Alex Welsh joins Champion Szoke on 2009 Kawasaki Factory Team
December 2, 2008
Team manager Jeff Comello announced today that Alex Welsh will join multi-time Canadian Superbike and Super Sport Champion Jordan Szoke on the 2009 Kawasaki Factory Team lineup. Brett McCormick, who rode for Kawasaki in 2008, will not be part of the 2009 program. Comello said the Saskatoon native, who started rising to prominence over the past two years on the Canadian road race circuit aboard Kawasaki's ZX-6R and ZX-10R, opted not to renew his contract for the '09 season.
"We certainly hadn't anticipated Brett leaving the team, and are needless to say disappointed to see him go, especially considering the success and synergy he had with us," Comello said. "We respect his decision, however, and wish him all the best with his future endeavours."
Although McCormick's departure came as a surprise, Comello said the team is always on the lookout for new talent and Welsh made an impression during the 2008 season as a privateer campaigning the Pro 600 Super Sport Championship. In his first race this year at Calabogie, he finished a solid fifth right in the mix with the top factory riders. With limited support, Welsh went on to score consistent top-10 results throughout the course of the season, which earned him an eight place ranking in the title hunt and the Pro Rookie of the Year Award.
"We're confident Alex will fit in very well with the team. When we tested him on our superbike at the last regional race of the year, he immediately took to the bike even though he had never ridden a machine with that much power before," Comello said. "His lap times and feedback on setup changes were actually quite impressive for someone who was only riding a superbike for the first time. We're convinced that Alex's prior racing experiences will allow him to take full advantage of the strengths of our Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R."
While relatively unknown at home in Canada, 21-year-old Welsh has chalked up some impressive results racing abroad. With support from a good team and personal sponsors, the Uxbridge, ON native was able to campaign and win the 2006 USGPRU Northeast and Southeast 125 and 250 Championships and the overall 2006 USGPRU 250 National Championship. Welsh also took part in the Spanish CEV 125 National Championship at Valencia and Jerez, and three rounds of the British 125 National Championship at Knockhill, Oulton Park, and Brands Hatch, where his best finish was fifth place.
"Racing in the United States and Europe taught me a lot and provided me with the experience and confidence to compete at a top level. Now I've come to a stage in my life that I want to focus on racing in Canada, with an eye not only on winning races but championships as well," said Welsh. "When Kawasaki approached me with an offer to test for them it was like a dream come true. I mean, in one season I went from a shoestring privateer ride to the best factory team ride in the country. To say that I'm really thrilled and excited about this would be to understate. I can't wait for the new season to start. For me it can't get here fast enough."
Like Alex Welsh, everyone at Canadian Kawasaki Motors is eagerly anticipating the 2009 road racing season, which kicks off next May at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Calabogie, ON.
"This year was huge for us with our third back-to-back championship titles in Superbike and Pro 600," stated Comello. "Our team challenge for '09 will be to make it four in a row, and there are a number of personal challenges our riders have set for themselves to keep things interesting. We at Kawasaki have no intention of resting on our laurels."