Szoke building momentum. Welsh ready to step up.

June 10, 2009

TORONTO, Ont. (June 10) - Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory Superbike racer Jordan Szoke heads into this weekend's second round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Que. brimming with confidence, and for good reason.

The 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. got his bid for a sixth Canadian national crown off to an excellent start with a dramatic victory in the season opener at Calabogie Motorsports Park last month, even though he didn't think his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was performing at its best.

"I think we missed the set-up a bit at Calabogie but we were still able to win the race," he admitted. "In my mind we got the hardest one out of the way. It's exciting to think how well the Kawasaki performs no matter what type of track we're on. I feel as good as ever."

The province of Quebec has been good to Szoke as well. The three-time defending Parts Canada Superbike Champion has won seven races in the province, more than any other racer in national history.

Szoke also heads to Circuit ICAR on top of the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike standings thanks to a debut victory for the all-new Ninja ZX-6R at Calabogie in May. Despite incurring a five-second jump start penalty the three-time defending class champion was able to open enough of a gap to still take the race win by a comfortable margin.

"I'm confident we have a good chance of winning every race this year with that bike," Szoke said. "It just gets better and better every time I ride it."

Szoke's 21-year-old teammate Alex Welsh is also looking forward to getting back in action on the 2.8km (1.74-mile) 14-turn Mirabel circuit, which is hosting its first Parts Canada Superbike national this weekend.

"Nobody has a whole lot of experience there so I think it plays into my favour a bit," said the Uxbridge, Ont. racer. "It's a new venue for everybody."

Welsh finished sixth in Superbike and fourth in Pro Sport Bike in his debut with the Canadian Kawasaki Motors team at Calabogie.

"On the 600 I'm pretty good," said last year's HJC Pro Rookie of the Year on the national tour. "I do have to work on my starts. I know I can run with the front guys but in the Sport Bike class everybody is so close that it's hard to close a gap when the guy in front of you gets a few seconds' advantage."

Welsh thinks getting a good start will be particularly important at Circuit ICAR.

"That track's going to be tough to pass on," he explained. "You'll want a clean first lap but being a bit aggressive will also be important. I think this will also be a track where confidence is a big thing."

Both Szoke and Welsh got the benefit of some track time at a regional event at the track May 30-31, so they should be well prepared when testing gets underway on Thursday, June 11. Official practice opens Friday, June 12 and qualifying for both the Parts Canada Superbike and Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike categories will be held Saturday, June 13.

The 14-lap Pro Sport Bike feature is set to go green at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, with the Superbike main event, set for 16 laps, scheduled for a 2:50 p.m. start.

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