Szoke ready to clinch. Injured Welsh battles back.
September 1, 2009
TORONTO, Ont. - Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory rider Jordan Szoke will try to make a bit of racing history at Shannonville Motorsport Park this weekend.
The 30-year-old from Brantford, Ont. comes into the final round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship in an excellent position to wrap up his fourth straight crown and his sixth career Canadian Superbike title. No one has won four straight championships in the 30-year history of the national Superbike series and only one other rider has managed to claim six overall.
"I've tried to prepare the best I can and I'm ready to win," said Szoke, who has won three of the six Parts Canada Superbike races this year. "I don't think it's any different than any other year in terms of my stress level. I think this has been one of the most competitive years for me and I feel like I've elevated my game."
Szoke comes to Shannonville with a 14-point lead in the championship and only one rider has a mathematical shot at beating him. If he can qualify on the front row, a runner-up finish in the race will give him the title no matter what his rival does.
He sees some advantages for his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R on the 2.45km (1.53-mile) Shannonville ‘Pro Circuit'.
"I think the Kawasaki gets off the corners quite well," he said. "That's all thanks to Mike Crompton's engine work. So I think we have a bit of an advantage there."
Szoke will also try to secure a fourth straight Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike title at Shannonville on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. He is in a similar situation to his Superbike title battle, with a 16-point advantage heading to the final race.
"The 600 definitely suits the track," said Szoke, who has won three Sport Bike races so far this season. "It gets off the corners really well so it should be good coming out of the hairpin onto the backstraight and I think turns one, two and three will be good for the bike."
Szoke's Canadian Kawasaki Motors team-mate Alex Welsh will try to end his rookie year with the team on a positive note despite suffering a broken pelvis in a practice crash at the previous series round in Nova Scotia.
The 21-year-old from Uxbridge, Ont. comes into the final round sixth in the Superbike standings and fourth in Pro Sport Bike points.
"It's getting there but it's not fully healed," said Welsh, who won last year's HJC Pro Rookie of the Year title. "It's probably about two or three weeks away from being fully healed but I don't see it being a big problem. We'll find out Friday.
"Last year this is the track where we were closest to the top guys, so that bodes well for me. I think we'll be good."
Welsh claimed his first Parts Canada Superbike podium finish with a third at Mosport International Raceway in July, but he may forsake his ZX-10R Ninja Superbike and focus strictly on the ZX-6R Ninja Sport Bike if his injury proves too troublesome.
"The Superbike's a bit of an animal but I've been getting the hang of it," he admitted. "The big thing has been trying to get it working better later on in the race."
He has three podium finishes in the Sport Bike class this year, including a runner-up finish to Szoke at Mosport.
"I think we'll be pretty good on the Sport Bike," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be like Mosport and we'll be in a real dogfight."
Practice at Shannonville Motorsport Park begins Friday, September 4 with qualifying scheduled for both the Parts Canada Superbike and Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike classes on Saturday September 5.
The Pro Sport Bike race is scheduled to get underway at 1:00 pm. Sunday, September 6 and is slated for 18 laps. The 20-lap Superbike feature goes at 2:45 p.m.
For the latest news and photos, log onto http://www.kawasakiracing.ca/ or http://www.cdnsuperbike.com/