."

Szoke's teammate Alex Welsh was sixth in the Superbike race after an impressive factory debut on his Ninja ZX-10R. The 21-year-old from Uxbridge, Ont. was part of a big scrap in the waning laps with Frank Trombino and Steve Crevier. Despite being passed by both riders on the final tour to drop to seventh Welsh was able to snag back sixth from Crevier in the last turn and just missed getting Trombino for fifth at the line.

"My goal was to take it pretty easy the first couple of laps but that kind of bit us and I was a bit far back," said last year's HJC Pro Rookie of the Year, who qualified a strong sixth on the Ninja ZX-10R. "But some riders starting coming back to us towards the end.

"The bike worked great. That Kawasaki horsepower helped me get past Crevier on the last lap, but he got back by me and I ran wide and Trombino also got past. I thought I'd try to stuff one of them in the last corner. Trombino got inside Crevier and I snuck through. My Kawasaki really helped me out on the run to the line."

Szoke leads the Parts Canada Superbike standings with 53 points to the 48 of McCormick as he tries for a fourth straight title with Kawasaki. Welsh is sixth in the standings with 27 points.

Szoke dominated the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike feature at Calabogie, overcoming a five-second penalty for a jump-start to win by 3.326 seconds on the all-new Ninja ZX-6R. It was a perfect weekend for Szoke, as he qualified on pole and led every lap to give the latest Kawasaki 600 a very impressive debut.

"It's a lot of fun when you have a motorcycle that works that well," said Szoke, who also won the Pro Sport Bike opener at Calabogie last year. "I just put my head down and pushed hard. But it was a comfortable pace for me and I didn't have any moments."

Welsh showed the prowess of the Kawasaki by also overcoming a five-second jump-start penalty to still finish fourth. From fifth on the grid Welsh was sixth after the first lap but soon settled into a battle for fourth with fellow Kawasaki rider Karl Daigle.

"I didn't have a great start but I thought I could work my way up," Welsh explained. "I thought I could catch the guys battling for second but I just didn't have it for them. I would have liked to been a little closer to the front but we'll use this as a learning experience."

Szoke is off to a good start in his bid for a fourth straight Pro Sport Bike title. He has a perfect score of 56 points with teammate Welsh in fourth with 32 points.

The Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory team will continue its bid for four straight titles in Canada's premier road racing series at the new Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. near Montreal June 12-14.

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